“This year I was in a movie called Top Gun: Maverick, and one of the things that I loved about the movie is that it really seemed to bring people together,” Teller, 35, said on the Saturday, October 1, season 48 premiere. “I mean, it’s not every day that you get a movie that’s loved by both the military community and the gay community. So, it worked out.”
He continued: “It was also amazing to get to work with Tom Cruise. I mean, that guy is a legend. We both pushed ourselves to the absolute limit for this movie. I mean, he did his own stunts and I grew my own mustache.”
In addition to growing his own facial hair, Teller also learned some new musical tricks.
“In the movie, there’s a scene where my character Rooster plays and sings ‘Great Balls of Fire’ on the piano and, you, I played piano a bit growing up, so I told [producers], ‘Look, I don’t need a double, guys. I will do this myself; I’ll do this live,’” the actor quipped during his monologue. “So, I learned this song and I practiced it a bunch; I even took piano lessons. My instructor was J.K. Simmons [my costar in Whiplash, and] he was surprisingly nice.”
“I don’t know what [I’ve seen so far], but it’s not comedy,” Hamm quipped after Teller’s Peyton asked how the political sketch was going. “I mean, they haven’t even used Kenan [Thompson] yet. That’s like putting a whole team of Eli’s on the field when you have Peyton sitting on the sidelines.”
After Teller and Andrew Dismukes (who played Eli) joked that Shaun White‘s own cameo was “stunt casting,” Hamm offered an explanation.
“You know, sometimes [they have to do that] when the host isn’t that famous,” the Morning Show star teased his Maverick costar. “Maybe they couldn’t get the star of the big summer movie [like] Tom Cruise or Jon Hamm, [so] they had to get the costar.”
Teller’s Peyton shot back: “I heard they rarely put the host in the cold open, so when they do, it’s special!”
The Footloose actor’s Saturday jokes reference his role as Lt. Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw in May’s Top Gun: Maverick. The film — a sequel to the 1986 production — followed Cruise’s Pete “Maverick” Mitchell as he trained a group of new recruits for an integral military mission. Teller, Glen Powell, Greg Tarzan Davis and Lewis Pullman all played the newbies.
“It is really intense, just like the nature of it,” the Spectacular Now star said during an April appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! about his experience on set. “You know, you’re flying all the time [and] you’re in these briefings and that’s very serious but a lot of times I’d have a little Bluetooth speaker and I would start playing, like, songs from the Top Gun soundtrack in the middle of really intense [scenes] just to lighten up.”
Not only did Top Gun: Maverick gross more than $150 million in its opening weekend, but Teller’s chiseled abs became a central conversation point thanks to a singular shirtless scene of the Pennsylvania native dancing on the beach. Before the Divergent actor’s big screen shirtless moment he followed a strict fitness regimen to get in shape.
“Tom is a huge advocate of making sure that these guys are really put through the rigors and the tests,” Teller’s personal trainer, Jason Walsh, exclusively told Us Weekly in June. “They were actually in these jets … so [it was about] physical preparation, just getting strong, moving well, make sure physically he was very fit.”
The Rise Nation founder added: “I knew Tom was gonna put these guys through it and he definitely did. You can see it on their face. When they’re doing this, they’re not faking it. This is real. … [Miles] took everything very seriously. He was very professional. You could just tell that this had this thing that was really going to require and push him to his limits physically. And the payoff was, you know, an incredible movie.”
Several of Teller’s castmates have also been candid about how they prepared for Top Gun: Maverick.
“We had to do all this swim training in order to get certified in order to get into the plane that wasn’t even in the movie,” Pullman, 29, told Us in July. “But despite all that, despite the challenges, Tom really set up this course himself, he designed this training, this training program himself. And so who better to do that than Tom Cruise? Who knows exactly what an actor is gonna need from the ground up to get to be able to perform at that level, and that training two and a half months, what that had to look like. And so it really, he kind of gave us this really gradual program and in such a way that it felt manageable and in these kind of like bite-size digestive portions where it was like, ‘OK, I think I can do this. I think this is absolutely insane, but I think I can do it.’”
While Teller’s Saturday appearance — alongside musical guest Kendrick Lamar —marks his first time hosting the late-night variety series, his wife — Keleigh Teller, whom he wed in September 2019 — and their celebrity friends were thrilled by the casting news.
The Spiderhead actor’s SNL hosting debut was particularly memorable considering his childhood fandom.
“I gotta say I am so honored to be here. Growing up, me and my family would watch SNL every week and then my sisters [Erin and Dana] and I would reenact some of the sketches [including the ‘Spartan Cheerleaders’] and my mom would videotape them,” Miles noted in his monologue before sharing a clip. “How crazy is that? My parents used to watch me doing skits in my living room and now they’re here watching me host Saturday Night Live.”
Saturday Night Live airs on NBC Saturdays at 11:30 p.m. ET.
For more, watch the clip above!