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Q&A: 'The Spectacular Now' star Miles Teller

August 06, 2013|Matt Pais, @mattpais | RedEye movie critic

While filming the highly anticipated big-screen adaptation of "Divergent" in Chicago, Miles Teller also attended two Rolling Stones shows, a Hawks playoff game, a Bulls playoff game and two Cubs games.

In the excellent coming-of-age film "The Spectacular Now," opening Friday, Sutter (Teller) likewise wants to make the most of his time. Preaching "Live in the now," he's a think-later high school senior who charms shy, sweet Aimee ("Divergent" co-star Shailene Woodley), whose perception of what Sutter can give her may cloud her view of what he can't. At Sundance, the actors deservedly won a Special Jury Award for their performances.

By phone from L.A., the 26-year-old actor ("21 and Over," "Rabbit Hole") talked about nixing dialogue, putting his best moves into the movie's sex scene and whether he feels like an adult.

You're an enemy to Shailene in "Divergent" and fall in love with her in "The Spectacular Now." Which is easier and which is more fun: to love her or give her crap?

It's easier to fall in love with her, but it's more fun to beat her up.

Why?

Hmm ... Because it's fun! [Laughs] I don't know. It's nice doing some action stuff, I guess would be the answer to that. It's hard to give a good answer to why it's more fun to beat up a woman. But in that world of "Divergent," the guys beat up the girls. ... We're just looking for the best warriors. I put it into context.

"The Spectacular Now" director James Ponsoldt gave you a lot of freedom with your character. How do you feel like you took advantage of that?

I think the more creative freedom that you have, the more personalized you can make the character. Even the wardrobe woman, the costume designer, she allowed me -- I said, "Hey, there's a couple thrift stores here. Do you mind if I go out and pick out some stuff that I think would be right?"James never made me audition. He just went off a hunch that I could play this character, and I was happy for him to allow me the freedom to do a lot of stuff.

Can you remember something you didn't want to say?

I didn't want to call myself "The Sutter man." And I didn't want to say "fabuloso."

Why not?

Because. You try it! What's your name again?

Matt.

Matt. Call yourself the Matt-meister.

"What's up, this is the Matt-meister, and I'm super-fabuloso." Doesn't work.

[Laughs.] Yeah, see? I tried saying "fabuloso" in just everyday conversation, and every time I would do it people would look at me weird.

It's cool that Shailene was talking about loving the scene of you two having sex in the movie because it's so real --

Well, look who she's working with. If I was Shailene, I would love having sex with me too.

What's it like to try to be awkward on purpose in that situation?

You mean for her?

No, for you.

You thought I was awkward during my sex scene? Those are my best moves, Matt.

I thought you performed admirably, but I think part of the reason she said she liked it was it's such a natural, human thing.

It is. When you're in a 15-year-old's bedroom and her character's just this nice, cute, kind of shy girl -- not overly shy or anything -- but it just all kind of fell into place. I feel like the characters, we really wanted to tell their story. At that moment, we are right there.

Shailene has said Sutter is a composite of her high school relationships. Did you date someone like Aimee?

Yeah, I did. I dated all over the place. I remember I dated a girl who was in drama with me. She was the lead singer of my rock band. She had this Evanescence voice. That was a weird choice; my buddies didn't really understand that. And then I dated a cheerleader for a little bit. But really Aimee reminds me of this girl that I dated my sophomore year of college.

Their relationship has an interesting beginning, with her finding you passed out on a lawn. What's the strangest story you've heard about people getting together in real life?

The girlfriend that reminded me of Shailene's character, I met her at nickel beer night. And I remember her carrying a stack of cups `cause she was stacking all the beer she had drank and there's a good amount of `em. She came up to me, she said, "Hey, can you hold these while I go pee in a parking lot?" So I held her cups, and by the time she came back I was still holding them and we started talking and I got her phone number and we ended up dating for like a year and a half.

That’s a really good story of how you meet someone.

Yeah! We talked about jazz band for a while. I played saxophone, and she played the flute.

I played drums. Next time you see her we’ll all put on a show.

Whoa, watch it, Matt!

I wasn’t implying that you’re still in touch with your ex-girlfriend.

[Laughs] No, I’m really not. It’s all good.

Sutter says he doesn't see what's so great about being an adult. How do you think people know when they're supposed to be an adult and have gotten to that point?

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