When it comes to the trajectory of his career, Miles Teller is having anything but an awkward moment… Unless, of course, you’re talking about his role in the movie thus entitled. Fresh on the heels of an oddly charming turn as a schmucky, commitment-phobic manchild in this month’s big ensemble rom-com, Teller is headed for biopic territory with the challenging lead in “Bleed for This.”
Starring opposite Aaron Eckhart, Teller will play boxer Vinny Pazienza, whose real-life return to the ring after a car crash that should have ended his career is the stuff underdog fairytales are made of. It’s a canny choice for an on-the-verge actor in an industry where biopics and boxing movies are some of the most reliable awards bait there is; under the circumstances, there’s little question that this role is part of a trajectory that will send Teller to the top of the A-list.
But more importantly, Miles Teller is beginning to look like a candidate for another sort of role, one that Hollywood has been unsuccessfully trying to fill ever since it became apparent that old guard celebs like De Niro, Pacino, Eastwood and Douglas were not, in fact, going to live forever. And despite a talented new class of up-and-coming young actors to choose from, Teller is the first man in recent memory to look like he might fit this particular bill: that of a powerhouse leading man, with enormous acting range, whose mere presence in a movie will spell success at the box office. What makes him so promising?
He’s got range.
In the span of just a couple of years, we’ll have seen Teller flexing his thespian muscles in an astonishing array of roles: as a loveable rom-com schlub in “That Awkward Moment,” as a tortured teen alcoholic in “The Spectacular Now,” as a sadistic cutthroat antagonist in “Divergent,” and as an ambitious and obsessed drumming prodigy in the Sundance darling “Whiplash.” And lest you think he lacks the superstar caliber to carry an action blockbuster, he’s also rumored to be the frontrunner for the part of the cerebral, elastic Mr. Fantastic in the upcoming “Fantastic Four” reboot.
He’s got skills — and he’s willing to learn new ones.
Teller doesn’t just have natural talent in spades: after all, he won the Sundance Special Jury Prize for his crackling chemistry with Shailene Woodley in “The Spectacular Now” and held his own against the powerful talents of screen veteran J.K. Simmons in “Whiplash.” He’s also extremely dedicated to his craft. Case in point: the complex, crazy drum solo that happens at the climax of “Whiplash”? That’s all him.
He’s got that face.
Whatever term you use to describe Teller’s unconventional looks (on MTV, the term “bro face” has been bandied about from time to time), his not-your-typical-movie-star face gives him the power to choose a variety of roles and play them to perfection.
Even this early in his career, the actor has demonstrated an uncanny knack for making himself look incredibly appealing, pathetically petulant, or even downright repellent depending upon who he’s supposed to be. And where being too handsome can be limiting even to a very talented actor (we’re looking at you, Ryan Gosling), Teller’s ability to look handsome at will opens up the field for him to play literally anyone, from a soulful romantic lead to a filthy, scheming villain.