Catching up with the ‘Fantastic Three’ | Inquirer Entertainment
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Catching up with the ‘Fantastic Three’

By: - Columnist
/ 03:17 AM August 09, 2015

MILES Teller, who plays genius Reed Richards: “There are certain times when I will just naturally say,  ‘I have done some darker dramas; I want to do a superhero film.’”PHOTOS BY RUBEN V. NEPALES

MILES Teller, who plays genius Reed Richards: “There are certain times when I will just naturally say, ‘I have done some darker dramas; I want to do a superhero film.’”PHOTOS BY RUBEN V. NEPALES

LOS ANGELES—As if on cue, the fire alarm at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York went off just as we were interviewing Michael B. Jordan, who plays Johnny Storm, who has the superpower to light himself on fire, in “Fantastic Four.” The hotel’s fire warning system did not go off during our morning chats with Michael’s costars, Miles Teller and Jamie Bell (Kate Mara couldn’t make it in time from an out-of-town shoot).

“Is that a fire alarm?” Michael asked aloud with a sheepish grin. “I have nothing to do with it!”


“Fantastic Four” is director Josh Trank’s contemporary reimagining of Marvel’s original and longest-running superhero quartet. Aside from Johnny Storm, the team includes Reed Richards (Miles), who can stretch his body into unusual shapes; Sue Storm (Kate), who can make herself invisible and generate strong force fields, and Ben Grimm/The Thing (Jamie), who has transformed into a giant, 8,000-pound rock creature.


By coincidence Miles and Michael portray boxers in their next films. Miles, fresh from his “Whiplash” acclaim, stars in the Martin Scorsese-produced “Bleed for This,” based on the true story of WWII boxer Vinny Pazienza.

In “Creed,” Michael plays Adonis Johnson Creed, the grandson of Rocky Balboa’s (Sylvester Stallone) late buddy and former rival, Apollo Creed. Sylvester, who also produces this “Rocky” spinoff, delineates Adonis’ trainer and mentor.

Jamie stars in the TV series, “Turn: Washington’s Spies” and is filming “6 Days,” based on an April 1980 incident in which armed gunmen stormed the Iranian Embassy in London. Our Billy Elliot has indeed grown up—he has a 2-year-old son with actress Evan Rachel Wood, from whom he is separated.

Below are excerpts from our interviews with the, um, Fantastic Three:

Miles Teller

How do you pick the movies that you want to be in?


If I were completely blind, if I were to just get the scripts and they wouldn’t tell me if it was an independent or a big studio film, I would still chase the script. So there are certain times when I will just naturally say, “OK, I have done some darker dramas; I want to do a superhero film.” I have watched a lot of actors whom I enjoy watching in the “X-Men” films which has all these great actors or in the “Spider-Man” films through the years.

This movie (“Fantastic Four”) was a challenge. I hadn’t worked on anything of this scale although “Divergent” and “Insurgent” were pretty big. But yeah, it’s all a muscle. I like to see what I am capable of doing. I thought working with a green screen, in this superhero world and a character that’s much different than something else that I have played—that was great.

But for the most part, it’s pretty much always about the script. I have a pretty good wide taste so hopefully, I don’t bore myself with stuff I am doing because I think that would be the worst thing.

Having to condition yourself to become like an athlete in “Bleed for This” must have been a whole new world for you. What did that physical and emotional journey do for you?

I was very thankful for that opportunity because sometimes you can’t wait for people to tell you, “Hey, it’s your time to play this part.” Sometimes you have to show people you can do it and then they will say, “He can do it.” I always want to challenge myself. I knew at the time that maybe when people read the headline, “Miles Teller Cast as Vinny Pazienza…”

Vinny was this five-time champion world boxer. He’s a man’s man. It was a very masculine part but that’s something that I was really waiting for and wanted to do. I love gritty, masculine, strong dramatic performances. Some of my favorite actors have done many movies in that world. So for me, it was just an incredible opportunity.

I was so nervous to play this world champion. I could hear my buddies being like, “Yeah, right, man. No way.” That’s what fueled me. Vinny is an underdog in most of that movie and overcomes some great obstacles like breaking his neck in a car accident. A year later, he comes back and wins the title. It’s one of the greatest comebacks in sports history. I really identified with his warrior spirit. I like his persistence and determination.

What was the dynamic among the four of you on the “Fantastic Four” set?

We are all very close. Jamie is just a lovely person. I have been watching Jamie’s career. I saw “Billy Elliot” when I was 12 years old. I’ve always admired him. It’s nice to work on a film where every single one of these guys, even though we are young, nobody wants to be famous and nobody is a vain actor. All the actors in this movie are trying to make interesting choices in their careers and plan on doing it for a long time.

Mike and I obviously knew each other for a couple of years. We did a film (“That Awkward Moment”) together.

Kate is just lovely. I think it’s hard to deal with me, Jamie and Mike all the time. Most of these sets are pretty male-driven. Usually, the men far outweigh the women on these sets. So it’s not the easiest, but Kate can hang and is very cool. We are hoping to do several more because we all get along so well. You don’t always get along with the people you work with. It is so much harder if you don’t get along with your castmates.

Off the set, did you hang out?

Mostly to drink. A lot of times you shoot these movies in small towns. We shot this one in a small town in the Southeast with not much to do. So on weekends, you hang out and like anyone does with his friends, you get food, talk and hang out.

MICHAEL B. Jordan’s casting  was supported by the “Fantastic Four” cocreator.

MICHAEL B. Jordan’s casting was supported by the “Fantastic Four” cocreator.

Michael B. Jordan

Can you share some funny experiences you’ve had with your name?

If anybody can come up with an original joke, I would be thoroughly impressed. I have heard every joke possible. I have tried ordering pizza and have been hung up on a million times. It’s annoying at this point. It gave me a healthy chip growing up. I always wanted to have my own reputation. I didn’t always want to be compared to that guy.

So that gave me a competitive edge. It made me always want to compete and be good at something. I took that challenge with acting when I decided to take it seriously, to have people think of me and not just that guy.

Have you met him?

No. I am glad I haven’t. I want to meet him when I feel we are, not equal, but when we can respectfully see eye to eye on certain things, not just me being a fan. When that time comes, I think it will be cool.

Stan Lee enthusiastically supported your casting in “Fantastic Four.” What do you think of how some people objected to your casting?

I have never met Stan before. It’s crazy. I have been in a room with him this far apart. There were so many people jockeying for his attention at Comic-Con. I just never got a chance to finally get in front of him and say hello.

But the fact that the man who [co-created] these characters over 40 years ago gave me a stamp of approval and got behind me was a reassuring feeling.

As far as the reaction of me being cast as Johnny Storm, I wrote an open letter to Entertainment Weekly. I really addressed all of that. It was my way of getting in front of the issue and being proactive. I was like, OK, this is how I feel about it and not having to feel like I was on the defense and have to defend myself in every interview I gave because the question would always come up.

It’s so irrelevant to me as a person. To go outside of myself and have to answer for other people’s points of view is annoying. How I felt about the matter is what I wrote and that was it.

Can you talk about your coming film, “Creed?”

I am really excited about that one. I teamed up again with Ryan Coogler (his director in the acclaimed “Fruitvale Station”). He and I have become brothers at this point. Just to be able to step into a world that has been established over 40 years ago…Next year is the 40th anniversary of “Rocky.” To be able to work with Sylvester Stallone…he’s such a smart guy, very intelligent.

To transform myself into a boxer is pretty cool. As an actor, I have always liked the idea of physical transformation. Matthew McConaughey and Christian Bale have done it so well. This adds another layer to you. You walk, talk and stand differently.

I wanted to treat myself as a fighter as much as I could and live that lifestyle so I could become that as best as I could. It’s a fresh way to blend generations. You had this old school in Rocky. Apollo Creed’s grandson is more of this generation.

JAMIE BELL is unlike the comic book Thing, who was “an American football player, a big guy.”

JAMIE BELL is unlike the comic book Thing, who was “an American football player, a big guy.”

Jamie Bell

How did you land this role in “Fantastic Four” since it’s not a case of obvious casting?

I met with Josh Trank a year previously to us making this movie. I usually like to sit down and talk with young filmmakers. Josh is a young filmmaker who has found success. He made a film that I responded to called “Chronicle.” I thought it was a fantastic original installment in a genre which is just so crowded these days.

The film was so fractured and very different. I sat down with Josh and talked with him for a few hours. He asked me very specific questions about “The Adventures of Tintin” and my experience on that. I didn’t really know where he was going with it.

A year later, he calls me and says he is making “Fantastic Four.” And he asks, “How do you feel about playing Ben Grimm?” I had to look up who Ben Grimm was because I’m not familiar with comic books at all.

I thought he was joking. I’m a five-foot Englishman. I can’t play football. I think he was an American football player in the comic books. He’s a big guy, a New Yorker and all these things. So it was very unexpected but as he pitched me the movie, I really appreciated what he was trying to do. I thought what he was trying to do was very bold and unique. It reminded me of “Chronicle” in the same way.

How is fatherhood working for you?

It’s great. I always have to check myself because I’m like, is this my life that I’m living right now? This is crazy. I never anticipated this, especially being a single father, which is an interesting dynamic. I feel like I’m always in a sitcom. But it’s just incredibly rewarding. It’s a reminder of time.

Do you have joint custody?

Yes, we’re sharing our child. Again, it’s a time thing—you really get a sense of time passing. There are gonna be elements of his life that you potentially don’t see and aren’t really a part of. That’s horrible.

But you know, there’s monotony to it as well. I was just talking about that—it’s monotonous. Like, trying to come up with things to do with him. Like, where are we gonna go today? We’ve done that park 15 million times. I’ve thrown the ball 20,000 times. I’m not really patient and want to do something different every day. But, I’m really having a great time.

Do you catch a performance of “Billy Elliot” the musical whenever you can?

Not really (laughs). I did when it came out but I feel that the musical has almost been going on for as long as I’ve been alive. The musical is a phenomenon by itself. It’s an empire that I was never really a part of. But I’m glad that it still resonates with people. I feel very privileged and proud to have been a part of that.

Do you still tap dance?

Not really, no. I know it’s a shame. Especially as I get older and get a gut.

What do you love about being an actor?

I have a love-hate relationship with it. I love the doing of it. It’s very rare for me to walk away from a day’s filming and going like, “Well I nailed that. I just killed that scene today.” I usually walk away going, “Well, I’ll get it tomorrow. I’ll do it better tomorrow.”

I’ve always been that way ever since I was a kid. So it’s kind of like a keep-coming-back situation. Like tomorrow I’ll do it. The next job will be better. I’ll figure out who I am as an actor tomorrow. And that’s the thing that keeps you doing it.

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TAGS: Fantastic Four, Jamie Bell, Michael B. Jordan, Miles Teller

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