Teller at the premiere of Two Night Stand in New York City this month.
Whiplash arrived at exactly the right time for Miles Teller. The 27-year-old actor was filming the sci-fi blockbuster Divergent when he saw the script for the tiny indie film about a demanding drum teacher and his protégée. “When I first read Whiplash, I was feeling dead inside,” Teller tells W magazine. “I didn’t have an interesting part [in Divergent], 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.”
Teller, who played the bully Peter in Divergent (and will reprise the role in the sequel Insurgent), wasn’t director Damien Chazelle’s first choice for Whiplash. As fate would have it, Dane DeHaan turned the part down, and Teller immediately started drum lessons to demonstrate his commitment. Under instructions from Chazelle, who wanted his character “pale and doughy,” Teller lost his Divergent muscle tone. He also isolated himself from the outside world, to the point where his friend and frequent co-star Shailene Woodley told W, “I tried to talk to Miles when he was making Whiplash, and it was difficult even to find him.”
All that commitment is paying off for Teller, whose turn as the aspiring jazz drummer (opposite veteran actor J.K. Simmons) received massive praise at the Sundance and Cannes film festivals. Whiplash opens in theaters on Oct. 10.
Watch the trailer for Whiplash below:
Photo: Getty Images