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Miles Teller on Playing Boxer Vinny Pazienza in ‘Bleed for This’: ‘I Had Big Shoes to Fill’

“[Vinny] told me [to] stuff a banana in my undies to make it look bigger,” Miles Teller joked at the New York City premiere of “Bleed For This” at AMC Lincoln Center on Monday night. Teller’s new film is a biographical drama following the unimaginable comeback of world-title boxer Vinny “The Pazmanian Devil” Pazienza after a severe spinal cord injury.

While the film is rooted in boxing, director and screenwriter Ben Younger said the movie is about so much more.

“It was all about Vinny’s comeback,” he said. “If he was a crossing guard I’d still have made the movie. I find it compelling that someone would risk paralysis for something they are passionate for in their life.”

Teller added, “I had big shoes to fill. It’s not like [Vinny] was just a boxer, his reputation in the ring was ‘You can’t stop this guy.’ He broke his nose in every fight. Every fight, he’s covered in blood and he keeps moving forward and that’s really commendable.”

Aaron Eckhart, who took on the role of Pazienza’s coach, Kevin Rooney, felt the same way.

“I love stories about guys who go all the way and believe in themselves and believe in their dream against all the advice of others around them. This guy is an animal and I wanted to be a part of this,” he said.

The movie, executive produced by Martin Scorsese, also stars Katey Sagal and Ciaran Hinds.

After the screening, guests sipped white wine and snacked on small bites of pizza, barbecue chicken skewers, and sliders while Teller snapped photos with Eckhart, Pazienza, and fans at Ascent Lounge in New York.

Bleed For This” opens Nov. 18.

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