By Mickey Rapkin
Having quickly established himself as one of Young Hollywood’s most versatile players, it’s fitting that 27-year-old Miles Teller is starring as Mr. Fantastic in the upcoming Fantastic Fourreboot. After his devastating portrayal of the teenage driver who accidentally kills Nicole Kidman’s son in Rabbit Hole, Teller transformed into a neo–John Cusack—his broken heart bleeding for Shailene Woodley—in 2013’s The Spectacular Now. In Whiplash, which won the top two prizes at Sundance and opens wide next month, he’s a wunderkind jazz drummer with social issues. There seems to be nothing this kid can’t do. That includes maintaining a long-distance relationship with model Keleigh Sperry. Teller, who grew up in backwoods Florida (where kids “walked around in cowboy hats and Wranglers and cleaned up cow shit for agriculture class”), caught up with ELLE from the set of The Fantastic Four, moments after accidentally splitting open his hand. That he was waiting for a doctor to come stitch him up could explain the near-delirious state he was in as he told us about the time he tried Viagra. Fantastic, indeed.
You started playing drums at age 15. Was that to impress girls?
I played music my whole life—piano, saxophone. It wasn’t very cool, but yeah, sax kind of sounds like sex, so there’s allure there.
You once played in a youth-group rock band at church. Did you have groupies?
It was probably 98 percent senior citizens—because it’s Florida. I went kind of as a favor, but then I enjoyed it. [Laughs] Rocking out for Christ.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received about women?
My dad always told me, “One in the hand is worth two in the bush.” That could be taken the wrong way.
Thanks for clarifying that.
It doesn’t only apply to women. It means hold on to your life, because it’s not worth losing something that you have. When things go bad, you don’t run away.
Were you nervous about bringing your girlfriend home to meet your parents?
I brought her to meet my grandparents. My grandma tweets my girlfriend.
Your grandmother tweets? About what?
About who knows what. My grandparents have been married for 50 years.
What’s their secret? Don’t say “Viagra.”
Respect the person you’re with. My philosophy is, if I’m not happier when I’m with you, then there’s no reason for me to be with you. I’m happy on my own.
While we’re on the subject, have you ever tried Viagra?
Uh, yeah. I’ve taken it before. You know, curiosity killed the cat. It’s a big-ass pill. My buddy in Vegas gave me one. He was like, “Bro, break it in half and take it two hours before you’re ready.” When people are very specific on the instructions, that makes me kind of wary. But he was right.
Is sex better with a blue pill?
I don’t know. It’s just one of those things. If you get really hammered, it’ll still, you know, work.
Okay. You went to Vegas for your twenty-seventh birthday.
I’ve been to Vegas for my last couple of birthdays….
Why? Are you into strip clubs?
The few times me and my buddies went to the strip clubs, it’s because whatever happened at the night club wasn’t enough. There’s this one called Sapphire, which feels like WrestleMania. There’s sparkling lights, and they walk down two flights of stairs, and they’re like, “And stepping into the ring is Camaro!” I like Vegas. I like a good pool party. I’m from Florida. I love being out in the sun with my friends and drinking.
Are you into that Vegas aesthetic? Blond hair and fake breasts?
No, no. But for that environment it’s okay. ‘Cause that is Vegas. It gives you something to look at.
Please set the record straight: Did you date Shailene Woodley?
I’ve never dated Shailene. She would probably be repulsed by the thought. She saw me eat a Honey Bun two years ago.
You spent some time with Zac Efron onThat Awkward Moment. What are his female fans like?
We were doing this Q&A up in San Francisco, and this one girl stands up and says, “I’m 26 years old. My husband said it was okay if I give you a hug. Can I just touch you?” Even these women that have husbands are freaking out if they can touch Zac.
Did it make you wish for that level of fame?
Hell, no! No offense to that, but it’s a different type of fandom. We’d be in our trailers, and we would just hear these women banging on his door.
You were in a bad car accident in college. Were you worried you’d never have sex again?
No. When I woke up, I was just like, “Oh, fuck. My mom is going to be so pissed.”
The scars work for you.
It works now. This is after a bunch of laser surgeries. I like them. They give me a little bit of edge.
Are you vain?
Honestly, when I look in the mirror now, I don’t even see them. I used to be very vain about my thumbs. I have fat thumbs. If there’s a movie where you see me on the phone, it’s not my hands.
You have a hand double? Is that necessary?
Well, wait until you see this little hammer-thumb on a 40-foot screen with a chewed nail. You’re going to be like, “Oh, God.”
Were you ever that guy who put on jazz music to impress a woman?
The only time I put jazz on was when I was preparing for Whiplash. I don’t know if my girlfriend thought it was sexy or not. I was just trying to prepare for the role.
Do you and your girlfriend Skype when you’re away? Does that make things easier or harder?
[Laughs] There’s this thing you can do where you can attach a Fleshlight to an iPad…
Don’t make me explain to ELLE readers what a Fleshlight is.
Spelled like it sounds! [Laughs] We talk. And yeah, we’ll FaceTime and she’ll come down and visit me on set. There’s times that a text is appropriate. Other times you need to talk on the phone. The problem with people texting all the time is that if you’re texting somebody everything you’re doing throughout the day, there’s no catch up. It removes the recap. I think that’s important.
Whiplash is also a movie about regret. Do you have any regrets?
There was a point after a relationship was over that I did not respect the girl’s feelings as much as I should have. It was from a lack of maturity.
I don’t understand. Did you start dating someone else very soon after?
Along those lines. Facebook is a terrible thing sometimes.
There’s this one person who follows me named “Miles Teller Updates.” And she updates people on everything. It’s like, “Miles was at this bar and he had…” It’s just some random person. I don’t know, it could be a guy. It’s probably a 40-year-old dude. I’ve had articles come out about me. Miles Teller was out at this bar and he was hitting on the bartenders and he was so drunk when people tried to tell him to calm down he shoved them aside and said “I’m fine!” Stupid shit like that. It’s this never-ending wormhole of people writing stuff to get hits.
Did you hit on that bartender?
No! Ask anybody. I can sit there and drink with you until the cows come home but my personality doesn’t change. I’m not sloppy.
OK. Is there anything you’d do differently about your first time with a woman?
Not get her pregnant? [Beat] I’m just kidding! I don’t know. Be better? Last longer?
Was it somebody you cared about?
It wasn’t a complete random thing. We had known each other.
What do you think about Tinder? Do you feel like you missed out?
I like human interaction. Tinder puts all of these girls in front of you, so you don’t have to go to a bar and you don’t have to have the balls to ask a girl for her number. Tinder expedites everything. Here’s four pictures. If you want ‘em, swipe to the right. Oh she said yes, too. Now you guys are texting each other and you could be hanging out within an hour. Not everyone’s looking for a relationship all the time. And that’s fine. But it’s not something that I’m like, “Oh god, they’re having so much fun.”