If you’ve noticed a certain earnest, dough-faced young gentleman popping up in a bunch of films over the past couple years, then Hollywood’s best-kept secret is finally coming out. Twenty-six year-old Miles Teller is the new “it-boy” on the film scene, and truth be told, he’s killing it. Though not his first film, Teller gained some noteworthiness with 2012’s Project X, a mega-fun, shaky hand-cam explosion of a raunchy teen comedy, though he only had a small role in the film as a big-shot college kid who likes to party, which may or may not have had a hand in Teller starring in one of the best films of 2013,: the hazy, romance dramedy The Spectacular Now. The film, which also stars popular up-and-comer Shailene Woodley, follows charming high school senior and blossoming alcoholic, Sutter Keely (Teller), as he navigates a new romance while avoiding the future.
Miles Teller is more than believable as Sutter, who oozes an easy but manufactured charm that makes him seem approachable but guarded. Sutter is a good boy behaving badly—drinking and driving, drinking and working, drinking and skipping class—but Teller plays him with a certain lightness and honesty that makes it so the audience is never alienated by his actions; we are never upset with him, just for him. Teller’s best scenes to me are the ones during his meeting with his father (Kyle Chandler). Sutter is a character who is desperate for love, and upon reuniting with his father there is apprehension running throughout his body that is only released once his dad expresses some approval. The dialogue isn’t itself dramatic, but the scene is an emotionally heavy one, and the physical performance on Teller’s part adds to that. He as an actor that understands what a meeting like this means to a kid like Sutter, and he processes those emotions so it’s obvious, but not over-the-top. Similarly, once Sutter realizes his dad is not the hero he thought he was, the breakdown he has is played with such sincerity that the party guy façade is ripped away and Teller leaves us with the real Sutter: a lonely, misguided boy coping the only way he knows how to.
Teller received high praise for his role in The Spectacular Now and is currently making the most of his new-kid-on-the-block status by starring in and absolutely scene-stealing the recently released That Awkward Moment (alongside old pro Zac Efron and fellow newbie Michael B. Jordan), the upcoming undeniable blockbuster Divergent (where he will reunite with Shailene Woodley), and the indie film Whiplash, which won both the US Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award for a dramatic film at Sundance. In Whiplash, Teller plays a jazz drummer who is pushed to his limits by an aggressive music teacher, played by J.K. Simmons. Though Teller has been playing the drums since he was fifteen, he took additional four-hour lessons three days a week to prepare for the role. That kind of dedication shows promise for a newcomer.
One way I know Miles Teller is definitely going to hit the big time, as if he weren’t already on his way, is with his role in Divergent. Based on a YA book of the same name, Divergent is the first of a trilogy, and in it Teller plays Peter, a guy at odds with heroine Beatrice (Shailene Woodley) in the oppressive society she is trying to break out of. By this point we’re all familiar with the formula of YA book, plus movie deal, equals fame and fortune, and it’ll be no different for Teller. The only fear I hold for the young actor in embarking on this is the possibility of the project pigeonholing him, just look at poor Robert Pattinson. But I think the combination of his talent and that fact that he has some indie cred already under his belt is going to keep Teller from being held back. Watch out, because this year Miles Teller is going to be the guy you wish you knew before he was cool.
Are you a Miles Teller fan?
Article by Nia Howe Smith