“I knew it was time for me to kind of evolve. Look, nobody tells you that. You just have to say now’s the time.” – Miles Teller
Playing boxing champion Vinny “Paz” Pazienza, a man who won two championships after breaking his neck in a car accident, is the type of challenging, high-profile role that actors really want to sink their teeth into. For Miles Teller, who plays Paz in Bleed For This, it was another role that would allow the actor to graduate from playing the teen roles that he was known for into more mature protagonists. In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, Teller spoke about making that career shift and reveals that he didn’t expect to actually get the lead role in Bleed For This.
Early in his career, Teller appeared in some typical teen fare like Footloose, Project X, and 21 & Over, but starting with 2013’s The Spectacular Now and 2014’s Whiplash he decided to focus on more more substantive roles over his roles in tentpole films like Fantastic Four and Divergent. Teller explains, “Look, it’s tough when you’re a young actor. People aren’t really seeing the career that you’re going to carve out. You’re just trying to get work, some screen time. Just do anything… But it was a time when I said, I don’t want to play a kid or somebody’s son. I wanted to play my own man. I knew it was time for me to kind of evolve. Look, nobody tells you that. You just have to say now’s the time. For me, it was absolutely a pivotal point in my career, time to step up and challenge myself. Playing Vinny Paz was that opportunity.”
Despite the fact that Teller was interested in playing Paz, he actually didn’t believe that he’d be considered for the role. He says, “I thought this would be a really great part for someone else. I wasn’t really playing parts with that kind of responsibility. When I met Ben (Younger, the film’s writer-director) I just thought he was being nice, thought my agent had some pull. I’d just finished playing the funny, somewhat out-of-shape sidekick in this bad movie, so I really didn’t think I was on that list.”