Miles Teller bulks up and goes for broke in ‘Bleed For This’

Down­ing­town na­tive ‘in­spired by ev­ery­day peo­ple’

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - LIVING - By Amy Longs­dorf For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

Miles Teller cred­its his hard­hit­ting per­for­mance as badass boxer Vinny Paz in “Bleed For This” to his up­bring­ing in Penn­syl­va­nia and New Jersey.

Born in Down­ing­town, and partly raised there as well as Cape May, N.J., the ac­tor says he un­der­stood the Rhode Is­lan­drea­red Paz’s never-say-die at­ti­tude thanks to the folks he knew while liv­ing in the North­east.

“I was born in PA and all of my dad’s fam­ily is from WilkesBarre,” says Teller. “And I grew up in South Jersey for awhile. My mom’s from South Jersey, which is ba­si­cally like Philly East.

“The North­east has a very spe­cific kind of en­ergy and even though Rhode Is­land is to­tally dif­fer­ent from PA and New Jersey, I’ve just been around guys [like Vinny] my en­tire life. And I think that made him very re­lat­able to me.”

As his per­for­mance in “Whiplash” is proof, Teller has played de­ter­mined char­ac­ters be­fore. But World Cham­pion boxer Vinny Paz ranks as one of the strongest­willed ath­letes in sports his­tory.

Fol­low­ing a hor­rific car ac­ci­dent in which his spine was nearly sev­ered, Paz was told he needed to have his neck fused to guar­an­tee he’d be able to walk again.

In­stead, the grap­pler re­fused treat­ment and be­gan train­ing to go back into the ring. Co-star­ring in the biopic are Aaron Eck­hart, Ciarin Hinds and Katey Sa­gal.

For Teller, the big­gest chal­lenge was shap­ing his physique to look like that of a world-class fighter.

“The phys­i­cal­ity was very tough, to get that look, just to be able to have the con­di­tion­ing to be able to shoot a box­ing fight,” says the ac­tor.

Teller be­gan los­ing weight eight months be­fore the pro­duc­tion be­gan. Thanks to “eat­ing like a rab­bit,” as the ac­tor says, and con­stant work­ing out, he dropped 20 pounds and got him­self down to six per­cent body fat.

“Even when I was on set [for other movies], if I had any time in be­tween, I was al­ways do­ing some­thing like push-ups or situps,” he re­calls. “It’s funny be­cause I was al­ways anti-[work­ing out] early on in my ca­reer. I was, like, I don’t want to be that guy with a six-pack and a tan who’s

“I’ve been lucky to be put in a nice po­si­tion, as far as act­ing goes, where I’m able to get some good scripts. I’m more than will­ing to give ev­ery­thing to them, and I just think they’re cool sto­ries.” — Miles Teller

PHOTO BY SEACIA PAVAO

Left to right: Ciaran Hinds, Miles Teller and Aaron Eck­hart in “Bleed For This.”

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