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Whiplash and Beyond: The Rise of Miles Teller

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Project X, 21 & Over and That Awkward Moment. Three bad, and at times, insufferable teen movies, where even labelling them as comedies seems a rather loose term. And yet they share one thing in common: Miles Teller was the best thing about them all, by some distance. Even in mediocre pictures this talented young performer has still managed to stand out, with an infectious enthusiasm and distinct affability that makes for an actor we can relate to, and be beguiled by.

Thankfully Teller doesn’t thrive in just being the best thing about a bad movie though, and is known to make compelling, memorable pictures of his own; as sandwiched in-between the aforementioned, unfulfilling endeavours comes the likes of Rabbit Hole, The Spectacular Now, and most recently, the simply sublime drama Whiplash: his finest hour (and three quarters).

In the critically lauded Damien Chazelle feature, Teller plays Andrew – a promising young drummer who has aspirations to be one of the very best. He is then pushed, right to the very limit, by his uncompromising instructor Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) who demands nothing but perfection. It’s an exhilarating, truly captivating production, and the lead actor shines – displaying that same charisma we’ve seen before, but with an added degree of unflinching determination, which can bring out the very worst in people. It’s a different side to his demeanour, but Teller takes it in his stride, and if it wasn’t for the immensely high standard of acting performances this past year, he could have found himself featuring more prominently in the awards’ season.

So what is it about this actor that generates such appeal for the audience? First and foremost he is incredibly funny, with a deft comic touch that has served him well; usually playing quite abrasive, almost ‘Stifler’ type roles – except he always displays a sense of vulnerability. This was most evident in The Spectacular Now, which has been spectacularly ignored by UK distributors, as he plays that same, confident, class clown, and yet suffers from an alcohol addiction.

The future looks immensely bright for Teller, and you just know that the best is still to come. He’s teaming up with Chazelle yet again in the director’s next project La La Land, while also flexing his comedic abilities yet again in Get a Job, alongside Anna Kendrick and Bryan Cranston. We can also see how he fares with true character acting, starring as Vinny Pazienza in a biopic of the inspiration boxer. And last but not least, he’ll make his first venture into the Marvel universe in this summer’s big blockbuster release The Fantastic Four portraying Mr. Fantastic – a character name that seems befitting of an actor who, at present, is exactly that and more.

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About Stefan Pape

Stefan Pape is a film critic and interviewer who spends most of his time in dark rooms, sipping on filter coffee and becoming perilously embroiled in the lives of others. He adores the work of Billy Wilder and Woody Allen, and won’t have a bad word said against Paul Giamatti.

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