Miles Teller on ‘The Spectacular Now’ and ‘Divergent’

Just Jared sat down with  Miles Teller and talked to him about ‘The Spectacular Now’ and ‘Divergent’! Miles is a really great guy and this is a great interview! miles-teller-jjj-interview

Just Jared: What about this script made you want to get involved?

Miles Teller: Everything. Without being too general. First of all I loved the character, I mean I just loved the story. I knew that I would be able to play the charismatic and do all that stuff, but I was so happy that it shows you the depth and you get the stuff like with his dad. Then once Shailene [Woodley] was attached I was just excited to work with her. Then I saw Smashed and so I was excited to work with James [Ponsoldt, director]. Then everything just kind of came together. As an entire script, it was probably the best script I’ve ever read. Usually you get like, there’s a version of this script that the first twenty minutes is the whole movie. So yeah, I was happy that I would get the opportunity. It also made me nervous because I didn’t know if I would be able to do it. It was like a nice stretch.

JJ: So you were attached before Shailene Woodley was?

Miles: No, Shailene was attached, and then I auditioned for it a long time ago when it was a different director, I bombed the audition, they went with somebody else. That fell apart, and then James came along. Shailene was attached and another guy was attached, I think it was Nicholas Hoult. Then James wanted to meet with me in a bar for however long, I think thirty minutes. So we ended up staying there and drinking for two hours, just eating appetizers and just talking. At the end of that he was like ‘I want to offer it to you, I need to convince the producers and stuff but I think you’re perfect for this part.’ I was like, ‘Yes! I am! Don’t look at my audition tape, it’s really bad, but I am perfect for this part! I know I can do it!’

JJ: Did you read The Spectacular Now to prepare at all?

Miles: I read it, not necessarily, yeah I guess I did read it to prepare. My version of the character is from my own kind of understanding of him. In the book he’s a little different, but I absolutely read the book.

JJ: So James let you put your own spin on it?

Miles: For sure. I went shopping for some of my own wardrobe. James, Shailene, and I would just go through a scene and James would say if you don’t want to say this, if that doesn’t feel real to you, you don’t have to say it. So James gave us a lot of creative control.

JJ: You guys filmed in Georgia in August – what was that like?

Miles: Hot! I grew up in Florida, so that humid, sticky, like over a hundred heat sucks. Everybody is sweating, there’s a lot of sweat in the movie which is great, I love it!

JJ: Do you prefer shooting on location as opposed to in a studio?

Miles: Yes, I hate shooting in L.A. It’s just, I mean some stuff you have to shoot in a studio. But like for Spectacular Now the bedroom of my character, the house, the living room of Shailene’s character, that all felt very real and as an actor that helps you out. Plus I don’t like filming in L.A. because I come home and my roommates are playing house music at like 3AM and I’m like dude, I gotta go shoot a movie. It’s nice to be able to disappear and you only have to focus on, that’s why I like shooting on location, the only thing I have to do in my life is film this movie and make this movie as best that I can.

JJ: So being on location really helps you get into character?

Miles: It does, it allows you the freedom privacy. I’ll talk to my friends, I’ll talk to my family and stuff, but at the same time I’m not existing over there. We’re not talking about things that happened like a week ago. We’re staying in touch, but I don’t have to deal with anything.

JJ: Your chemistry with Shailene is very organic on screen. Did you spend a lot of time together beforehand?

Miles: Not really. We met for a lunch with James, that was pretty much it. Then we had one session where me, her and James sat down with the script, went through the scenes, and went beat-by-beat and said does this make sense, is this real? The first scene we shot was that cafeteria scene. I think we bonded because we filmed that scene and we both didn’t really like it. We wanted to film more but we had already moved on, so I think just as actors we kind of have similar techniques.

JJ: Do you think The Spectacular Now is more of a love story or more about Sutter’s coming of age story?

Miles: I think those are kind of synonymous. I would assume that you have that one relationship as you’re going through those times in high school that you feel is really important. Your first love lost is hard, and most people who are older still have feelings for that first true love. I think it’s all those things.

JJ: Did you relate to the story at all from when you were a teenager?

Miles: I relate to Sutter very much so. I think that we both had it pretty bad. I was friends with everybody, and I think Sutter was friends with everybody but very few people knew Sutter. I don’t think he ever really had anyone over his house, I think he was the guy always going around. I had that, and I was a pretty popular kid in high school, but also I had straight A’s. I played drums in a rock band but I also played saxophone in jazz. My buddies that I have today are still my buddies from high school. None of those guys were in any of my academic classes, those were just guys that we used to throw parties and stuff. But at the same time I was president of the drama club. Yeah, well rounded. I played baseball, I played sports.

JJ: In the film, Sutter tells his best friend that he’s not really attacted to Aimee, he’s just doing her a favor. Do you think that’s legit or is he actually attracted to her from the get go?

Miles: No, I definitely think he’s attracted to her from the get go. Shailene’s a cute girl, and as Aimee Finnicky she’s still cute. I think maybe he’s trying to, a bit of him does want to help her out. Like when they’re first having that talk and he’s like, ‘Who do you just want to tell to like, whatever?’ So I do think he’s trying to help her out, but at the same time he’s obviously attracted to her. And she’s different, she sees through him a little bit. She wants him to be better.

JJ: This role is a lot different than other roles you’ve done. Was it important to you to branch out?

Miles: Yeah, I mean, some of these guys are like, ‘Are you worried about being typecast as the party guy?’ because I did 21 and Over and now The Spectacular Now. I mean yeah it’s important for sure, I think as an actor you get very few opportunities to really show your skills. Bottom line is there are only a certain amount of movies that get made and there are only a certain amount of actors that get to do it. So if you can have enough range to where you can do different stuff and get a project that will be a nice showcase for it, then yeah. But I was just happy to do the movie because I put so much into it. But for my career wise, yes it is nice to show people that I can carry a movie and that I can, yeah, do that.

JJ: When you’re reading a script what’s something that you look for?

Miles: I think relationships. In a movie you see who a person is by their relationships to other people. Like what’s their relationship with their best friend, who are they in front of this girl? It’s just gotta read honestly to me. I’ve got such a high bullshit meter that I’m not gonna do anything that seems a little to, that doesn’t make sense. You need a full script. If it’s comedy I just have to think it’s funny, it needs to be my sense of humor.

JJ: Do you prefer doing comedy over drama?

Miles: No, not really. I like all of it, but. Before Divergent I did like, two romantic comedies. So, I didn’t really do that. Comedy is hard, man. People don’t understand that it’s hard to be “on” for twelve hours a day, every day. Especially when that’s your character, when you’re like the comedic pulse of something. You wake up some days and you’re just like, I don’t, I don’t really, can’t I just hang out in the corner? I don’t really want to bring everyone up and make everyone laugh. When I was in high school everyone thought I was like the class clown, and in my drama program I remember I was doing something that was supposed to be very serious, and everyone just started cracking up and that frustrated me, that annoyed me. I went to my drama teacher and said find me some serious stuff, I want to sharpen those tools, it’s important to me. I didn’t want to just be a joke.

JJ: From your experience, what is the main difference between making an independent film and making a studio film?

Miles: Freedom. If you do a studio film you’ll have twenty people agreeing on a wardrobe. Your character is going through a lot more filters, there’s a lot more hands on and touching. Where with an independent film you really get a lot more creative control. I mean for Sutter, like I said, they let me go to a thrift store and pick out my own clothes. James was like if you don’t want to say this, you don’t have to say this. It’s more personalized, I think.

JJ: Do you prefer that?

Miles: Yeah, I think I do. Studios don’t really make dramas any more. They really don’t.

JJ: Alright, tell us about Divergent – Have you read all of the books?

Miles: I read Divergent, but I didn’t read it in it’s entirety because I didn’t feel personally that I needed to know what’s going on with Tris and Four. I didn’t think Peter really had to know that stuff, or that Miles really needed to know that stuff. But in Insurgent I save her life at one point, in the first book Peter’s a bit superficial on the page.

Shailene Woodley discusses her various roles in The Descendants, The Spectacular Now and Divergent

A24 presents the LA special screening of THE SPECTACULAR NOW

In a Q & A with Yahoo! Movies, Shailene Woodley talks about playing characters of different ages in her most-talked about current movies – The Descendants, The Spectacular Now and Divergent.

Check out excerpts below:

How do you personally resemble your characters Alexandra from “The Descendants” and Aimee from “The Spectacular Now?”
I’m a mix of all of them. I had the anger and the complex emotional drama of Alexandra. I also had the tenderness and the audacity and the search for knowledge of Aimee. Combining them is a healthy mix of who I was as a teen.

Now you play an honor student that takes to the flask and loses her virginity…
Aimee also comes from a broken family situation but while Alexandra wallowed in self-pity, Aimee found strength and turned it into a passion for future. She did get the grades, and was in the French Club and then she met someone.

And it’s back to being a teenager for “Divergent,” which opens big next March
I play Tris, a sixteen to eighteen year old who has to choose to value herself over her family. In the future there are many factions, and once you leave your birth faction you don’t return. In the course of the story Tris experiences the consequences of leaving her family behind. Her actions highlight her bravery and selflessness at the same time.

Have you personally had to break away from your family to hammer out your own identity, particularly as your star has risen?
I have the most magical profound family in the planet. I’m grateful for the fact every day. I spend most of my time with family and best friends. They go everywhere with me. I’m lucky that I didn’t have to try and maintain my relationships. They are maintained. You don’t have to think about breathing and I don’t have to worry about losing anybody because we’re all so interwoven into each other so closely.

It’s refreshing to hear the candor in her answers, don’t you think? Read the rest of the interview for more here.

New Interview with Shailene Woodley and Miles teller for The Spectacular Now!

Our friends at were able to attend a press day yesterday for ‘The Spectacular Now’ in Los Angeles and got a chance to sit down with Miles Teller and Shailene woodley! Check out the interview below:

Question: (To Miles) I love the fact that we got to see you for 21 and over, we have no alcohol here but this is a movie about alcohol but in different context. Do we have a theme developing here?

Miles: I mean, Yes. Somebody asked me if I was worried about being type casted as “The Party Guy” but I think that’s a part of this movie. I don’t think it’s necessarily surrounded about it. But I do, I like to partake, drink and stuff. If we were at a bar right now, me and my buddies would be the ones–

Shailene: Sipping Pineapple Juice!

Miles: Yeah, getting it going.

Question: What is it for each of you that attracted you to the film and had you read the book at some point before?

Shailene: He read the book, I didn’t read the book because Aimee was depicted very differently in the book, and the way that I chose to play her in the movie was sort of a very different choice. So I didn’t read the books because I didn’t think it applied to the movie we were making. But you read the book (to Miles).

Miles: Yeah I read the book. I just thought it was important for me. The book is completely from Sutter’s point of view. I just thought people would ask me so I thought it’d be good. In the books Sutter’s a little different. He always says things like “Fabuloso” and is known as the “Sutterman” and just certain things that I wanted to carry over into the movie, just to give like a wink to people who had read the book but I couldn’t say “fabuloso” with a straight face. And I would try, I would talk to people like “Oh man, so fabuloso” and just give them a look to see if it went okay and every time I’d get “what’d you just say?”.

Question: In the movie, Sutter goes and looks at comic books after he finds out that Aimee likes them, have you guys ever done that in real life? Like done the research about on something you’re not that into for a person that you liked? 

Miles: Yeah, I play instruments and there was a girl and her favorite song was Tiny Dancer so I learned that on guitar and I played it for her.

Shailene: Who?

Miles: Just this girl…

Shailene: It was actually me.

Question: Is there anything that the two of you did to help develop your relationship so it would be believable and go with the natural flow?

Miles: I think Shailene and I are very present actors and when you get a scene, it’s a shared scene, and I don’t know what Shailene’s gonna do, I kinda know what I’m gonna do, but at the same time, I’m not gonna force her to do anything. At the end of the day, you’re talking to a person, so if she was doing something different, I just respond to it. And I think both of us really enjoy, not knowing where the scene was going to go necessarily, and just really being like present, and in the moment. So we match up well in that regard. Because some actors will be like  ”hey when you do that, it really messes me up” or “can you just not do that right there” and will really try to direct you but we didn’t have that.

Shailene: Yeah, we’re very lucky we just naturally have that rhythm with each other.

Question: You guys have such a great romantic chemistry in the Spectacular Now, it’s going to be a little different in Divergent–

Miles: Well maybe, the third book’s not out yet, I think Peter and Tris will have a child and then that’s where the next book picks up.

Shailene: I think the child’s name is Allegiant.

Question: So how do you think your romantic chemistry here will translate in Divergent?

Shailene: I think it’ll seem like we don’t like each other but I think there will always be some sexual tension. 


Miles: And I just echo that sentiment. 

No but it does allow for–even though our characters might not be getting along, as actors we can still work together and try to get the best scene down. But I was raised by two older sisters man. And I love them, but at the same time they used to beat me up all the time. My older sister was kind of a bully to me, so all those emotions were there. I channeled it to Tris. 


Question: Coming off from 21 and over and this film, what do you look for, in terms of a script? 

Miles: Alcohol. (laughs) If it doesn’t have a drink, I don’t do it. I don’t know, I guess last year was interesting. I certainly wasn’t looking to play a high schooler in the time I did this. It was last year, I did four films last year and I played two post college and one where I was early 20′s. But I did it because it was the best script. And I always want to do the best thing available and for me I think I have a high interest in comedy, at the same time I just did two comedies so… I’m going to do something in September that is going to be more dramatic but to me it’s just whatever hits me at that time. I did some comedy stuff recently and I don’t really care to make somebody laugh for this next one. And that’ll be nice.

Question: You’ve got a great relationship with Brie Larson in the role of Cassidy. How do you approach the two different dynamics with your two women?

Miles: Well blondes are more fun.

Shailene: Ummm… I’m pretty sure you chose me. And so.

Miles: I like the tone in your voice when you said that. She might be more fun but… I got you. Bri’s a really really good actress, obviously. And she brought something completely different to the role of Cassidy that I thought. Like if you read the book, she always talks about Cassidy like being “beautifully fat” but she was also like that girl you know. She was like the blonde and I don’t know Bri just kinda filled her out and gave her a strong head on her shoulders. I mean, Cassidy dumps me and moves on from me. And Bri’s a very strong woman. Even in the way she stands, she stands with a lot of power so. Every person in this movie is a great person to work with.

Question: And of course you have Kylie Chandler as your father and Jennifer Jason as your mother… 

Miles: Yeah Kyle is awesome. I had never seen Friday Night Lights so I didn’t know what to expect. And they just said, “Youtube” coach. And it comes up and I watch it and I was like, oh my gosh this guy is just the most All-American guy you want to go to war for. And he just really embodies all those qualities. But when I met him on set, he was not he was just pretty much this dude. And not saying he wasn’t nice or respectful he was just–that character I know really scared him that he wasn’t gonna be able to do it. Because it is so different than anything he’s ever played but he was like… He was messing up his blocking, he was forgetting lines, he was shaky. And I was just like man, this dude is unprofessional. I don’t even know if I thought that, it was just weird watching him the whole time. Because before that it was just me and Shailene and then you bring in Kyle, such a well-trained, solid actor, and we were just sitting there watching. At one point he’s talking with what sounds like a lisp. And Shailene and I were like, does he have fake teeth in or something?

Shailene: He’s a genius.

Question: There’s one part where your character, Shailene, says that “opposites attract”. Is that a philosophy that you have? 

Shailene: No. I mean, I think it’s different with a lot of different people. I mean, we are complete opposites but we attract to each other so… Yeah. But no, I think every relationship brings something new to the table. That’s a line from Spectacular Now… You’re able to learn something new within each dynamic and I think that that’s important to carry with you sort of throughout life.

Question: And what did you each learn new through these performances? 

Shailene: I’d never done a movie where I was able to play as much with another actor. I mean, in Descendants Alexander gave free reign and we just played the whole time but I only had a few scenes with a guy my age in that movie so I never had a movie where I had somebody where our relationship allowed for that sort of playful existence and that was really fun. It was really exciting.

Miles: Really at the end of it I had grown so much as an actor. I’d done this movie “Get a Job” right before. Like literally right before. It was the first movie that I was the lead in. And I remember being a bit uncomfortable about it. Because there were all these actors around me with Anna Kendrick, Bryan Cranston, actors that had been much more established. But I was like this main character. And I felt sheepish. And I didn’t own up to the fact that it was my movie. I didn’t really know what to do with that and it felt maybe, kind of like in borrowed territory. By the end of Spectacular Now, since I really am in every scene in that movie, I really felt that, you’re shooting 25 days, 3 scenes a day and it’s just go. There’s not any time to shy away. I called it like bootcamp. But then I realized, if you are the lead in a film, carry that with a lot of pride and you do need to be like a leader and it’s your story. Own it.

Question: When you guys were shooting the movie, did you guys know how well it was gonna do? 

Shailene: No, we definitely didn’t.

Miles: It felt so natural and so real that it felt like we were making something very good. Being on set is such a wave of emotion, because you do a great scene and you feel so pumped but then you do this other scene and it’s not working and then you’re having to deal with that. It’s always kind of back and forth so I think now that we’ve seen it we feel that it’s pretty special.

Shailene: We are very proud of this movie because movies like this aren’t really being made and if they are, they’re usually dealing with adults and it’s like Alexander Payne is sort of making movies like that. It’s really exciting having a coming of age film representing this generation that resembles a John Hughes film or an old Cameron Crowe film.

Miles: You don’t usually see a vampire like Sutter walk around during the day. Usually his kind of people are only around at night.