Is Miles Teller Wrong for Speaking His Mind?


Miles Teller (Project X, 21 & Over, The Spectacular Now, and most recently Divergent) was all over the internet in the news yesterday for comments he made to The Hollywood Reporter regarding his experience shooting Divergent.  Discussion of his new indie film, Whiplash, or plans for a musical with Emma Watson weren’t what were making headlines.  Instead, he was ridiculed for making the following comments:

“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.”

Perhaps it was an attempt to promote Whiplash, which was praised by critics earlier this year at Sundance and will be seeing a limited release in theaters next month.  However, it didn’t go without some consequences.

The 27-year-old actor was praised for his work with Shailene Woodley in last year’s indie coming-of-ager The Spectacular Now.  Teller reappeared on screen with Woodley back in March in Divergent, the first of four films based on Veronica Roth’s series of YA Hunger Games-esque dystopian novels.  With plans to appear in a reboot of Marvel’s The Fantastic Four next year, Teller is on his way to stardom.  However, with comments like the ones he made to THR, he might have some problems along the way.

Unlike The Hunger Games, Divergent wasn’t as well received by critics.  You can generally expect, however, for the actors who are still currently involved in the franchise to keep quiet about their distaste for it (see Twilight franchise).

Like other actors before him, Teller has been in hot water for speaking out against a project he’s been involved in.  Katherine Heigl withdrew her nomination for an Emmy because she felt the material given to her didn’t warrant enough to receive that award.  She was soon after written out of Grey’s Anatomy and is still nearly universally hated for what she said.  Megan Fox spoke out against the Transformers franchise and Michael Bay, later to be absent from the third installment of the series.

So is Teller headed for the chopper?  Is there going to be someone to replace him in the role of jerk Peter in future Divergent installments?  Well, soon after his comments went viral yesterday, the actor released somewhat of an apology via Twitter:

Rather than apologizing for his comments, Teller seemed to state the complete opposite of them.  If he’s never done a film for “business reasons,” then why did he tell THR that’s why he signed on for Divergent?  It seems like a quick fix to make the studio happy and to prevent some future conflict.  I say for someone who will most likely appear in three more Divergent movies, it’s probably good for Teller to issue an apology, even if it doesn’t seem genuine.  If Teller were a prominent actor in a franchise that I deeply cared about, however, I probably would be upset with him.

For someone who’s paid an immense amount of money to act in a film, promote it, and be a nice guy about it, Teller doesn’t seem to be doing a great job.  If a prominent Harry Potter actor were to come out with these comments, I probably wouldn’t be too happy with them.  I can see where the backlash is coming from.  No one likes someone talking bad about them or things associated with them to other people.

I’ve seen several comments about Teller’s smugness.  To be fair, I feel like most of this comes from the type of characters he’s known to play: usually assholes, or egoheads, or buffoons.  Some of it, though, seems genuine.  Some people who have met the actor in real life have claimed he has a bad attitude.  I can’t necessarily disagree considering I’ve never met him.

All that being said, does Teller still have the right to make these comments?  You bet.  I don’t necessarily blame him for saying them either after watching Divergent myself.  He never exactly went into a lot of detail regarding the experience.  He simply stated it wasn’t enjoyable.  People seem to have problems with celebrities speaking their minds.  I’d like to point out that they’re people too, and they have opinions.  Teller, while “smug,” or “a jerk,” or what ever, is still a person who has thoughts and opinions.  Is it right for critics and audiences to state their negative opinions, yet somehow wrong for Teller to do so?

I think when people have a major issue with an actor saying anything slightly negative about something they’ve been involved in, it becomes more of an issue with our society.  People want them to shut up.  To keep to themselves.  Granted, free speech has consequences, but it’s there for a reason.  I, for one, while not exactly understanding of his half-hearted Twitter “apology” and somewhat empathetic of Divergent fans who might be upset by this, stand by Teller and his right to free speech.


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