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The Truth About How Miles Teller Got His Scars

Miles Teller just has one of those faces. The actor has built an impressive resume over the course of the past decade, starring in both blockbuster action movies and character-driven independent films in equal measure. Audiences at large who might not yet recognize Teller will likely soon be able to do so once the long-awaited sequel to 1986's "Top Gun," "Top Gun: Maverick" finally hits theaters in May of 2022. Teller plays Bradley "Rooster" Bradshaw, the son of Pete "Maverick" Mitchell's (Tom Cruise) former radio intercept officer, best friend, and partner-in-crime Nick "Goose" Bradshaw (Anthony Edwards) from the original film. The resemblance between these two unrelated actors is downright eerie, making Teller's casting a fitting choice.

Teller made his feature film debut in 2010's "Rabbit Hole," in which he starred opposite Nicole Kidman. In the 2011 remake of "Footloose," he took on the role of Willard, the good-natured guy with two left feet, who was played by Chris Penn in its 1984 predecessor. Teller's breakout performance was in the 2013 coming-of-age drama "The Spectacular Now," which won the special jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival (via IMDb) and proved that Teller could hold his own as a leading man for the first time. Some of his other film credits include the Oscar-nominated "Whiplash," "War Dogs," "The Fantastic Four," and the "Divergent" trilogy. Given his wide-ranging success as a performer, it's hard to believe there was once a time when Teller was turned away after auditions because of his facial scars.

Miles Teller survived a car accident

During an interview with movie critic Peter Travers for ABC News' "Popcorn With Peter Travers," Miles Teller revealed that his face was wounded and subsequently scarred during his young adulthood, which then affected his burgeoning acting career. When he was 20 years old and attending college, Teller revealed, he was injured in a serious car accident after his friend lost control of a car while driving the both of them at 80 mph. The car rolled eight times in total and ejected him fifty feet away, according to Teller's account. After being thrown from the vehicle, the actor ended up in such bad shape that his friend thought he might be dead. Fortunately, Teller survived the incident, albeit after sustaining some significant injuries to his face.

Following the accident, Teller underwent multiple painful surgeries to remove the scar tissue resultant from his wounds over the course of roughly four years. As it turns out, he still has some pieces of gravel embedded in his face, which his doctors said would cause even more damage if removed than if left alone.

For a while, Teller's appearance after the car accident stood in the way of his acting ambitions. "When I first started auditioning, people were straight up just like, 'Yeah, Miles is a good actor, [but it] doesn't make sense for this character to have scars,'" he said. "[The scars] used to be really bad."

Soon, however, one director took a chance on Teller when others would not, putting him on a career trajectory he maintains today.

John Cameron Mitchell made Teller's scars a strength

According to Miles Teller in his interview with Peter Travers, "Rabbit Hole" director John Cameron Mitchell didn't just cast him in his debut feature in spite of his facial scars, but at least in part because he saw them as a strength. Teller recounts Mitchell characterizing his scars as adding a new dimension to his character in the film. Beyond even the mystique with which they imbue Teller's character, in "Rabbit Hole" he portrays the driver of a car that killed a young boy in a happenstance accident, so the real-life source of his scars parallel this fictional incident.

Teller would then go on to appear in "The Spectacular Now" and "Whiplash," both of which likewise include pivotal scenes in which Teller's character is involved in a car accident. So, in the end, rather than his facial scars hindering him, they seemingly became a part of his identity as an actor, either shaping or leading him to roles for which this aspect of his appearance becomes a unique strength of his.

Of course, Teller's filmography isn't limited to just car accident stories, as evidenced by his marquee role in the upcoming "Top Gun: Maverick." When Teller's casting was announced back in 2018, he beat out both Nicholas Hoult and Glen Powell, alongside whom he tested for the role. It's safe to say, then, that at this stage, Teller is unencumbered by his injury and the hardships it caused early on in his career.