Hollywood star Miles Teller took time from his busy schedule to talk to Channel24’s Herman Eloff about his gripping new war film.
Cape Town – Miles Teller ended 2017 with two outstanding films that showed off not only his impressive acting skills but his commitment to the craft as well.
Both were gripping dramas based on true life events - The first, titled Only the Brave, saw Teller play the role of firefighter Brendan McDonough who joins an elite crew of firefighters who fought the Yarnell Hill Fire in June 2013.
In the second film, Thank You for Your Service, the young Hollywood star takes on the part of Sgt. Adam Schumann who tries to readjust to civilian life after returning home from the war in Iraq.
The two films might be worlds apart but share the same themes. Both explore the intricacies of dealing with trauma, serving your country and the importance of a brotherhood.
In fact, during our phone interview the 30-year-old actor even got confused about which film he was promoting. “I’m sorry about that. I’m currently doing press for both films,” he apologised after getting the two mixed up.
Thank You for Your Service takes an open and honest look at American soldiers and how they deal with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after returning home from war. Teller’s character, based on a real-life army sergeant, must overcome several emotional scars as he tries to fit in back home.
“The film explores an important topic and it was definitely intimidating taking on the role. Especially since you know it’s based on a real person. I got to meet Adam and I now consider him a true friend of mine. He’s a complex and selfless person and I really wanted to do justice to the role,” Teller explains.
“It’s definitely intimidating and a lot of added responsibility when taking on a role like this. Adam is extremely brave and I have a lot of respect for him. These men put their lives at risks. They run towards the bullet. It’s humbling.”
Thank You for Your Service is based on the book written by journalist David Finkel about Schumann’s experiences in Iraq and returning home thereafter. The screenplay, written by Jason Hall who also wrote the screenplay for 2014’s Oscar-nominated American Sniper, asks the ultimate question: What now?
After witnessing death daily can soldiers successfully reintegrate into society and what resources are made available for them to do so? The answer will come as a shock – American soldiers, who are treated as true heroes whilst fighting for their country during war, get completely forgotten once they return to home soil.
The systems and protocols in place are so overcrowded, complex and riddled with paperwork that most of these men fall through the cracks. They turn to alcohol, drugs or even suicide to escape the darkness that haunts them whilst the system turns its back on them.
“It is so important to tell this story. Film gives us the unique opportunity to be a fly on the wall and to see the truth through a different perspective. It humanises the war and exposes the true issues that sometimes gets buried behind politics,” Teller added.
For him his role in Thank You for Your Service was one of the most important and challenging to date: “These stories need to be told so that we can truly understand what these men go through”.
To prepare for their roles, Teller and his fellow cast members took on a six-day bootcamp to not only bond but to also get a taste of the physical commitment it takes to be part of the army.
“Brotherhood was such an important part of the film. We had to move together as a unit. The more authentic the relationship between the cast was the better we would be at truly telling the story.
“The bootcamp really assisted in bringing us closer together. When you suffer together as a collective, you really bond in a short time,” he explained.
Teller last year got engaged to girlfriend, Keleigh Sperry whilst on safari in South Africa. He popped the question whilst the couple, who have been dating since 2013, were visiting Madikwe Game Reserve located in North West. When asked about his recent trip to Mzansi, Teller said: “We had an amazing time in South Africa. It was absolutely wonderful and one we won’t forget.”
Thank You for Your Service opens in South African cinemas on Friday, 5 January.
(Photo: Francois Duhamel/Universal Pictures)