Miles Teller Just Realized What Happens to His Character at the End of the ‘Divergent’ Series
It’s been a good year for Miles Teller. He was the star of an Oscar-winning film (Whiplash), wrapped production as the lead role in a major superhero film (Fantastic Four) and returns to theaters this week in Insurgent, the next installment in the highly successful Divergent franchise. It would be easy for the 28-year-old Teller (or, anyone really) to let this newfound success go to his head and to start sipping a little too much of his own Kool-Aid. But, Teller is in no rush to be a superstar.
I met up with Teller in Austin where he was passing through on an Insurgent promotional stop. I was eager to see which Teller would show up. The formalwear of the Oscar season was long gone and Teller was dressed bro casual in blue tank top, showing off both his impressive physique and the deep scars from a 2007 car crash that nearly killed him. The contrast between the two recalls the strength and weakness Teller brings to his roles; he’s equal parts vulnerable, but looks like he could (and would) kick your ass if need be.
If Teller is getting high on his own supply, he certainly doesn’t show it. Long after our allotted time is over, we spent a good 10 minutes talking about football, growing up in New Jersey and other minutiae far too boring to include here. Outside, there were lots of people waiting for him, wanting pictures or autographs or a handshake. Out there he was famous. Inside, he was just a regular guy debating the Eagles chances to win the Super Bowl. He was in no rush to leave.
After your comments about the original Divergent, what was the aftermath like? Who did you immediately call or e-mail to both clarify and apologize for what people were reading?
It would have been different if I had a bad reputation internally. If I showed up late to work or didn’t know my lines. Or if I wasn’t just purely excited to be on set and make a movie. I didn’t know how fast it would spread. But, people called me and were like, “You gotta say something.” I was like, just give me the e-mails of the producers and the people at the studio because that’s what I care about. I care about my reputation with the people I work with. Beyond that, once something takes off and goes out there, you’re not getting the toothpaste back in the tube. It was over pretty quickly though.
As your fame increases, do you find it more and more difficult to be online or read things about yourself?
Pssh. I don’t know if you want to open Pandora’s Box. It’s fine. I was not going on the internet to find out what people were saying about me when I was starting out, so it’s no different really. Ego is a dangerous thing. It’s something you can really get full of if you don’t stay grounded.
But, how do you do that? It would be very easy for an actor in your position to believe the hype.
Things are changing from the outside, but in my day-to-day life everything is still the same. My family doesn’t treat me any differently and I have the same buddies and stuff. I’m a pretty simple person in terms of what I do. I hang with the same people. I Google myself. Read the IMDB comments. Post messages like “Miles is so hot and his face just keeps getting better and better...”
Most people go, “I’m gonna work here, 9-to-5, Monday-to-Friday for 40 years and then I’m going to retire.” At least I know for the next couple of years — whether it’s Fantastic Four or Divergent — I get to work on a job that I enjoy doing.
Speaking of how people react to you, how do the Divergent fans react to you. Your character, Peter, isn’t always the nicest guy.
Whatever you want to engage yourself in. If I was going online and reading comments, I’m sure I’d feel a lot of that. But, when you live in L.A. or New York, no one cares that much. You can do your thing and I’m so glad people don’t see me as my characters when I go out. That’s nice.
So, after Whiplash, you don’t have people shouting “Are you rushing or dragging?” at you on the street?
What is cool with stuff like that, I was just filming in Romania, doing this movie with Todd Phillips and Jonah Hill. I had a couple of college age kids come up to me saying, “Whiplash! Whiplash!” That’s cool because you don’t think a small, independent movie travels all the way over there. It’s nice. I’ve always had a pretty comfortable relationship with my fans. I’m out there and I’ll take pictures and do that whole thing. It hasn’t been too chaotic. I did a movie with Zac Efron and working with that kid, I got to see fandom at a different level. Some movies you do just really blow up for a rabid fanbase. Teenage girls can be terrifying in large numbers. Teenage guys I can handle, but teenage girls...
Well, you’re going from one passionate fanbase to the next, with Fantastic Four this summer.
(Laughs) Yeah, I’m sure I’ll get a little more of that...whatever. I mean, you’re taking a character people grew up with and you’re personifying it. You’re putting a human being to this idea that they’ve had in their head for so long. We’re taking these characters and making them a little younger and we’re trying to humanize them. What I can say is that we’re taking a strong stance on these characters. We’re not wavering. We’re not putting half an idea up. Josh Trank, his gift as a director, is that he has a very strong tone. When you see a Josh Trank film, you can recognize that. He absolutely has his own style. There’s a lot of directors, you can say their name, but you wouldn’t really know what their style is. Josh has that, he’s a smart guy and we all took this world very seriously. And, Simon Kinberg is one of the best writers for this. He opens up the world in a way that people can engage in. What he did with X-Men: First Class and being able to re-energize that franchise, was really well done.
Just yesterday, they released some new images and your costumes are quite...different.
The suit’s power is that it’s highly uncomfortable (laughs). That’s what it is. It creates a discomfort for Reed every day, but he has to wear it every day because of his body. The Human Torch, he’s on fire, he needs something to help with that. Mr. Fantastic he’s stretching, he’s doing that whole thing so you’ve got to keep that at bay. You can’t be stretching all the time. These are the beta versions of these costumes. Which is great. We’re doing a more real version of these guys.
Will there ever be a time in this movie where we see the more traditional costume?
I think it would be very odd if the Fantastic Four never donned the traditional Fantastic Four costume. There is some servicing there. You feel like you have to give the fans a part of that. That’s what it’s all about. You gotta have fun with it. The Thing should say, “It’s clobberin’ time!”
They’re already talking about Fantastic Four 2 and then there’s still Allegiant coming up — it must be weird to have years of your life already planned out for you.
But, compared to most people and most people go, “I’m gonna work here, 9-to-5, Monday-to-Friday for 40 years and then I’m going to retire.” At least I know for the next summer and the next couple of years, I get to work on — whether it’s part of the Fantastic Four or Divergent franchise — a job that I enjoy doing.
Well, it’s great to have you back for Insurgent because your character brings a lot of needed —
I was going to say sexiness.
Well, there is a roguish charm to Peter. The film, otherwise, can be a little serious, but you bring a little fun to proceedings. You want to see more of him.
That’s what I’m saying! I’m waiting for Peter’s spinoff. He’s got a really nice arc. His whole trajectory is really interesting. The way he starts out in Divergent and the way he ends up in Allegiant, he really comes full circle.
[SPOILERS FOR ALLEGIANT AHEAD]
I read the epilogue for Allegiant and was surprised as to the fate of your character.
That he moves to Milwaukee and gets a desk job working in an office.
A desk job in Milkwaukee?
Yeah. That’s what it says in the epilogue.
Wow. I guess I should’ve read the epilogue. (Laughs) Well, with all due respect, I am Peter now and I don’t want to work at a desk. In Milkwaukee. I’ll work in a desk in Philadelphia. Maybe 100 years in the future they have a championship at that point.