Film: Bleed For This

How Miles Teller got fit for boxing biopic “Bleed For This”

Words: James Luxford
Photo: Open road films

For boxing biopic “Bleed For This“, Miles Teller plays champ Vinny Paz. His fight trainer, Darrell Foster, reveals what it took

THE RED BULLETIN: What’s the key to creating a convincing boxing scene?

DARRELL FOSTER: We teach real fighting, not ‘picture fighting’. When actors show up on set on day one, they’re confident in their ability to fight. Often the director will call for things unrehearsed, so their ability to know the punch sequences allows us to create fights that are realistic on screen, even last-minute ones.

Teller’s better known for bookish roles. How did you teach him to box like a champ?

We moved directly to ring generalship – knowing who you are in the ring, owning the ring. The first thing I told him was, “You’re going to become Vinny Paz. You have to develop the attitude that it’s yours. The attitude that it’s ‘my house and you don’t belong’.” The transformation he made from ‘training day one’ to ‘shoot day one’ was incredible.

Watch the trailer of “Bleed For This“

© Youtube // Movieclips Trailers

You also trained Will Smith for his performance in Ali.

“it’s also the way we walk, hold our hands, the way we stand in public – a lot was character development“

Will had to go from 87kg to heavyweight, so training had to be an all-round physical transformation. He was on a professional fighter’s daily regime. We started at 6am and ran five miles, then did intense boxing training. I brought in real, heavyweight boxing pros to train with him. By the time the movie was about to shoot, Will could stand toe to toe with any of them. He learned the intricacies of Ali and could fight for real. But it’s also the psychological aspects of what it means to be a real fighter – the way we walk, hold our hands, the way we stand in public – a lot was character development.

Training for “Bleed For This“

Training Will Smith for his performance in Ali

© Darrell Foster

When most people think boxing movies, they think Rocky. What’s your opinion?

The Rocky movies are about the story, about the underdog triumphing against life’s circumstances. The fight scenes are strictly theatrical, they’re fantasy. They are so preposterous that nobody takes them seriously as real fights.

TRADING BLOWS

Three actors who pushed themselves to the limit to portray boxers on screen

Robert De Niro, Raging Bull (1980) 
There are many stories surrounding De Niro’s preparation for his classic performance as Jake LaMotta. Most surprising was that he fought three actual boxing bouts in Brooklyn, winning two, and LaMotta was his trainer.

Daniel Day Lewis, The Boxer (1997) 
“Daniel Day Lewis in The Boxer is the best boxing performance I’ve seen,” Foster enthuses. High praise for the star who spent 18 months training with former world featherweight champion Barry McGuigan.

Jake Gyllenhaal, Southpaw (2015)
Having slimmed down for his previous film, Nightcrawler, Gyllenhaal underwent a brutal regime which included working alongside real fighters in Floyd Mayweather’s gym, resulting in one of cinema’s greatest physical transformations.

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11 2016 The Red Bulletin

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