“I know that there’s nothing handsome about me,” Miles Teller told Vogue Italy in 2015.
And in the decade or so that Teller has been a movie star, people have generally agreed.
“He’s a surprisingly ordinary-looking baby-faced guy who charmed his way out of the manatee-infested Confederate backwater of Citrus County, Florida” a Vulture profile reported in 2014. The Guardian described him as “sleepy” looking. To Roger Ebert.com he is simply “not conventionally glamorous.”
Teller’s appearance has been dissected—by the media and by himself—with a ruthlessness that is usually reserved for famous women. Teller has played leading men in two-to-four movies a year since 2013. He has been a Marvel hero, a firefighter, and a staggering number of douche bros—all archetypes associated with good looks. He’s currently starring in The Offer on Paramount Plus in a role that originally went to Armie Hammer. And still, even Miles Teller isn’t sure if Miles Teller is really hot.
“This dude is so ugly! How does he get fucking parts?” Teller said, parroting his haters in an Esquire profile in 2015. “Well, he’s not, like, traditionally handsome, but . . .” Later he told Playboy that he is used to reading tweets comparing his face to “a foot” or to Ted Cruz. At any point in Teller’s decade-plus of stardom, social media images of him have usually been garlanded with inches and feet of comments that add up, essentially, to “…Him?”
That’s changing now. The Miles Teller fandom—people who have had a deep affection and inexplicable animal attraction to Miles Teller for years—are being overwhelmed by panting, mouth-frothing band wagoners. It is a tale of muscles, mustache, and and angst.
The shift happened this month, with Teller’s role as Lieutenant Bradley Bradshaw, call sign “Rooster,” in Top Gun: Maverick. Picking up more than 30 years after Top Gun, the movie has been a box office sensation and a triumph of military propagandism with a near-perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Alongside the iron cheekbones and jawlines of Tom Cruise, Glen Powell, and John Hamm, Teller has emerged as the movie’s major sex symbol. His gigantic face has taken over timelines and feeds. His mustache, which is the type that would provoke mockery if it was on another man’s face, is inspiring odes in video form. Everyone onscreen looks stellar, with their shining aviator glasses, blockbuster grooming routines, and flattering backdrop of blue sky. But they’re models—perfect, untouchable. Teller, with his ability to crumple in distress or swell with bravado, is the heartthrob.
In a scene that alludes to the original’s iconic volleyball sequence, fighter pilots play football on the beach, nimbly treading the surf glazed in sweat and California sun. It’s a buffet of (mostly) male bodies. Countless fan-made videos feature Teller’s moment in the football scene, his torso ripping in a half-erotic, half-goofy dance. Montages of Teller in Top Gun have gone viral on Tiktok, set to the Oscar winning ballad “Take My Breath Away” from the original movie. Even Teller’s wife, Keleigh Teller, got in on it, making a fan-style video of Teller footage with the caption, “We’re all Team Rooster here…thirst on.”