Miles Teller on How a Car Accident that Nearly Killed Him Changed His Life

The actor was 20 years old when his friend lost control of the car they were in.

ByABC News
August 19, 2016, 11:30 AM

— -- When Miles Teller was 20 years old, he was in a car accident that almost took his life.

"My buddy lost control of my car going 80 mph. We flipped eight times. I got ejected out the window. The car landed and I was just laying like 50 feet from the car, unconscious, covered in blood. My buddy thought I was dead," Teller, 29, said in an interview with Peter Travers for ABC News' "Popcorn With Peter Travers."

The actor, who was between his sophomore and junior years of college at the time, still has scars from the accident.

"I got scars on my face. I still have two rocks in my face," Teller said, as he let Travers touch the two pieces of gravel in his face.

Doctors told him that removing the rocks would cause more scarring, Teller said. Still, for three to four years, Teller said he endured painful lasers to remove some of the scars on his face.

His scars, Teller said, sometimes prevented him from getting acting roles.

"When I first started auditioning, people were straight up just like, 'Yeah, Miles is a good actor, [but it] doesn't make sense for this character to have scars,'" Teller said. "They [the scars] used to be really bad."

"And then 'Rabbit Hole' [film director] John Cameron Mitchell was like, 'I love it. It tells a secret.'"

Teller went on to star in a number of films involving accidents with cars, including "The Spectacular Now," which won a special jury prize at Sundance Film Festival and the Oscar-nominated "Whiplash."

In his latest movie, "War Dogs," Teller plays David Packouz, an international arms dealer.

Based on a true story, the characters played by Teller and Jonah Hill score a government contract to supply weapons for U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

"I've played a couple people that existed in real life, and there's certain characters, I think, that … you should try to imitate them or pick up on certain things because people know who they are," Teller said. "In this case, I was just more concerned with, I guess, how do you justify it, and how do you get this far?"

Teller plays another true-to-life character in the upcoming film "Granite Mountain," which is based on the Granite Mountain Hotshots. He dyed his hair blonde for the role of Brendan McDonough, who survived the Yarnell Hill Fire, an Arizona wildfire in 2013 that killed 19 firefighters.

"I love stories like this, and I don't mean that in terms of, you know, tragedies and that you're exploiting it or using it in some way as an actor that's not respectful," Teller said of the movie. "These hotshots are, you know, putting in 16 hours a day fighting a wildfire, and nobody knows who they are. Nobody knows what they do to save homes, what they do to preserve, you know, scenery. It's a really tough job, so I'm just glad that we're one of the first people to put hotshots on film."

As an actor, Teller said he embraces his opportunities to undertake difficult characters.

"I've always wanted to play a boxer. I want to play a soldier. I want to play -- I don't know. I love those kind of parts," said Teller.

Teller said he has also felt the pressure of following the success of his previous films.

"The best thing you can go off of is, you know, read the script. Hopefully it's there on the pages," Teller said. "I know actors, you know, that have literally won Academy Awards that have told me that it wasn't on the page, and every day they were fighting to make it the best version of what it was. So it's rarely seamless."

And though his 2015 film "Fantastic Four" was critically bashed, he said he would do it all again.

"I would show up tomorrow if they wanted to do it, with that cast absolutely," Teller said.

Watch the full interview with Miles Teller on ABC News' "Popcorn With Peter Travers" above.

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