Actor Miles Teller more than holds his own in his first feature film, Rabbit Hole, director John Cameron Mitchell’s quietly horrific holiday offering. Based on the Pulitzer Prize–winning play by David Lindsay-Abaire, the film is a wrenching drama about a couple’s need for closure following the death of their child. The 23-year-old Teller plays Jason, a high-school student who accidentally runs over and kills the 4-year-old son of Becca and Howie Corbett (Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart). As the increasingly estranged couple struggles with grief, Jason and Becca develop a curious friendship that she hides from her husband. “I heard John say that Nicole’s character is very similar to Hedwig,” Teller says, referring to the protagonist of Mitchell’s cinematic directorial debut, the transsexual rock fantasy Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001). “Once you strip [the characters] down, they’re both about longing for connection at a time when you feel completely isolated.” Teller won the part in Rabbit Hole a month before graduating from NYU, where he was at the Tisch School of the Arts studying drama. Since then he’s landed two other roles: a part in the Todd Phillips–produced comedy Project X; and another one as Willard, the yokel with two left feet, in Hustle & Flow–director Craig Brewer’s forthcoming remake of Footloose. Oddly enough, Teller had already played Willard in a high school production of Footloose, which he calls his first “real” play. But that was back when he thought his professional life would revolve around sports, instead of acting. “I wanted to go to Syracuse [University], go into broadcasting, and hopefully make it to SportsCenter,” says the Citrus County, Florida, native, who also played baseball year-round as a teen and is currently in the market for a game. “I don’t know if there’s an actors’ slow-pitch softball league I could join,” he says. “My agency has a team, but they say it would be a conflict of interest for the people they rep to play because I could hit a pop-up and they’d have to drop it on purpose.”
Photo: Miles Teller in New York, October 2010. Jacket: Burberry Prorsum. T-shirt: Calvin Klein Underwear. Styling: Lester Garcia/Total Management. Hair: Andre Gunn/The Wall Group.