Surging Miles ahead
Whiplash star Miles Teller has reason to smile, with big roles in franchise movies like Insurgent and Fantastic Four
Miles Teller isn't a household name - yet. Fresh from supporting his Oscar-winning drama Whiplash during awards season, the 28-year-old US actor reprises his role as cocky bully Peter in Insurgent, the second instalment of the popular Divergent franchise.
In the movie, which opens here on March 19, Teller's character continues to give protagonist Tris (Shailene Woodley) a hard time in various ways, from criticising her new hairdo to selling her out to the diabolical Erudite leader Jeanine (Kate Winslet).
In August, we'll see him take the lead as Reed Richards or Mr Fantastic in superhero flick Fantastic Four.
After that, he will be appearing in the Martin Scorsese-produced biopic Bleed For This, about the inspirational true story of former world champion boxer Vinny Pazienza.
Teller has definitely come a long way from his early days of playing the "cool bro sidekick" or the wild teenager in films like Footloose (2011), Project X (2012) and That Awkward Moment (2014).
"That's why I've been showering and taking care of my hair," he casually joked to M when asked about the shift from supporting actor to male lead during a recent interview at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills.
"I always want the most interesting character in a movie. For Footloose, I was way more into (my character) Willard than the main guy (played by Kenny Wormald). If I read a script that I like and am more into the other character, I'll take it, but I'm ready to be given the opportunity to carry a film and be a lead because I can deliver."
Teller, who wants to follow in the footsteps of his idols Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, added: "I'm excited to take on more good leading stuff, and for an actor you don't really get those parts until you're older. The juicy roles for actors come in your 30s and 40s..."
After graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the prestigious Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, Teller made his feature debut opposite Nicole Kidman in the 2010 family drama Rabbit Hole.
It was his role in the 2013 romantic dramedy The Spectacular Now that gained him more recognition in the industry since he and co-star Woodley won the Special Jury Award for Acting at that year's Sundance Film Festival.
But he really turned heads in Hollywood in the critically-acclaimed Whiplash, which was released here in January.
To play Andrew, an ambitious student musician tyrannised by an abusive jazz school instructor, Teller subjected himself to intensive drum lessons to brush up his skills, even though he already knew how to play the instrument.
"Right now, I'm sinking my teeth into roles. I really enjoyed the drumming training I got on Whiplash and the boxing training I did for Bleed For This. When they offered me the chance to play a five-time world champion boxer, I said yes.
"I was surprised they offered it to me. Over the span of eight months, I just really put in the effort and think that was the most rewarding thing."
But he admitted to having a tough time while filming both Insurgent and Fantastic Four at the same time.
"I remember doing a couple of weeks of Fantastic Four and then a couple on Insurgent and going back and forth, (thinking) I could easily pick up the part of Peter after playing Reed Richards. But it wasn't as natural to me to have that kind of bravado and confidence that Peter has after doing Fantastic Four. It took a little bit to get back into (character)," said the Pennsylvania native, who is gearing up to start work on the third instalment of the Divergent series, Allegiant.
His effort is paying off in Hollywood. He is now on the guest list of all sorts of A-list parties.
"After the Oscars, there are a bunch of after-parties and Madonna has one every year. I wasn't invited last year, but I went this year and I was like, 'so this is what famous people do after the Oscars,'" he said with a laugh, noting that celebrities like Mick Jagger, Jay Z and Beyonce were also there.
But he's still shocked to receive praise for his work at events, especially from notable names on the acting scene. "One of the coolest actors who has taken me aside... is Robert Duvall. His agent was telling me that he hates pretty much all young actors, but said he hasn't stopped talking about Whiplash. Reese Witherspoon, who I actually had my first crush on, reached out to me and wanted me to play her brother in Wild. So all this stuff is pretty cool."
MILES TELLER PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE PICTURES
ANSEL ELGORT PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE PICTURES
Insurgent boasts a stellar young cast, with the two standout members being Miles Teller and Ansel Elgort.
They're both kind of weird-looking, and they both play characters who straddle the line between good and bad. Question is, which of these young stars will shine the brightest?
He plays Peter Hayes, who is a jerk. He started off in the Candour faction, but then transferred to Dauntless and made everyone's life miserable. In Insurgent, he gets into a big fight with Tris and then betrays Dauntless to join the enemy Erudite faction. He's a toxic combination of belligerent and sneaky.
It makes sense that he plays Tris' brother Caleb Prior, because he's got the same sort of attractive yet funny-looking face that Shailene Woodley does. He was once in the Abnegation faction, but then he joined Erudite. At the start of Insurgent, he's trying to help his rebel sister, but eventually wimps out.
ROUND ONE: TELLER
He seems to be having much more fun being a jerk than the other jerk.
This guy is the very definition of a rising star. Earlier this year, he played a drummer in the superb flick Whiplash, which won an Oscar for his co-star JK Simmons. This summer, he stars as Reed Richards in Fantastic Four. He can even do romantic comedy, as he proved (sort of) in That Awkward Moment.
Before playing Woodley's brother in Insurgent, he was her lover in last year's The Fault In Our Stars. It's kind of weird, but the movie made him a huge star among the young - he won four Teen Choice Awards last year. That said, he doesn't seem to have any big projects on the horizon, except more Divergent sequels.
ROUND TWO: TELLER
This kid is crazy talented and ambitious. He's definitely going places.
UNCONVENTIONAL GOOD LOOKS POWERS
He's one of those guys with whom it's impossible to tell if he's really hot or really not. Over the years, he has played awkward characters, but Whiplash proved he could carry a film as the handsome lead.
Though he won hearts in The Fault In Our Stars, that was mostly due to his vulnerability. He still has to prove himself as a proper leading man, which won't be easy when he looks kind of dumb, soft, and a little creepy. As a guy who also looks dumb and soft and creepy, it's okay for me to say this.
ROUND THREE: TELLER
He's got movie star charisma, even though he looks like Elvis beaten with a shovel.
"It's a clean sweep for this cool young performer who seems to be destined for great things."
- Jason Johnson
At the end of the day, we don't care if you're Erudite, Dauntless or Abnegation. We only care about whether you're hot. Here are the Insurgent babes and hunks ranked with the sexiest first.
Theo James as Four PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE PICTURES
Zoe Kravitz as Christina PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE PICTURES
Daniel Dae Kim as Jack Kang PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE PICTURES
Maggie Q as Tori Wu PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE PICTURES
Shailene Woodley as Tris PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE PICTURES
Jai Courtney as Eric PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE PICTURES