In the current landscape where damn near every movie is a franchise, or wants to be, and actors sign on for multiple movies at a time, you can’t just turn around and badmouth your productions because you’re going to have to work with all of these same people and institutions again before long. That shit will come back to haunt you. Miles Teller, however, is throwing caution to the wind, and recently told the world how he felt about working on Neil Burger’s adaptation of Veronica Roth’s young adult novel Divergent. Here’s a hint, it wasn’t good.
Divergent may have delighted fans of Roth’s best-selling novels (we were not particularly taken with the film) and earned $288 million dollars, which is far from Hunger Games money, but it’s nothing to shake a stick at. The film has many supporters, but Teller, an emerging star with a number of significant roles (both prestige and profile wise) on the horizon, is apparently not one of them.
Critics were none too kind to Divergent, it’s full of flat clichés, and the set up is just frustratingly dumb, and it got torn apart. And apparently Teller has a similar feeling. Talking to W Magazine about his upcoming indie feature Whiplash, about a young jazz drumming prodigy, he said:
When I first read Whiplash, I was feeling dead inside. I didn’t have an interesting part (in Divergent), and I’d taken the film for business reasons: It was the first movie I’d done that was going to have an international audience. I called my agent and said, ‘This sucks.’ He told me about Whiplash.
Those are pretty harsh words. Not every actor is super proud of all of their early work (hell, George Clooney is in Return of the Killer Tomatoes before hitting it big with ER), but saying it made you feel dead inside is like damn. And it would also probably behoove you to keep your mouth shut on such matters until the franchise you’re contractually obligated to return to has wrapped up. I haven’t read the books, but from what I understand, Teller’s Peter character has a bigger role moving forward. The sequel, Insurgent, opens in March of 2015, and there are two more movies after that.
Still, you can’t really fault him for taking the role. He’s a young actor, trying to make a name for himself, and this part in a potentially huge franchise comes along, there aren’t many people trying to break into Hollywood who would turn that down. YA adaptations are hit and miss, but when they hit, they hit hard.
When viewed like that, Teller’s tweet, that followed shortly after this story started making the rounds, makes a great deal of sense. You have to expect some damage control.
I've never done a movie for "business" reasons. I'm proud to be a part of Divergent franchise and love all of Peter's Princesses
— Miles Teller (@Miles_Teller) September 24, 2014
Teller is obviously not opposed to participating in big tentpole franchises, as he’ll appear as Reed Richards in 2015’s Josh Trank-directed Fantastic Four (hopefully that experience worked out better for him), but he’s also won significant acclaim for smaller movies like Whiplash and The Spectacular Now. Given these two sides of his career, it will be interesting to see how his path develops from this point on.