For a period of time, Miles Teller was at the top of the Hollywood totem pole. After landing a part in the critically-acclaimed Rabbit Hole, his first feature film ever, the actor found himself with a slew of projects, all culminating in what many consider to be one of the top films of the 21st century: Whiplash. While much of the attention went to J.K. Simmons’ virtually flawless performance as an intense jazz instructor, Teller more than held his own against the acting veteran, perfectly embodying an aspiring musician who doesn’t want to just settle for what’s average. He soon made the leap from Oscar contenders to blockbusters with a prominent role in the Divergent series.
For a while, it seemed like you couldn’t go a single week to the movie theater without seeing Teller’s face pop up somewhere, but something strange has happened over the last few years. His last film role was in 2017’s Thank You for Your Service, and he’s mostly been MIA as of late. The Divergent franchise may never get its final movie in the series, but surely there are other roles for the young actor out there. As it turns out, his recent absence from the spotlight can probably be attributed to a few different factors… some of which are more innocuous than others.
A little thing called ‘COVID-19’ happened
Miles Teller isn’t done exercising his acting chops just yet. Back in 2018, news broke that the actor had been cast as Bradley "Rooster" Bradshaw in the upcoming Top Gun: Maverick. Bradley is the son of Goose (Anthony Edwards) from the original film, and he appears to be following in his father’s footsteps by becoming a pilot trainee. It’s the kind of big-budget production Teller needed after two of his higher-profile projects, Fantastic Four and The Divergent Series: Allegiant, failed to make a big impression at the box office.
The main problem with this is that Top Gun: Maverick keeps getting pushed back. It was originally supposed to come out back in 2019 but was delayed into 2020. We all know what happened at that point.
Paramount pushed Top Gun: Maverick, along with most of its other offerings, into 2021 and beyond so that audiences would be able to experience big-screen spectacle from the comfort of a movie theater without worrying about coronavirus. In the meantime, fans could see the actor in the 2019 Amazon original series, Too Old to Die Young, but that was canceled after its first season. Still, going a couple years between films for a burgeoning young star is pretty unusual, and his perceived persona may have played a role in that.
He had a disastrous interview with Esquire
In 2015, Esquire wanted to do a cover story on Miles Teller. Pretty standard stuff, especially given the fact he had just starred in a major comic book adaptation with Fantastic Four, so you would think Teller would be on his best behavior. Here’s the first line of the article in question: "You’re sitting across from Miles Teller at the Luminary restaurant in Atlanta and trying to figure out if he’s a d**k."
While the Esquire piece does compliment his body of work, most people were too distracted by how much Teller came across as, to put it lightly, a jerk. Salon went so far as to gather some choice quotes from the cover story that didn’t exactly paint the actor in the best light, such as when he compared a high ball glass to a part of his anatomy or when he made a distasteful joke when ordering the reporter an Uber.
It wasn’t the best look for the up-and-coming actor, but he didn’t seem to pay it much mind. He would later tell Vulture, "People outside of the business will think of me however they want, but I want people inside the business to see everything I can do. I gotta get moving."
He lost his chance to star in La La Land
Even when the public’s perception of you changes ever so slightly, one good role can turn everything around. After coming off the immense success of Whiplash, Teller was set to reunite with director Damien Chazelle for his next film, the Academy Award darling La La Land, in the lead role that would eventually go to Ryan Gosling. So, what happened?
Emma Watson, who was originally attached to star in the role that went to Emma Stone, also had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts with Beauty and the Beast (via Vanity Fair). Teller’s departure is a bit murkier, but as he would tell Esquire, "I got a call from my agent, saying, ‘Hey, I just got a call from Lionsgate. Damien told them that he no longer thinks you’re creatively right for the project. He’s moving on without you.’" The actor elaborated on his departure somewhat in his later interview with Vulture: "A couple people know the truth… I’ll go to my grave knowing that when push came to shove I expressed extreme loyalty to Damien and that movie. That’s sorta all I can say."
With a chance to show off his singing prowess and star in another Best Picture nominee, it’s interesting to think about what Teller’s career would’ve been like has La La Land made it onto his resume.
He got in trouble for public intoxication in 2017
Teller got himself a bad-boy reputation in the aftermath of his Esquire interview, and that image was only further cemented when he got into a bit of a rough spot with Johnny Law. An initial report from E! News suggested the actor had been arrested for walking around intoxicated in San Diego. Later, Teller took to Twitter to give his side of the story. "Went down to SD to see my buddy before he deployed," the actor tweeted. "I wasn’t arrested I was detained bc there was no evidence to charge me with a crime."
He posted a follow-up tweet, stating, "Don’t believe everything you read, especially from a third party entertainment news source trying to get clicks. Appreciate the concern." Regardless of what actually transpired that evening, the bad press certainly didn’t help with his image. While we won’t know how much the incident affected his ability to land work (if at all), it appeared from the outside to be just one more bad decision on his part.
He also recently married his long-time girlfriend
Of course, the real reason Teller may have kept a lower profile in recent years is due to the fact he’s too busy enjoying life with his wife, model Keleigh Sperry. The two have been together since 2013; they got engaged in 2017 and then tied the knot roughly two years later on September 1, 2019. Teller seems to be enjoying the married life, if a recent interview with Men’s Health is anything to go by. "Once you get married and you make that ultimate commitment, life is just a lot less stressful," he enthused to the magazine. "You just know that person is always going to be there."
While he may have enjoyed the downtime, don’t expect him to go away any time soon. It seems he isn’t sweating the gap on his filmography, as he goes on to say, "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." In addition to having Top Gun: Maverick on the horizon, he’s also attached to various other films, including Escape From Spiderhead, Flag Day, and The Fence.
After a hectic few years, maybe some downtime is precisely what the star needed. When movie theaters re-open, expect to see plenty of Teller in the coming years.