The Secrets of Miles Teller and Keleigh Sperry's Fiercely Sweet Love Story

·15 min read

Miles Teller recently came across a nugget of wisdom on Twitter.

"If a woman asks you if you notice anything different about her, then you say, 'Yes, baby, I'm constantly amazed at your beauty,'" the actor shared on the May 12 episode of Barstool Sports' Starting 9 podcast.

He admitted that he hadn't yet tried it out on his wife, Keleigh Sperry, who at the time had been asking her husband what he thought of the dresses she was picking out for the various stops on his Top Gun: Maverick press tour. But Teller had confidence that, "if you do it with sincerity," such a line could work.

As it turns out, he thought all the dresses looked great ("I don't think I'm the best person to ask for that") and sincerely thinks Sperry is drop-dead gorgeous no matter what she wears. The "girl of my dreams," he called her when marking their second wedding anniversary last September. (They're celebrating three years Sept. 1)

Stars on the Red Carpet at Top Gun: Maverick Premiere in London

And he's not too shabby in her eyes, either. In fact, who's president of the Teller Thirst Trap TikTok Club that sprang up in honor of his brief but momentous shirtless scene in the Top Gun sequel?

Miles Teller, Top Gun: Maverick, shirtless screengrab
Paramount Pictures

"We're all team rooster here, thirst on," Sperry captioned her own video montage of behind-the-scenes (i.e. from their actual lives) footage of Teller taking her breath away, punctuating the sentiment with a diamond-ring-on-finger emoji.

Miles Teller and Keleigh Sperry, Instagram
Instagram

She's been sporting the real deal since Teller popped the question in 2017 after four years together, the couple having struck a resonant chord with each other when they first met at a party for rock duo The Black Keys in May 2013.

"Keleigh had caught my eye early in the night, and we talked," Teller recalled to Vogue in September 2019. "I didn't think it went well, but after a few more attempts, I got her to dance with me, and a week later, we went on a date. After we met, I knew she was the one."

Miles Teller and Keleigh Sperry, Instagram
Instagram

Sperry (whose first name is pronounced like "Kelly," for the record) remembered her future husband being "so charming and charismatic. I adored him from the first moment we met."

She also may have been inspired to join Instagram that very night, her very first pic a shot with Teller and some other friends from May 3, 2013.

Miles Teller and Keleigh Sperry, Instagram
Instagram

Teller had just started making a name for himself in films such as the heartbreaking Rabbit Hole, the remake of Footloose, and the teen drama The Spectacular Now when he met Sperry, so the model from Orange County, Calif., has been through it all with him, from the initial rise to the... ongoing rise.

Talking to Vanity Fair in 2016, Teller referred to one low point, a movie he politely wouldn't name, as "the only time my girlfriend's ever seen me say, 'My career is over.'"

Only one time? That's a pretty darn good track record in Hollywood! Though there was that time an Esquire writer deemed him "kind of a dick" in a 2015 profile, a headline-making turn of phrase that trailed him for a good while.

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"I try not to let that stuff affect my day to day," he told Vanity Fair. "I'm not the kind of person to Google myself, because you'll find whatever you're looking for. If you want to read something that says you're the greatest actor that ever lived, if you want to find something that is pretty hurtful, you'll find it."

Teller acknowledged to The Guardian in August 2016, however, that he felt "extremely misrepresented" and "a little angry" by that characterization. "For the average person, they are reading this article, they haven't met you, they're like, 'Oh Miles is an a--hole. You didn't hear it? You didn't read that Esquire? Yeah, she said he was an a--hole—he must be!'"

Fast-forward to 2020 and the devoted Philadelphia sports fan said on the Feb. 11 episode of Pardon My Take that it was "annoying how somebody can come up and say a little something, and for people who don't know you, yeah, it kind of soils your name a little bit. I think reputation is very important. But, you know, it's all good."

Miles Teller and Keleigh Sperry
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Though the Esquire article didn't refer to Sperry by name, she was mentioned as the actor's "model/aspiring swimsuit designer/professional girlfriend who thinks Teller is attractive enough to have permanently monogrammed her perfect ass with his initials."

Not to mention great enough to spend her life with.

"Happy anniversary my booshki," Sperry captioned her celebratory 'gram post on their second anniversary, "not sure how to put 8 years into 10 photos but I love you forever more thanks for being a stud of a husband, I adore you."

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Anyway, so by the time Teller was wowing audiences with his acting and drumming in the critically acclaimed Whiplash (that's also really him playing piano in Top Gun: Maverick), making the Divergent trilogy with BFF Shailene Woodley and otherwise achieving household name status, he was long since spoken for.

Sperry's Instagram page was, and remains, a testament to their idyllic-looking life together, Teller to this day still only on Twitter (though he does tweet the occasional Sperry photo). "Loving the Rooster love! Miles says thank you to everyone who has seen the film and he shares in this moment with you," she posted June 4 to Instagram on her husband's behalf.

"She does have a very active Instagram account so people can see where I'm at. Probably too much," Teller joked to E! News in March 2015. "What are you going to do? I'm not going to stop traveling because she likes Instagram."

Miles Teller and Keleigh Sperry, Instagram
Instagram

But really, the actor shared, "She's lovely. It's been pretty easy because right now, her full-time gig is kind of being with me and before her, I would never invite a girl into that world because I didn't think I could have both. She's allowed me to be able to really focus on acting and do what I want to do. She can come to set and visit me and hang out and doesn't really distract me from it."

And in case there was any doubt about how serious they were, ahead of their first-ever Oscars together in February 2015, Keleigh's father, Rand Sperry, called into Ryan Seacrest's KIIS-FM show to give the then-E! host a heads-up that his daughter would be Teller's date that weekend.

"He's a very proud, proud dad of you and very proud girlfriend's dad for you," Seacrest told the couple outside the Dolby Theater during E!'s live pre-show.

Miles Teller, Keleigh Sperry, 2015 Academy Awards, Couples
Jason Merritt/Getty Images

"He had all his facts down, and knew how many nominations [Whiplash] had and everything," Teller offered, "and...yeah, it was just funny to me."

While his fame was still burgeoning, he and Sperry were able to enjoy a fairly private courtship, an actor already down for the count never making quite as many headlines as the ones who are actively playing the field. But ultimately a long-term love story is the kind with a lot of adorable anecdotes.

Such as when he tweeted in April 2016 that he was dating "the one person who has never seen Titanic."

"She'll ask me to do something, I'll say, 'What?' and she'll say, 'For the last father-f--king time, can you grab me, the da-da-da,'" Teller shared on Starting 9. "I mean, she's a sweetheart, she just loves quoting J.K. Simmons to me."

And when Sperry isn't making Teller relive the terror of Simmons' Oscar-winning turn as his ruthlessly demanding music teacher in Whiplash, she's still helping his life run as smoothly as possible.

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"I'm with her now from when I wake up to the moment I go to bed," Teller told Men's Health in 2020 after months of pandemic-mandated staying at home. "We have a lot of friends whose relationships got put under a magnifying glass during these times, but we are really great. Once you get married and you make that ultimate commitment, life is just a lot less stressful. You just know that person is always going to be there."

Sometimes quite literally, as Sperry enjoys packing up and going on location with Teller whenever possible. At the time of that interview, the couple were headed to Australia for two months so Teller could shoot the sci-fi thriller Spiderhead with Chris Hemsworth, which premiered on Netflix this summer.

At the same time, Teller acknowledged on Starting 9, "there's a certain comfort you have with your wife" that isn't always conducive to immersing one's self in a role, such as the soldier suffering from PTSD he played in 2017's Thank You for Your Service, so sometimes Sperry won't join him on set right away.

Miles Teller, Keleigh Sperry
Paul Bruinooge/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

"Hey, you get comfortable, and I think for me, whenever I'm too comfortable, even those times in between, like the days of filming, I don't know if it's a good place for me," Teller explained. "I think...I need to be out of my comfort zone with it."

But he doesn't do the staying-in-character-all-the-time thing, he added, noting, "I can turn it off when I go home."

And Teller can't help but be comfortable at home (and not just because Sperry bought him a fancy Toto toilet with bidet and air-drying functions for Christmas one year, the acknowledgment of your partner's bodily functions the very definition of comfort).

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Teller reflected on their dynamic early on, telling Elle in 2014 that he felt the key to a successful relationship—going by his grandparents' 50-year union—was, "Respect the person you're with. My philosophy is, if I'm not happier when I'm with you, then there's no reason for me to be with you. I'm happy on my own."

And it sounded like Sperry was on the same page.

"We'll FaceTime and she'll come down and visit me on set," Teller said. "There's times that a text is appropriate. Other times you need to talk on the phone. The problem with people texting all the time is that if you're texting somebody everything you're doing throughout the day, there's no catch-up. It removes the recap. I think that's important."

Valentines Day 2018, Keleigh Sperry
Valentines Day 2018, Keleigh Sperry

He put a deposit down on forever in 2017, buying a ring and toting it with him when he and Sperry traveled to the Seychelles—where he purposely did not ask her to marry him because he figured she was expecting a proposal on the beach and he wanted to surprise her as much as possible—and South Africa that August.

"On safari, our jeep would stop for coffee every morning," Sperry told Vogue. "We stopped for our usual coffee break, and Miles and I were taking in the view when I spotted a rose on a tree. I was surprised to see a rose in the middle of winter in Africa, so I walked over and found a note attached to the rose that said the day we started dating and the day it was."

"I turned around," she continued, "and he read it and said, 'That was the first day you became my girlfriend and today is the last,' and he got down on one knee. It was so thoughtful and romantic."

Keleigh Sperry, Miles Teller, Engagement
Instagram

She didn't include the part where she thought something tragic had happened, assuming the flower was for memorial purposes.

"I had our guide early in the morning tie a rose to a tree, [and we] walked up to this nice scenic vista having coffee," Teller shared on Live With Kelly and Ryan in October 2017. "She looked over and saw a rose and thought somebody had died."

Happily, the only thing that passed was their non-engaged status, May 11, 2013-Aug. 20, 2017, R.I.P.

Miles Teller and Keleigh Sperry, Instagram
Instagram

In hindsight, "I don't know if I would recommend it," Teller quipped of his safari proposal to Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show. "It was beautiful and everything, but...You know, it's like we're doing kind of an engagement shoot as our game guide is, like, putting down his gun for a second and looking around, and we're trying to take photos, and there's elephants coming in."

But, he added, Sperry "watches The Bachelorette and stuff, so she felt like she had won...She had a final rose." (Let it be known, Teller said they are both Bachelor Nation fans.)

Miles Teller and Keleigh Sperry, Instagram
Instagram

To celebrate their engagement, proud dad Rand Sperry, who's on the advisory board of the clean water nonprofit Wells of Life that Keleigh has worked with for years, had one of the organization's new wells in Uganda dedicated in the couple's name, "to commemorate the day they promised to love each other forever," the plaque read.

Sperry gathered her squad, including her sisters and pal Nina Dobrev, for a May 2019 bachelorette party in Miami—matching hot pink shirts, white baseball caps, a boat, etc.—while Teller said farewell to his bachelor status at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas that July, kicking the weekend off at a steak dinner with his future in-laws before he and his friends hit the hotel's nightclub and private pool.

"The club presented him with a Top Gun-themed presentation that included a miniature fighter jet and go-go dancers with his name spelled in over-sized letters," an insider told Page Six of the festivities, also sharing that it remained "strictly a guys' weekend."

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While the couple are fond of beachy destinations in general (where there's water, sand and a gorgeous vista, there they are) Teller and Sperry chose Maui for their nuptials, the actor having become a regular on the annual Sperry family getaways to the Hawaiian island.

"Miles started joining us on vacations, and we fell in love with it together," the bride told Vogue. "We both felt happiest there and wanted it to be a big part of our lives forever."

Miles Teller and Keleigh Sperry, Instagram
Instagram

They got married on Sept. 1, 2019, at a Catholic church, following the vows with a waterfront reception at the Ritz Carlton Kapalua Hotel.

Teller wore a suit designed by Hedi Slimane for Celine, while Sperry chose custom Monique Lhuillier, wanting to "keep it elegant and classic since our ceremony was in a church, but I also wanted there to be a light feel to the dress," she explained. She wore the same necklace that belonged to her mom that her sisters had also worn on their wedding days.

Sperry changed into Katie May party dress after saying "I do" and the newlyweds had their first dance to Vince Gill's "If I Didn't Have You."

Miles Teller and Keleigh Sperry, Instagram
Instagram

A few months later, instead of gearing up for what was supposed to be the big 2020 premiere of Top Gun: Maverick, the pandemic shut everything down for months, so the jet-setting couple stayed home for a change, cooking dinner together and tending to their nest.

"Keleigh and I both worked on our backyard and did some landscaping," Teller told Men's Health later that year. "We planted a lemon tree, hydrangeas, and a rose garden. Since we were staring at our backyard a whole lot more than usual, we wanted to add color."

Of the unexpected time off from work, he added, "I'm not one of those people who worry about if people don't see me every six months. I don't feel like my career is dying. It's going to happen when it happens and that's fine."

Miles Teller and Keleigh Sperry, Instagram
Instagram

Plenty of signs of life in the universe since then. After making Spiderhead in Australia, Teller shot the making-of-The-Godfather series The Offer, now streaming on Paramount+, and he and Sperry appeared together as bride and groom in her friend Taylor Swift's video for "I Bet You Think About Me (Taylor's Version)," directed by Blake Lively. (Swift couldn't make their real wedding in 2019, but did send flowers.)

Teller and Sperry also famously attended the Kentucky Derby and spent time in Hawaii last summer with Woodley and her then-boyfriend Aaron Rodgers, Sperry's Instagram briefly serving as the center of the universe for inquiring minds. The whole Sperry family reunited in paradise for Keleigh's 29th birthday in October, and Nina Dobrev and boyfriend Shaun White were among the revelers who joined the celebration for Teller's 35th in February.

Among the other indications that Mr. and Mrs. Teller's honeymoon phase is ongoing, the couple also managed to squeeze in a trip to Bora Bora before the Top Gun: Maverick press tour finally got underway.

Miles Teller and Keleigh Sperry, Instagram
Instagram

Meanwhile, the excitement had continued to build for the big release, Teller having told Men's Journal when a 2021 premiere was still the plan, "I was able to see it a couple weeks ago. The movie just blew me away, and my wife said, 'That might be the best film I have ever seen.' She was crying multiple times."

No word on whether tears were shed when Top Gun: Maverick was delayed yet again, to May 2022. But as it turned out, the wait was worth it, from the five-minute standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival to the royal premiere with Prince William and Kate Middleton in London and the record Memorial Day weekend opening box office of $160 million.

And Teller was right. All of his wife's dresses looked good.

This story was first published on Wednesday, June 8, 2022 at 5 a.m. PT.

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