Pazienza won world championships in three weight classes and kept fighting even after a crippling car accident, after which he wasn't supposed to even walk. "This comeback is the greatest comeback in sports history, and it's real," Miles Teller says. "It's not some phony, fictionalised movie based on a true story. This is real. This happened. And I just think that's so inspiring for anyone. It transcends boxing."

Miles Teller in Bleed For ThisMiles Teller in Bleed For This

After building a career playing sensitive young men in films like The Spectacular Now and Whiplash, Teller knew he wasn't the logical choice for this role. "I was like, 'This part is going to be really great for someone else,'" he laughs. "I really wasn't thinking that a director would see me as anything other than a guy who's been in some independent films where he's played a high schooler and then he's done some post-college comedies or romantic comedies."

So when he landed the role, he knew he was going to need to put in quite a bit of preparation. "First, I was like, 'Man, I need to get with a nutritionist trainer!'" Teller says. "So I got a guy, Gary, we got on the right vitamins and just started working out."

Nearly a year later when the film started shooting, he finally met Pazienza himself. "He's just everything you want him to be and more," Teller says. "He was just so gracious. Vinny has been such a supporter and a fan of this process and this movie. For him to be behind it was really important for me. I would hate to make a movie about somebody with a guy feeling that some of his most personal moments were tarnished or that we were misrepresenting him. He kept telling me, 'Miles, you've got to be tough as nails. Eat nails for breakfast!'"

Intriguingly, Teller can identify with Pazienza's comeback after a car crash because he survived a near-fatal accident himself when he was 20. Even so, re-enacting Pazienza's crash for the film wasn't a problem. "I mean, my parents cringe," he says. "But when my car accident happened, I blacked out. I remember very little about it. So the actual event is more traumatic for the people around you, and then you're left with picking up the pieces. I think Vinny and I shared that in some way."

Watch the trailer for Bleed For This: