Miles Teller is proving to be an actor who specializes in roles that combine extreme effort and crippling excess. Aaron Eckhart, meanwhile, has become the kind of performer who can bring a well-worn specificity to grizzled supporting roles.
Combine those elements and you get “Bleed for This,” the latest film from Ben Younger (“Boiler Room”). Teller plays Vinny Pazienza, a boxer struggling to return to the ring after a debilitating neck injury. It’s a performance that showcases Teller’s physicality against the backdrop of a true-life story. As Pazienza’s coach, Kevin Rooney, Eckhart brings his ferocity to a role that requires a less obvious show of continual force.
Younger has said that “Bleed for This” is far from a movie solely for boxing purists; he also wanted to rope in audiences who don’t care about sports at all. It’s an admirable goal, but one that doesn’t work without the full commitment and contributions of the two men at the center.
Teller and Eckhart spoke with us at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival about letting Panzienza’s absurd recklessness and unrelenting drive inform each of their characters. For them, it was about protecting that spirit in the same way that Rooney looked out for his fighter.