By J. Rentilly
QUICKLY ESTABLISHING HIMSELF as
one of the most gi;ed actors of his generation, 27-year-old Miles Teller knows that
balance is one of the keys to a good life. For
example, as an honor roll student with a 4.0
grade point average in high school, Teller
also knew how to make just enough mischief to keep things interesting, as a ruckus-causing youth. While he was a talented
athlete, he also devoted himself to his high
school’s drama program.
Today, Teller is fast ascending in the ;lm
world, mindfully balancing rigorous, textured
work in independent ;lms with substantial
turns in blockbuster fare like this spring’s ;e
Divergent Series: Insurgent and next summer’s
Fantastic Four. In Whiplash, a well-decorated
indie o;ering, Teller is absolutely riveting in
what is, essentially, a two-man show.
Opposite veteran character actor J.K.
Simmons, known for his roles in Juno,
SpiderMan, Up in the Air and TV’s ;e Closer, Teller
delivers a mesmerizing slow burn, a simmering, combustible performance as a young jazz
drummer under the brutal instruction of
Simmons’ blustery, volcanic jazz maestro. ;e
;lm is available on DVD/Blu-ray this month.
;e Connection recently spoke with Teller
on the phone to discuss this latest role.
The Costco Connection: Is there a big
di;erence for you, acting in a small ;lm like
Whiplash and doing a big-budget series such as
Miles Teller: I don’t say this with any judgment, but if an actor wants to do something a
little darker, a little grittier, he’s probably going
to be working on an independent movie. Ten
years ago, the studios made dramas, but [now]
it’s mostly a lot of comedies and superhero
things, and that’s cool. ;e dramas are le; to
the little independent films, where there’s
never enough money or enough time.
For me, acting is acting, but there is something kind of “romantic” or “real” about doing
one of those indie movies. Sometimes you
have to provide your own wardrobe. Sometimes you’re doing makeup in a public bathroom. You just have to get it done, and I really
love that. Other times, it’s, like, “A dressing
room would be nice.”
CC: Your performance in Whiplash is just
dynamite. It’s also very understated.
MT: ;e most exciting stu; for me as an
actor, personally, it’s not the words or the
speeches or the big stu;. What’s most interesting to me, at the end of the day, is when
people aren’t talking.
So in Whiplash, J.K. is just spewing all of
this volatile, venomous stu;, and he’s just killing it—and my job, the thing my character
needed from me, was to just hold on to this
quiet determination to get better as a musician, this refusal to break, this focus, this
drive. ;at really excited me.
The Costco Connection
Whiplash is available on Blu-ray/Digital HD at
Costco. (Item #967838, available 2/24)
CC: On a ;lm like Whiplash, there couldn’t
have been a lot of time to “get it right.” It’s a two-hander—just you and J.K. Simmons.
MT: Yeah, we shot that in 19 days, so there
was absolutely a lot of pressure on that ;lm.
When you’re working with a guy like J.K.,
though, he’s always going to bring it.
He’s so professional. He’s so good. He’s got
this amazing background in theater. He’s totally
there for you as an actor, and he’s never going to
let down the crew. With him and me, it fell
together very nicely. We just started doing the
scenes, and then we kept raising the bar. I know
the movie’s pretty explosive, but the set was
actually pretty easygoing. ;ere was a lot of sitting around, telling stories, a lot of laughter.
CC: ;ere’s a story going around that you pursued acting because of a crush you had on your
high school’s drama teacher. True story?
MT: [Laughs] Growing up, this buddy of
mine was taking a drama class, and there was
a play coming up and he said I should audition
for it with him. So I gave it a shot, and I got a
part. I really, really enjoyed it. By my junior
year, I was in all of the plays. In my senior year,
I was Drama Club president. I just fell in love
with it. And, yeah, the drama teacher was very,
very pretty. That probably didn’t hurt. C
J. Rentilly is a Los Angeles–based writer.
SONY PICTURES CLASSICS
finds the right tempo
in Whiplash Miles Teller (left) takes instruction from J.K. Simmon’s
psychotic maestro (right).
arts & entertainment
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Whiplash. (See page 12 for details.)