In Bleed For This, Miles Teller stars as real-life boxer Vinny Pazienza, a Rhode Island fighter whose career was derailed after he broke his neck in a 1991 car accident. In order for Teller to convincingly play the light middleweight champion, writer-director Ben Younger reveals that Teller had to gain 20 pounds and then promptly lose them to help chart Pazienza’s transformation from champion to recovering patient.

Teller, Younger, and Aaron Eckhart sat down with EW to talk about how they approached Pazienza’s story, and why Teller was so excited to tackle the boxer’s transformation.

“It’s easy to kind of stay comfortable and to keep doing parts that people like you as,” Teller explains. “But for me, I love when actors change their voice, I love when they change their physical appearance, I love when they just kind of transform. If you have a healthy amount of fear, I think that’s really going to motivate you to do the things that you need to do.”

Playing the Rhode Islander didn’t just involve bulking up: Teller also had to adopt a thick New England accent.

“I loved all the accents,” Teller says, laughing. “What Aaron was doing, what I was doing… Ted Levine, Ciarán [Hinds], Katey [Sagal]. We shot it in Providence. It was the best experience I ever had making a movie.”

Bleed for This hits theaters Friday.

Bleed for This
  • Movie
  • 116 minutes