Earlier this week, Esquire published a profile of the actor Miles Teller, the star of this summer’s Fantastic Four and last year’s Oscar-nominated Whiplash. Running over 2000 words, the piece reads, at best, like a botched hatchet job executed with the dullest possible blade. Every aspect of the article feels amateurish, from its arbitrarily chosen second-person perspective to its inability to forge a coherent structure out of that most chaotic of events: a lunch in Atlanta. Even its eminently provable declarative thesis (Miles Teller Is A Dick) fails in comparison to its interrogative counterpart (Is Miles Teller A Dick?) Out of the whole disastrous enterprise, the people who come out most resembling dicks are the Esquire editors who deemed it publishable. To right this wrong, I’ve fixed their mistake, rewriting the piece’s more egregious parts and editing it down to a breezy 1400 words. You’re welcome, Esquire. Miles Teller is fucking chill.
Miles Teller is Young, Talented, and He Doesn’t Care What You Think
Is Miles Teller a dick, breh? Sitting in Atlanta’s Luminary restaurant, proclaiming that the highball glasses were modeled after his cock, as the champagne coupe was shaped to resemble Marie Antoinette’s left breast, does he project a certain…dickishness? When he relays this information to the waitress, are his words befitting those, of a dick?
Teller is wearing a V-neck, chlorine-blue, dick-chic, that shows off the Roman-numeral tattoo on his inner arm, a reference to the 32-oz beers his high school friends were forced to buy because forties weren’t available in Florida. Everyone in the “32 Crew” got the tattoo, after a night at the High Octane Saloon. They bribed a man out of bed, at 2:00 AM, to needle crooked X‘s and I‘s onto their biceps.
He recounts a direct message that he–a 28-year-old actor still searching for his place in the profession–sent to five-time NBA champion and infamous dick Kobe Bryant, through Twitter, about the isolating elements of greatness, a feeling to which Teller can relate. He says he wants to contribute to the body of great acting, to the—cache? catalog? canon? Whatever. He believes he has something to offer, and it’s hard not to agree with him.
Teller’s admittedly limited body of work, his oeuvre-a word he needs spelled out and defined–is pretty great. His first major role, in 2010’s Rabbit Hole, was as a tremulous teenager who runs over and kills the son of a couple played by Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart. His performance in last year’s Whiplash, the two-hander about the abusive relationship between a music teacher and his student, won Teller much-deserved attention and tickets to the Oscars. In between there was the fun, stupid spate of movies in which Teller played the types of characters who would tell waitresses that the highball glasses were molds of his dick: 21 & Over, Two Night Stand, Project X, That Awkward Moment. Not all of them were winners, but they allowed him to show his Tellerian essence by talking faster, drinking more, and seeming to give fewer shits than anyone else. Now, with Divergent and Fantastic Four, he’s transitioning to the action game.
The waitress leaves, shrugging off his comment about the highball glass, and Teller begins to talk about his hair. He has mentioned how nice it is in more than one interview, a little defensively, maybe acknowledging that he’s not the best-looking, or even the third-best-looking, guy in most of his movies. “I probably think I’m better-looking than the public thinks I am,” he says with a laugh. And, taking stock, the nose is crooked, the eyelids fleshy and the chin soft, the cheeks mottled with flush. He’s right though—he has good hair, thick and cowlicked and widow’s-peaked. He’s tall, solidly muscled, with a nice tan from filming Todd Phillips’s big-budget comedy Arms and the Dudes with Jonah Hill in Miami. He’s appealingly attainable, a good-looking guy who shouldn’t know he’s good-looking, except that he dates a 22-year-old model who thinks Teller is attractive enough to tattoo her perfect ass with his initials.
Then there are the scars—on his chin, his left cheek, his neck. He was in a car accident in 2007, flung thirty feet through the windshield on the way home from a jam-band festival. The scars are why he doesn’t have friends from college.
“My junior-year roommate from NYU was driving my car when we got in the accident. And it was an accident. I never blamed him. I got a lot of laser surgery on my face, like what they use for getting rid of tattoos. Like, very painful. But I never wanted him to feel bad, so I never made anything out of it, ever.” He’s speaking louder and faster now. The flush creeps up his neck, highlighting the scars a little more. “I didn’t hold that against him. No big deal. But I was racking up all these medical bills, so we had to sue his insurance because he was driving. It’s not like we’re suing him; we’re suing his insurance. He comes to me. He’s like, ‘Miles, I don’t know if we can be friends when my parents’ insurance premiums are going to go up.’ After that I was like, ‘Man, fuck you. Like, I’ve never made you feel bad for this. For you to make me feel guilty and make me feel like you’re the victim here, that’s really fucked up.” He shrugs to show that he doesn’t give a shit about his finished friendships, despite those scars glowing pale against his cheeks. “And my other friends starting living with this kid.”
A year later, two of Teller’s best friends died in car accidents, five weeks apart. “I was in the hospital when they pulled the plug on my one friend,” he says. While filming Rabbit Hole, Teller shared a scene with Kidman in which he apologizes for killing her child, and director John Cameron Mitchell told him to think about his friend, Beau, during the scene. “I didn’t wanna do it,” he says. “And I still think you shouldn’t use acting as therapy.”
The waitress delivers the entrées, then it’s back to his oeuvre. Or rather: a dissertation on other people’s oeuvres and how they might affect Miles Teller’s oeuvre. Clearly, Teller has spent a lot of time thinking about the careers of other actors. He launches into an animated rant about Leo and Bradley and Jake Gyllenhaal and Vince Vaughn, and how it’s almost impossible to win an Academy Award as a man under thirty, also Tom Hanks, and Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeff Bridges, Dustin Hoffman. He says he earned $5,000 for Rabbit Hole, $7,000 for The Spectacular Now, $8,000 for Whiplash—all small independent films. If he wanted to make any kind of living, he says, he’d have to do ten a year.
No need. He’s in a different realm now, and he waves off the notion that the appeal of his roles in Divergent and Fantastic Four was purely financial. Of course, he knows that what’s next is not always up to him. He was supposed to play the lead in the Whiplash follow-up, La La Land, but director Damien Chazelle later changed his mind about Teller being creatively right for the project. Teller remembers sending him a text, What the fuck bro?
Is Miles Teller going to let that get him down? Fuck no. He’s going to produce his own movies, movies like the bank-robbery ensemble piece The Life and Times of the Stopwatch Gang and a family drama, Home Is Burning. For now though, he’s going to order another beer. Something local. He knows he’s always being watched now. A bunch of people in the restaurant looked a second longer than normal when he walked in. He’s recognized every day, he says. A widely circulated TMZ clip from earlier this summer shows Teller at the BottleRock Napa Valley music and wine festival. In the video, he seems to be performing a solo line dance with intricate footwork and purposeful, lawn-crossing, Mick Jagger strutting. There’s a shirt toss-and-catch. It’s hard not to assume powerful hallucinogens were involved in its choreography.
“I don’t give a shit,” he says. “I can either censor myself or not. It’s how you deal with the paparazzi. Do you live your life with all these filters and censors because everyone has a camera? Or do you fucking dance how you would dance and have people say, ‘Oh, he’s on drugs’? I was at a fucking Brett Dennen concert.” A fucking Brett Dennen concert. Does that sound like any place for a dick?
After lunch, Teller orders an Uber, specially requesting its “Do Not Rape” service. He parses yet another career that isn’t the one he wants. Aaron Eckhart was one of the leads in Rabbit Hole, and Teller was so intimidated he could barely get through their first scene together. But recently, he worked with Eckhart again, in the boxing movie Bleed for This. “Now, in Bleed for This, he’s my trainer, the overweight, kind of supporting character actor,” Teller says. “It’s hard to get to the right position, to be somebody who is commercially successful and critically acclaimed. That’s the sweet spot.”
With that, potential dick Miles Teller is off to contribute to the cache, or the catalog, or the canon, or whatever the fuck you call it.