Miles Teller Made His Studio Debut in ‘Footloose’ – The Hollywood Reporter

Miles Teller, who currently plays The Godfather producer Albert Ruddy in The Offer (premiering on Paramount+ on April 28), broke out playing a jazz drummer in 2014’s Whiplash. But three years before that, he made his studio film debut as a rhythmically challenged high school student in 2011’s .

The film, which set out to capitalize on the popularity of the Step Up franchise that kicked off in 2006 (and made Channing Tatum a star), was a remake of the 1984 hit about a big-city kid from Chicago named Ren (Kevin Bacon) who teaches a small Midwestern town to dance again after the activity is outlawed at the urging of an overzealous preacher (John Lithgow).

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From left: Teller with ‘Footloose’ co-stars Kenny Wormald and Julianne Hough and director Craig Brewer at the Nashville premiere. The film made $54 million domestically on a $24 million budget.
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The remake stars Kenny Wormald (a former Justin Timberlake background dancer who was cast when Zac Efron pulled out, worried he’d be typecast as purely a song-and-dance man after his High School Musical success) as Ren and relocates the town to Georgia (familiar Southern territory to writer-director Craig Brewer, who made his name with 2005’s Memphis-set Hustle & Flow). There, a dance ban is put in place after an accident takes the lives of a group of teens coming home from a party. Teller, then 23, plays Willard in the remake, an endearing goofball who befriends Ren and later learns to dance in a montage set to “Let’s Hear It for the Boy” — exactly as in the original.

“I have vivid memories of Miles Teller telling me he can’t dance,” recalls the movie’s choreographer, Jamal Sims. “But he said, ‘I can do this’ — and he did a glide, kind of a moonwalk in circles. I was like, ‘Oh, you can dance!’ So we use that glide in the movie a couple times. He had moves already. He literally was Willard.”

The new Footloose left The Hollywood Reporter underwhelmed, its critic calling it a “by-the-numbers affair that generates rote sympathy for hormonally charged high schoolers busting out of their jeans to find a way to express themselves.” The review did single out Wormald as a “dynamic and attractive new actor,” and as “comic relief and a reluctant dancer,” THR proclaimed, Teller “scores.”

This story first appeared in the April 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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