Miles Teller is the first one to admit that he’s not sure how he landed the much-coveted role in the indie The Spectacular Now. The actor, who stars alongside Brie Larson and Shailene Woodley, recalls completely bombing his first audition.
“It was just not good. It was right after Footloose got done, like the day after it wrapped,” Teller recounted to Interview. “I tried to play a character, as opposed to make it more mine. It wasn’t very good, it wasn’t honest, and I was acting. I asked for a second one, and the second one went a little better but they were still like, ‘We’ve moved on with somebody else.’
“There were a lot of other actors attached to this before I was. And then James [Ponsoldt, the director] got involved, and I never had to audition, we just met for beers and by the end of that, he was like, ‘You’re my guy and I’m gonna try and convince everybody else, hopefully we have this done in about a week.’ That’s how I came on board. Maybe it’s good I didn’t have to audition for James, because I probably would have sucked.”
Teller was interested in working with Ponsoldt, best known for directing last year’s indie Smashed, but didn’t immediately approach him when he found out he was attached to the project. “I think at that point they had seen Footloose or Rabbit Hole, and they had maybe compiled a list of actors they wanted or had an eye for, but really, Nicholas Hoult was supposed to be in this movie, and he dropped out to do Mad Max. It opened up, James met with me.”
Teller admits that part of the reason his initial audition went so poorly is because he was trying to transition out of playing line dancer Willard in Footloose.
“[Footloose] was a three month thing. I was playing a redneck, but with a studio system, so a little bigger. I didn’t have the time to prepare for it, so it was not the best time,” Teller said. “But a lot of times in this business, I’ve gotten a call and they’ll say, ‘Here’s the pages, can you be there in three hours?’ And you just say, ‘Whatever, screw it,’ and you do it, and you feel better that you at least tried.
“I would feel bad if I let my own fear of failure get in the way of putting something out there. You’ve got to throw something out there. Maybe at least it’ll get you a callback, and you take more time with the callback, and by the time of the director’s session, you feel like you’re in a pretty good place.”
The Spectacular Now recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.