Director-writer Ben Younger is making his own comeback with Bleed for This, his first film in about 10 years, which tells the story of the ultimate comeback in boxing. Two-time world champion Vinny “Pazmanian Devil” Pazienza was in a terrible car crash in 1991. Nearly paralyzed with a severe neck injury, he found himself with four screws and halo-healing device strapped to his body. Doctors advised him never to box again. But he secretly lifted weights despite the pain and returned to the ring within a year to win three more titles.
In a panel discussion at Deadline’s the Contenders moderated by Pete Hammond, star Miles Teller said that playing the champion boxer “required so much commitment,” having to go through many physical changes when he decided take on this part. Teller shared that he weighed 188 pounds with 19% body fat when he first met with Younger. “I was in funny friend shape,” he quipped. ” I lost, over eight months, 20 pounds” and went “down to 6% body fat.” He said he had to gain back 15 pounds during the 24 days of shooting.
This film marked Whiplash star Teller’s first turn at playing a real-life character. “I was so nervous living up to this guy and carrying the torch of his legacy and making an impact in his life,” he admitted. But he “wanted Vinny there, in a weird way, to see his life 25 years ago.:
Teller was joined onstage at the DGA by Younger and co-star Aaron Eckhart, who plays Pazienza’a trainer.
After playing the Toronto International Film Festival, Open Road will release Bleed for This wide on November 18, rather than the planned limited bow on November 4.