Miles Teller Talks ‘Whiplash’ and “Feeling Dead Inside” from ‘Divergent’

Miles Teller Hated Divergent

Actor Miles Teller might be best known to general audiences for starring in more teenage-oriented films like Footlose, Project X, 21 & Over, and That Awkward Moment, but critics are beginning to take notice of him for his dramatic performances in 2013’s The Spectacular Now and 2014’s Whiplash, both of which were Sundance Film Festival favorites. In Whiplash Teller portrays a talented jazz drummer who is under the tutelage of a strict jazz teacher, played by J. K. Simmons. Teller spoke to W about why he likes to audition for roles, what Whiplash meant to him as an actor, and the challenges of getting into his character for the film.

Unlike many other actors, Teller says that he enjoys auditioning for roles. He explains, “It’s like sports: I love the idea of doing a monologue and getting adjudicated. As the great actor Ed Harris said, ‘I see auditioning as a five-minute play starring only me.’”

Teller admits that Whiplash came at a time when he felt down on himself for having a small role in the blockbuster film Divergent that he wasn’t able to do much with. He reveals, “When I first read Whiplash, I was feeling dead inside. I didn’t have an interesting part, and I’d taken the film for business reasons: It was the first movie I’d done that was going to have an international audience. I called my agent and said, ‘This sucks.’ He told me about Whiplash.”

One of Teller’s biggest issues is that he had to transform himself physically before starring in Whiplash. He says, “I was in good shape from Divergent. Damien Chazelle, the director of Whiplash, told me, ‘Stop working out! Don’t go outside!’ He wanted me pale and doughy. This is the first movie where I shut myself off from the world. It was, by far, the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

As far as critics are concerned, the difficulty must have been worth it: Teller is receiving near universal praise for his performance, and Whiplash could end up being a career milestone for him.

Leave a Reply
Alicia Silverstone on ‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer’ and Working on Broadway
"My agent called and said, 'You need to go on this thing. It’s worth it. You should start preparing immediately" - Alicia Silverstone
Denzel Washington on ‘Roman J. Israel, Esq.’ and Why He Keeps Coming Back to Broadway
"I’m interested in different challenges, and challenging myself and just trying to get better." - Denzel Washington
Chadwick Boseman on Playing Black Panther: “I love him because the fantasy of playing a ruler – you never get to do that”
Boseman talks about portraying T'Challa's unique background on screen.
Willem Dafoe: “I don’t think you can keep doing the same thing as an actor and be free”
"All performing is about control and discipline versus abandon and just letting go." - Willem Dafoe
Mandy Patinkin: “I love doing research for any part that I do. That’s one of the most fun parts of being an actor to me”
Patinkin why he specifically sought a comedic project, the dedication he brings to his performances, and when his parents were finally convinced he could make a living as an actor.