Miles Teller Aims To Get It Right With ‘Thank You For Your Service’

Thank You For Your Service
Miles Teller (Bleed for This, upcoming Only The Brave) stars in Thank You For Your Service as Adam Schumann, a returning soldier from Iraq who, along with his fellow colleagues, finds it difficult readjusting to civilian life. The piece is adapted from Pulitzer Prize winning author David Finkel’s book of the same name, and in the audio below Teller explains why “accuracy” and “authenticity” were integral to Thank You For Your Service.

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‘Whiplash’ Achieves New York Visions With Downtown L.A. Production

One of Whiplash’s strengths rests in the sheer physicality of the performance of actors Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons. The story of a highly ambitious young drummer (Teller) who takes his sanity to the limits while learning from an abusive jazz instructor (J.K. Simmons), Whiplash should be a favorite come awards season time, and the feature also marks the arrival of promising filmmaker Damien Chazelle.

Whiplash maintains its fever pitch throughout its 106 minutes, and the final chapter, which features a showdown between the drummer and his mentor, is a sight to behold. “We don’t think of instruments as physical,” said Chazelle, whose story was inspired by his own experience as part of a high school jazz orchestra. “We think of dance as physical. We think of sports as physical. (With) music, we don’t. But trumpeters screw their lips up, violinists screw their backs up, and drummers screw their hands up.”

Although Terence Fletcher (Simmons) is a teacher who crosses the line with his students, there is a perverse method to his madness. Certain musicians thrive under pressure and may actually flourish under abusive tactics, and it’s an issue that Chazelle addresses in the narrative:

“I had teacher like (Terence Fletcher) and it made me a better drummer. But as a humanist I can’t condone what he does – and I wanted to make the character as monstrous as possible so that it’s hard to condone what he does. It’s undeniable that it’s a big part of jazz and music history – this kind of streak of tyranny leading to great musicianship.”

J.K. Simmons, Damien Chazelle, Miles Teller (Sony Pictures Classics, CR: Daniel McFadden)
J.K. Simmons, Damien Chazelle, Miles Teller (Sony Pictures Classics, CR: Daniel McFadden)

Whiplash captures the pulse and rhythm of New York, but most of the production was shot in downtown Los Angeles. During the press conference, Chazelle explains why, even with tax credits available in the Big Apple, he shot Whiplash in the City of Angels.

Whiplash is now playing in New York and Los Angeles.

Miles Teller’s Drum Love Started Years Before ‘Whiplash’

Opening October 10 in New York and Los Angeles, Whiplash centers on Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller in a breakout role), a driven jazz drummer who risks it all to learn from revered instructor Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons). Fletcher’s emotionally and physically abusive methods push Andrew to the brink at the prestigious music conservatory, and their battle of wills serves as the story’s heart and soul.

The picture is inspired by director/writer Damien Chazelle’s own life in the music world. “I asked Damien some technical questions with drumming because he is a better jazz drummer than I am,” said Teller at the Whiplash press conference. “I was using him for that as much as I could, but for the character, it was all there on the page. It was very clear what Andrew Neyman was all about. For Andrew, he wants to be the greatest drummer of all time and that’s really his sole kind of desire.”

Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons - Whiplash (Sony Pictures Classics, CR: Daniel McFadden)
Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons – Whiplash (Sony Pictures Classics, CR: Daniel McFadden)

Miles Teller’s extensive music background started on the piano at just six years old. Eventually he would move on to drums, and those well honed skills helped ease Whiplash’s seemingly steep learning curve.

Click on the media bar below to hear Miles Teller talk about his music background (J.K. Simmons is also heard on the clip):


Blu-Ray Today: “That Awkward Moment” Propelled By Likable Leads

That Awkward Moment (94 minutes, R) comes out today on Blu-ray and DVD, and this romantic comedy takes a slight twist on the genre, as the relationships are mainly seen through the eyes of three testosterone driven buddies (Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan, Miles Teller).

Jason (Efron) is the charming alpha male of the bunch, preferring one night stands (which includes Californication’s Addison Timlin) over real relationships. Daniel (Teller) uses self deprecating humor and his platonic friend Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis) to score at his local hangout, and Mikey (Jordan) is the most sensitive of the bunch. Distraught over his wife’s (Jessica Lucas) infidelity, Mikey turns to his friends for a bit of comfort, and the pair do their best to get their pal back on the dating track.

The film’s moniker relates to that moment when someone attempts to take a purely sexual relationship to a more sublime and committed relationship. Although the buddies come off as womanizers, each of them have their hearts and minds focused on a different girl. Imogen Poots co-stars as Jason’s new girlfriend, who seems way too good to be true (at least in Daniel’s eyes).

That Awkward Moment’s narrative is essentially broken down into three separate storylines, as each guy tries to work through their various love problems. Teller and Davis have a natural ease and chemistry with one another, and their back and forth banter are the film’s highlight. There’s also a great Morris Chestnut (the actor from The Call and Boyz n the Hood) joke early in the film that’s pretty hilarious.

Tom Gormican, producer of the 2013 feature Movie 43, makes his directing debut, and Efron also executive produced the project. The film, budgeted at $8 million, made a respectable, and one would assume profitable, $40 million worldwide.

Blu-ray exclusive material includes a gag reel as well as the featurette Moment of Truth: Behind the Scenes, which takes a closer look at Tom Gormican’s personal connection to the storyline (he also penned That Awkward Moment). Zac Efron, Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Imogen Poots, Mackenzie Davis, and producer Kevin Turen are interviewed in the featurette.

DVD and Blu-ray owners will also be treated to the segment Threesome: More Awkward Moments, as Efron, Teller, and Jordan sit down and have an impromptu conversation about relationships and the making of the movie. A short feature, which spotlights the the main characters of the film, is also featured on the disc.