No-one needs to remind Miles Teller just how important “Thank You For Your Service’s” subject matter is. In fact, Teller was so attentive and concerned about taking on the role as Iraq War veteran and PTSD sufferer Adam Schumann that he almost turned it down.
“I didn’t want to embarrass him. And I didn’t want to embarrass the military. I think even pretending or acting like you’ve done three deployments and went through the things that he went through; I don’t know, something about that didn’t feel right to me,” Teller explained to me over the phone earlier this month.
“That shifted, though. And then I felt a real responsibility and felt like I really wanted to be the person to tell his story.”
“Thank You For Your Service” doesn’t just tell Adam’s story, though, it also revolves around Tausolo Aieti (Beulah Koale) and Will Waller (Joe Cole), too, both of whom, like Adam, have returned to the US but struggle to adjust to their surroundings.
While Teller admits that he was “very nervous” about portraying Adam Schumann, who in real life was “a high-ranking officer in the army and in charge of eight guys,” the responsibility of bringing his story to the big-screen soon turned into a positive rather than a negative.
“I think we are in the business of storytelling, and I think it is our job to entertain people for a form of escape. But the medium of film is extremely powerful and it can do something that an article just can’t. Create an extremely visceral, eye-opening experience, and you can allow the audience to be a fly on the wall, and really give the first person perspective on what someone is going through. It is very powerful and you can shine a light on some issues that aren’t being talked about enough, like this one.”
When it came to “Thank You For Your Service” this meant drawing attention to the “lack of reintegration” provided for veterans.
“There’s no programs really. These guys come back, and in Adam’s case you are carrying Emory down the stairs, and Emory is bleeding out. His fallen brother, the guy is shot in the head, and Adam is choking on his blood, and swallowing parts of his brain, and all that sh**. Then a week later he is at home making pancakes. How quickly they expect these guys to make this transition was shocking to me.”
Teller is hopeful that “Thank You For Your Service” can help to “lessen the divide between civilian and veteran,” especially as during his extensive research he learned “that the men and women that serve this country are becoming more and more segregated.”
“They’re coming from very similar parts of the country. They’re coming from similar economic backgrounds. It’s not like these guys were drafted, and it’s not like it is World War II, people don’t think they have a patriotic duty [to support them]. I don’t know, it just seems more and more divided. So I am hoping that people see this and regardless of how you feel about the war, it doesn’t have anything to do with that, this is just humanizing it.”
“Thank You For Your Service” is released into cinemas on Friday October 27th.