I have to admit, I am not an expert on the sport of boxing, but Miles Teller seems too skinny to be the type of guy you would see hanging out at muscle beach. But he was exactly that guy, because that is how he built his physique to play former boxing champ, Vinny Paz in the new film, Bleed For This; the story of Vinny “The Pazmanian Devil” Pazienza, a pro boxer who wins two world championship titles and gets in a near-fatal car accident that leaves him with a broken neck.
Miles shares his training regimen and what cheat foods he craved while in training. Also, Miles discusses his own near death car accident experience.
Q: How did you prepare for the role?
When I got the call that I got the part, I felt like I won something even though I hadn’t. I was excited and the “oh shit” factor settled in pretty quick. I got on the scale and was 188 pounds with 19% body fat. I just knew that for me, I’ve got buddies who work out twice a week and eat, not well, and they’re just jacked. A lot of how you look is genetic, so I knew I was going to have to work extremely hard. I knew that boxing training is going to be the toughest training I’ve ever done so far.
It’s unparalleled in sports. They can’t do anything else, they just got to fight. It was an 8 month process. I had to film those two movies in 8 months, but it was 8 months of me working out and dieting. By the time I got to LA I had a fight camp of my own, it was 4 hours boxing, 2 hours of weights. Sometimes I’d do an hour and a half of accent dialect. I had to go to physical therapy through all of it because I was hurting. It was by far the most prep I had to do for a character.
Q: Did you crave anything while the diet for the training?
You start to crave certain things. I liked salads, but I started really craving greens. (I was) just thinking about food as fuel; that kind of stuff. It wasn’t stuff I could have. Even those little things like Werther’s suckers (or) certain things I would want. I would go, “Nope it’s got sugar in it.” I was really diligent about it, because I walked into the room not as that guy.
Q: I understand that you also were in a pretty bad car accident, can you take about that experience?
I could understand the recovery. I was getting laser treatments and I had casting directors telling me it didn’t make sense for me to have scars. I got told no a bunch. John (Cameron) Mitchell (director of Rabbit Hole) casted me in Rabbit Hole but just in terms of introspective and that I should’ve died in a car accident and didn’t. Then two of my best friends died in a car accident less than a year later.
I went through a lot of moments of confusion, despair and grief; then some kind of clarity. I think you learn a lot about yourself. That guy Vinny, the man who he was. In real life Vinny broke his neck, and five days later tried to bench press. We didn’t think that was believable so Ben (Younger, director) makes it seem like it was a month later time-wise. To me that just speaks on his sense of self. Everyone tells me no. That’s just such an inspiring story.
Q: What was it like working with Aaron (Eckhart, plays Kevin Rooney. Vinny’s trainer) and share your take on the relationship between Vinny and Rooney in the movie?
Yeah, my first movie was with Aaron. I have some relationship with him. In Rabbit Hole most of the actors were kind of –that’s not a very happy story- in character. We all shared an agent, so I’ve seen Aaron around. So there was a bit of a comfort level there. In acting it’s very important. In certain movies it takes a little while to get used to them. When you put your hand on them, it’s not the first time you’ve done that. It’s just that there’s a trust there, and those walls are taken down. For this the fighter trainer relationship is sacred. Knowing specifically what Rooney meant to Vinny, Kevin moved into his house at some point in their career. Kevin has dementia now.
His son told us he will still talk about Vinny and Tyson (Mike, boxer). That guy is your father figure; he’s your nutritionist, your trainer. The closest person you have in your life is your trainer, because you’re with them all the time. Kevin and Vinny meet at such an interesting place. Kevin was on his way out, his reputation was in the gutter, and he had so much pride that was stripped away from them. Same thing with Vinny, so by the time they come back together, they really need this thing. They both need something from the other guy. They need to do it together. If Vinny lost the fight he probably would been retired. He would have had a hard time getting a fight.
Q: Martin Scorsese (Executive producer for the film) was on the set and did you speak with him?
I kind of did. It was some event, and this was 8 months when I just got cast and I saw Martin. He was talking to me (Scorsese impression), “So when do you start?” and all these things. He was talking to me like I was the lead actor in his film. Just his name got us the financing, (which) means everything to be invested. The story was great, and he typed a letter to me saying he knew how much this part would require, that he knew that I was the right guy for it, and that it was going to be a great challenge. I had that framed in my house. It was hand-typed. That was pretty special. For the boxing movies, my job was to just play Vinny. I know for the producers you have the script, and that you have the ghosts of all these boxing movies that are hanging around. You know people are going to compare them. I like boxing movies, and if you were to act me what parts I was going to play, boxer was at the top of the list.
Bleed for This is currently playing on theaters nationwide.
Interview by: Izumi Hasegawa- @HNW_Izumi
Edited by: Jody Taylor – @RealJodyTaylor
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