The Glen Powell Network

11 Jul

Perfect storm: How Twisters continues the legacy of a classic blockbuster with some, well, twists

Photoshoots > Outtakes > Session 045

Read the full article at the Entertainment Weekly website.

Daisy Edgar-Jones, Glen Powell, Anthony Ramos, and director Lee Isaac Chung take EW inside the making of their blustery “standalone sequel.
“We got cows.”

The Twister line was inescapable following the blockbuster disaster film’s release in 1996, but it’s just as apropos over a quarter century later on a Universal soundstage as Anthony Ramos joins his Twisters costars Glen Powell and Daisy Edgar-Jones on the Universal City, Calif., set of their Entertainment Weekly photo shoot.

Powell’s rescue pup Brisket has been everyone’s favorite guest all morning, but Ramos walks in with his own companion: an inflatable cow he’s named Nancy. “Nancy’s a star,” Ramos declares of the petite plastic pet he’s carried with him since CinemaCon in Las Vegas the weekend prior. Indeed, Nancy has been all over social media — but she’s about to be upstaged as Ramos enters the set and discovers a life-size cow statue. “Oh, s—,” the Hamilton and In the Heights alum exclaims. “It’s Nancy’s mom!”

The talk of offspring is fitting, given the actors have gathered to promote their follow-up to the Helen Hunt-Bill Paxton hit. (All involved avoid calling it a traditional sequel, instead using terms like “standalone sequel” or “current-day chapter” — meaning it exists in the world of the original film but with no continued story or returning characters.) Smiles burst across their faces when discussing the 20 million views their Twisters Super Bowl trailer has racked up on YouTube and the thunderous applause they received at their CinemaCon presentation. But they get more serious when asked about the first time they saw the original, Powell leaning in to share his memory. “Growing up in Texas, Twister was one of the most iconic movies of all time,” the Top Gun: Maverick and Anyone But You star tells EW. “You grow up in Tornado Alley, and that’s the monster that exists in your own backyard.”

It’s an experience Powell shares with his Twisters director, Lee Isaac Chung, the Oscar-nominated writer and director best known for his quiet, semi-autobiographical 2021 Best Picture nominee Minari. Twisters executive producer Steven Spielberg & Co. learned of Chung’s ability to direct action from his work on Lucasfilm’s The Mandalorian and upcoming Star Wars series Skeleton Crew, but, more importantly, the Golden Globe winner grew up in rural Arkansas near the Oklahoma border. “From what I understand, they were hoping that they could find a filmmaker who comes from the area,” Chung explains. “There’s just a feeling when you’re living in that part of the country where you have to be humble to nature and to weather. I wanted to bring that feeling of what it’s like to live in that part of the country and deal with nature: to be in awe of it, to fear it, but also to be in love with it. I wanted to combine all of those things in this movie.”

The team started working off a script by Mark L. Smith (The Boys in the Boat, The Revenant) from a story by Top Gun: Maverick director Joseph Kosinski, who’d signed on to helm Twisters in 2020 before leaving for another project. (In 2021, Helen Hunt expressed interest in directing a Twister sequel she was writing with Daveed Diggs, but it never came to fruition.) Chung loved Smith’s “smart” script but also collaborated with his cast to flesh out their characters: Edgar-Jones as Kate, a former storm chaser who gave up her pursuits after a fatal “wrong call” while studying at Muskogee State University (the alma mater of Hunt and Paxton’s Twister characters, though neither is referenced in the new film); Powell as Tyler, a former rodeo star who has amassed a large social media following as a “tornado wrangler”; and Ramos as Javi, Kate’s former classmate who persuades her back into the field to help his company, which is developing technology to help predict tornado strikes.

“It really felt like a story just about Kate and Tyler, and Javi was kind of like the segue,” Ramos says of the first script draft he read. “But now, it truly feels like he’s in the center of that. We feel the connection between him and Kate throughout the film. We really worked to develop Javi in a way where it felt like, ‘Oh yeah, no, we need this guy.'”

And Javi needs Kate, traveling to New York to convince her to return home to Oklahoma and the profession she left behind. “What jumped off the page to me was that this character had sort of PTSD, really,” Edgar-Jones says of Kate. “But she’s trying what she can to move past it in order to help other people. I found it very interesting that throughout the script, there’s this idea of taming a tornado. Storms can be such a great metaphor for inner turmoil, and I think Kate is trying to tame both.”

When Edgar-Jones and Ramos heard Chung was attached, they jumped at the chance to work with the director, whom the cast refers to by his middle name. “The idea of seeing someone like Isaac — who’s so incredibly good at crafting relationships and stories and character — take on this huge scale of a project was so exciting,” says Edgar-Jones, who wrote a letter to Chung detailing how she felt she was on a similar career trajectory, ready to graduate from smaller projects like Normal People (which garnered her a 2021 Golden Globe nomination). Adds Ramos: “Sometimes when these big movies come around, maybe the script doesn’t feel like it’s all the way there. Or it feels like they pick a director who can just get bossed around by the studio. But when I saw Isaac was directing this, I was like, ‘Nah, this feels different. I know that this guy’s going to do this film in a way where we really care about the people, and we really want them to survive, and we really want them to win.'”

Then there’s Tyler, established in the movie’s first trailer as an arrogant influencer who sells merch with his face on it. “I understand that when my function within the movie is fun, I get to be a wild, rowdy cowboy,” says Powell. “While everyone else is driving as quickly away from a tornado as they possibly can, I’m the guy driving directly into it. It was just a blast to play. Tyler is who everyone wants to be, the guy that’s hollering and screaming and laughing when the chaos is happening.”

But, unlike the original film, Twisters gets cloudy when it comes to who you’re rooting for. Kate and Javi? Tyler? Tyler and Kate? Even visually, things are inverted — with Tyler’s ragtag team of chasers (played by Brandon Perea, Sasha Lane, Tunde Adebimpe, and Katy O’Brian) much more akin to Hunt and Paxton’s band of misfits, and Javi’s crew uniformed and well-funded like the group led by Cary Elwes’ arrogant Jonas in Twister.

“I found those dynamics of shifts in characters and allegiances very refreshing because I feel like, culturally, we’re at a moment where we often look at each other as black-and-white antagonists, that we are polar opposites of other people,” says Chung. “We often don’t look at the gray zone that all of us are in. But what I like about Mark’s script is that he’s portraying people in their complexity, with this idea that all of us have good and bad — and the hope is that we find a way to come together, especially in the context of greater societal issues, such as the fact that storms are intensifying in this country.”

According to Chung, the closest thing to a Jonas character in the new film is Javi’s business partner Scott (played by James Gunn’s new Superman star David Corenswet). And stepping into the fish-out-of-water (cow-in-the-air?) role filled by Jami Gertz in Twister is Downton Abbey and The Crown actor Harry Hadden-Paton as Ben, a risk-averse British journalist writing a profile on Tyler.

“This is an incredible ensemble, so many amazing actors who have been the lead of their own movies,” Powell says of the cast, which also includes Maura Tierney, Kiernan Shipka, Daryl McCormack, and Nik Dodani. “I wouldn’t say that this movie’s like a normal movie in the way that you know who’s going to end up in a tornado and who’s going to end up on the ground because everybody’s a star in their own right. The fact that Lee Isaac Chung was able to bring this group of people together, I think, is really going to keep the audience on the edge of their seat to see who makes it to the end.”

02 Jun

Summer’s Hottest Duo: Glen Powell and Adria Arjona

Photoshoots > Outtakes > Session 044

Read the full article at the InStyle Magazine website:

The co-stars of Netflix’s new flick ‘Hit Man’ sat down with ‘InStyle’ to talk fame, sex scenes, and reality tv.
“Hey, buddy. You are not a guard dog!”

Glen Powell’s dog, Brisket, has started to bark. We’re sitting at Edge Studios in Los Angeles, discussing Powell’s new film Hit Man alongside his co-star Adria Arjona and, for most of the interview, Brisket has been happily tended to by the small cadre of assistants, publicists, and stylists that appear out of the ether whenever an actor is promoting their latest project. But someone had breakfast delivered, and Brisket (all 10 pounds of him) has decided to take it upon himself to protect us from the stranger at the door.

“You are not a guard dog,” Powell repeats.

But a tiny, adorable, well-behaved dog pretending to be something a lot tougher than he is couldn’t be a better metaphor for Hit Man. In the Richard Linklater–directed film, Powell (who also served as co-writer and a producer) stars as Gary, a mild-mannered philosophy professor at a New Orleans university who moonlights with the police department arranging sting operations for would-be criminals who think they’re hiring killers. Gary quickly realizes he has a knack for shape-shifting in order to meet the marks, with elaborate personas ranging from a dead-on American Psycho impression to a persnickety oddball with a ginger bob and the mannerisms of Tilda Swinton.

It’s while he’s in character as fake hitman “Ron”—a walking leather-jacket with a devil-may-care attitude—that Gary meets Madison (Arjona), a young woman looking for a way out of a controlling marriage. Their chemistry is immediate, but Gary realizes that if he has any chance of wooing Madison, it’s only so long as he remains “Ron.” At the same time, he has to decipher whether Madison’s murderous intentions were just a moment of desperation or evidence of a deeper, darker drive.

Adria Arjona leaning on her hand in a striped and ruffled shirt.

Some actors are forced to put their professional skills to work during press interviews in order to convince the world that they like each other. But as I observe Arjona (Andor, Good Omens) and Powell (Top Gun: Maverick, Anyone But You) over coffee, it’s obvious that these two actually like each other. They talk and joke and finish each other’s sentences. Before they sit down, they compare the tricks used to prep for today’s early morning cover shoot—Arjona sat in a steam room; Glen plunged his face into a bowl of ice water.

That natural chemistry that Arjona and Powell have when they’re just existing as human beings is part of what makes Hit Man such a fun film: The actors felt comfortable enough with each other as they were rehearsing to pitch new ideas and see where the characters took them. It was a collaborative process, they tell me, in which the two actors always felt they were supporting each other. “It’s like, I have your back and you have mine,” Arjona says.

In one particularly memorable scene, Arjona’s Madison acts as seductress while role-playing as a flight attendant. I ask Arjona if that was her idea. “Fuck,” she laughs. “The flight attendant was my idea.”

Glen Powell leaning on his hand in a white blazer.

“It was your idea!” Glen exclaims. “Everybody’s going to think I’m just living this Top Gun sexual fantasy here. No, it’s all Adria.”

Hit Man manages to achieve an all-too-rare distinction in the pantheon of romantic comedies: It’s actually sexy. It’s also funny, charming, and romantic—a feat of genre balancing that displays the full range of both Arjona’s and Powell’s movie-star prowesses. While Brisket entertained himself with his cadre of admirers, Arjona and Powell turned their attention to InStyle for an in-depth conversation on imposter syndrome, reality TV, and the process of making an erotic thriller with a romantic-comedy tucked away at its center.

Posted by jen under Gallery, Glen Powell, Hitman, Photoshoots, Press, Projects
28 May

Everybody wants some Glen Powell

Photoshoots > Outtakes > Session 043

Read the full article at the British GQ website:

For years, Glen Powell was an also-ran for every blockbuster going. Now, riding the mega-success of Anyone But You, and leading two of this summer’s biggest movies, he’s learning to enjoy everything he’d been missing out on
Glen Powell is the perfect person to take you on a tour of the Warner Bros’ backlot. I say this with apologies to Tom, our heavily experienced actual tour guide, who on this particular sunny day in Burbank, California, is attempting to add to Powell’s running commentary by directing our attention to a chandelier from Casablanca, or a jukebox once used by Elvis. Glen Powell is the perfect tour guide because the Warner Bros’ backlot – once home to the likes of the Animaniacs, The Ellen DeGeneres Show and The Big Bang Theory – is inherently uncool. It’s the kitschy zenith of Hollywood tourism, the LA version of pulling on a Keep Calm and Carry On T-shirt in the queue for Madame Tussauds. And Glen Powell has no interest in pretending to be cool.

Don’t believe the movies – at least not the ones where he plays hot egotistical finance bros, or blows people up in fighter jets. Glen Powell is a massive film nerd. “Anybody who knows me knows I’m obsessed with this,” he’ll say, and go on to prove that a thousand times today, as you walk through the sprawling complex of gigantic beige hangars, bumping into random vignettes from film history. He’ll ask you to take a picture with him on the Central Perk sofa from the actual set of Friends. He’ll say, “Oh, this is cool!” and the cool thing will be a miniature aeroplane that was made to look like a bigger aeroplane in The Right Stuff. “My first school project in second grade was on Steven Spielberg’s use of practical effects,” he’ll say as an aside, seriously. He’ll tell you about the Saturday Night Live: The Best Of DVDs he used to rinse as a kid, and that his mum says he used watch the behind-the-scenes featurettes of movies more than the movies themselves.

Then his attention will be grabbed by something else: a large table and chair next to a small table and chair, and he’ll ask you to join him in demonstrating forced perspective, the camera trickery Peter Jackson used to make Ian McKellen look huge and Elijah Wood look hobbitish in The Lord of the Rings, and when you move for the smaller seat, he’ll say, “No man, you should be the giant.”

Glen Powell is the best person to lead this tour because this place was a major setting in his former life, the one before he became a movie star, where he nearly ground himself to dust trying to make it in the industry he cares deeply about. (Perhaps too deeply, he wonders at times.) “Look!” He’ll say. There’s the fake New York street where he played Brett Farnsworth in a one-episode arc of Without A Trace in 2008. Look! There’s the fake front stoop from Full House where the real John Stamos gave him a fatherly speech during a drawn-out breakup. The anecdotes will come thick and fast, and you’ll be surprised that someone has lived so much real life in a make-believe place.

“Wait – is that James Gunn’s office?” Powell says.

The (newly-revamped) Superman insignia is calling out to him like a beacon at the end of a long alleyway. Tom casts some doubt, but Powell is convinced. A knock; no one is home. We linger in the reception area, in the glow of the sign, for just a moment. Now that every door in town seems to be opening for Powell, it feels surprising to find one that, at least for now, remains shut.

“I was always a Batman guy,” Powell tells me later, as we walk through a hall lined with Batmobiles. Powell has no interest in playing a superhero, but flirts with the idea of Bruce Wayne (who anyway, is just a man). “I would have a wild take on Batman. It definitely would not be like a Matt Reeves tone – it’d probably be closer to Keaton. Oh, sick!” He has found Keaton’s Batmobile. “See? This is the era.”

Although he hasn’t played Batman, he has been pretty close. “I get my head smashed in by Bane in The Dark Knight Rises,” he says, proudly. Powell moved to LA from his hometown of Austin, Texas, in 2008, but struggled to find his footing as a young actor. He went through various agents, at one point repping himself. “When you have no one championing you, you feel like you’re adrift.” He would wake up every day and look at casting breakdowns, film unsolicited auditions, find out casting directors’ contact information and get a friend of his who worked in sales to call them on his behalf. “I was like, this town’s gonna kick me out regardless. You might as well kick down every door you possibly can,” he says, as we amble back out onto the lot.

“Glen?!”

Pam Abdy, the co-chair and CEO of Warner Bros’ Motion Picture Group – who is, by the way, in the middle of an interview with the BBC – has spotted the leading man of her big summer blockbuster. “Twisters was so much fun, we had a blast,” she says, pulling him into a familiar embrace.

Powell is a superhero around here nowadays. In the past three years, he’s carved himself out as one of the few leading actors who can reliably juice up the box office. Forgetting Top Gun: Maverick, in which he played the cocky antagonist Hangman, his value in the eyes of Hollywood decision-makers is higher than ever thanks to a movie that virtually no one predicted would become so big: Anyone But You, the Shakespeare-inspired romcom in which he starred alongside Sydney Sweeney, which has pulled in a staggering $218 million since its release. Powell has just co-written and starred in Hit Man, directed by Richard Linklater, which was so warmly received on the festival circuit last year that Netflix coughed up $20 million for it in September. This summer he’s the lead in Twisters, a throwback sequel to the 1990s action film Twister, which looks set to revive another worn-out genre: the climate-panic blockbuster.

And then there are all the maybes and probablies in the works. He missed out on what would become Josh Hartnett’s role in Oppenheimer by a slim margin, he says, but he’s still in touch with Christopher Nolan, and has faith that they’ll get to do something together soon. He’s co-creating a Captain Planet TV series that Leonardo DiCaprio is producing. Unrelatedly, he’s off for a casual meeting with British filmmaker Edgar Wright after this. To steal the title of one of his first major films: everybody wants some Glen Powell.

Posted by jen under Gallery, Glen Powell, Photoshoots, Press
22 May

Glen Powell Finally Conquered Hollywood. So Why Is He Leaving?

Photoshoots > Outtakes > Session 042

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTERThe red hot star of ‘Top Gun’ and ‘Anyone But You’ — mentored by Tom Cruise and on every studio wish list — is returning to his native Texas to party with his folks, escape the L.A. fishbowl and finally graduate college. But don’t worry, you’ll still be seeing him everywhere.
Glen Powell arrives at lunch through a back door toting a container of bone broth he isn’t eager to look at, much less consume. He’s more a “chicken-fried-steak-in-Austin kind of a guy,” he insists, but he’s signed on to star in an A24 revenge thriller and he’s supposed to drop 15 pounds in a matter of weeks. It means he won’t be ordering the midday margarita that Ron Perlman is nursing at the next table. Reluctantly, Powell requests a green juice.

“I’ve almost given up on this diet, like, three times,” he says, flashing a familiar smile. “I’m like, ‘Can’t we just change the character?’”

But Powell’s not one to give up on anything, so he hands over the broth. The restaurant’s going to store it for him, he tells me, since he doesn’t have a kitchen of his own in Los Angeles anymore. After more than 15 years here, he is moving back home to Texas, where he’ll finally complete his college degree and be closer to his family. He’ll keep a place in Tribeca, too, but he’s officially turned over the keys to his spot in the Hollywood Hills that he’s been living in ever since he landed his breakout role in Top Gun: Maverick. In fact, this is Powell’s last week in L.A., which is hitting him harder than he anticipated. Still, at 35, he’s ready for a change, and the real benefit of “getting to this point in Hollywood is that I can now leave Hollywood,” he says. “It’s like I’ve earned the ability to go back to my family.”

To my surprise, and, frankly, to his, this is a very new development — despite all the media attention surrounding Top Gun, Powell’s career didn’t fundamentally change back in 2022. Instead, it was the runaway success of his recent Sydney Sweeney rom-com, Anyone But You, that proved to studio heads that he not only had leading-man charisma but also the increasingly rare ability to open a movie. In the months since its $200 million-plus box office haul, Powell, who’s more reminiscent of his buff, all-American predecessors than some of his more waifish contemporaries, has watched his stock in the industry soar. Those same execs who wouldn’t pony up for his festival darling Hit Man — which opens May 24 then rolls out on Netflix two weeks later — are wooing him now with tentpole offers and blockbuster paydays. “He’s the complete package,” raves Universal Pictures president Peter Cramer, who has him in the studio’s big summer bet, Twisters, out in mid-July.

But Powell isn’t interested in simply being another actor-for-hire, nor is he waiting around to become the next Tom Cruise. “First of all, there will never be another Tom Cruise,” he says of his co-star, who has become a friend and mentor. “That is a singular career in a singular moment, but also movie stars of the ’80s, ’90s, early 2000s, those will never be re-created.”

When it’s suggested that the imperiled state of the movie star in today’s Wall Street-tethered, superhero-obsessed landscape is a shame, in part because it seems like Powell would’ve had a hell of a time, he howls in agreement. “Oh, I’ve heard the stories from the guys on Expendables 3,” he says, referring to the 2014 movie he made with a who’s who of ’80s action stars. “It was these giants — Antonio Banderas, Harrison Ford, Schwarzenegger — and they were all like, ‘Man, you are doing this in the wrong moment.’ Like, ‘This is not the time.’ ” Richard Linklater, who directed Powell in Hit Man, which they co-wrote, doesn’t argue. “I can’t be like, ‘My advice to you is to be born 25 years earlier,’ ” Linklater says, “but I’ve thought that about Glen. Like, God, you’re in the wrong era.”

So, Powell is trying to do Hollywood a different way, involving himself in every facet of the process — always as the star, often as a producer and increasingly as a writer. And soon, he’ll be operating from a healthy physical distance, free of the mounting “fishbowl feeling” he describes as camera phones increasingly point in his direction and everyone here seems to want something from him. “The thing that makes me feel in conflict with some parts of this moment is that I like choosing when I’m out in front. And I’m more than happy to be on a press tour. I love it. I love going on a Jimmy Fallon — you walk out, you sign autographs, you do the whole thing,” he says. What he finds uncomfortable? “This idea that you’re a function here. Someone will go, ‘Hey, friend, want to come to this guy’s house? Yeah, come over.’ And then you show up, and suddenly you’re there for, like, someone’s tequila launch and all of a sudden there’s a photographer and you’re like, ‘Wait, what are we doing here?’ And I think you get enough of those that you just want to bring your family as close as possible — or run to them.”

Powell was voted most likely to be a movie star in his high school yearbook, but his introduction to Hollywood came years earlier. At 13, the then-budding actor snagged a small role in Spy Kids 3, a local production being directed by fellow Texan Robert Rodriguez. It was, by all accounts, an out-of-body experience for a boy who’d walk around with a video camera perpetually dangling from his neck. Still, it was Powell’s second experience — being cast on Endurance 2, a Survivor-style competition series on Discovery Kids — that arguably proved more transformative.

“Glen from Austin, TX,” which is how an earnest, still-prepubescent Powell is ID’d in the premiere, fails the first physical challenge and gets kicked off in episode one. Even the retelling has him wincing. “I mean, it’s the most embarrassing thing that can happen to a freshman in high school. Not only are you the runt of the grade, but you just failed on a strength performance thing in front of the world, and the amount of shit that I got was extraordinary,” says Powell. He didn’t let it sink him, however. Even as a kid, he remembers thinking, “I’ll show them,” and he quickly bulked up, giving him both a surge of confidence and a leg up athletically. “It made me just ferocious, like, ‘I’m going to become the strongest mother-fucker ever,’ and weirdly more dialed-in in every aspect of my life.”

While still a senior in high school, he had his mom, who once worked in the Reagan administration, drive him all the way to Shreveport, Louisiana, to audition for Denzel Washington’s 2007 film, The Great Debaters. Overeager, Powell wore a tuxedo to the first table read, where he knew his lines and pretty much everybody else’s. Washington was impressed enough to hire him as a Harvard debater and, later, to introduce him to his agent, Ed Limato. At the time, Powell had no idea who Limato was, much less that he’d repped everybody from Mel Gibson to Richard Gere. But he was so touched by the nice things he’d heard Limato say, including that Powell reminded him of a mix between William Hurt and a young Gere, that he wrote him a thank-you note after filming had wrapped and he’d settled into his first year at the University of Texas. Then one day, when Powell was back in the dorms, Limato called. He was hoping Powell would be coming to L.A. for the premiere. He wanted to meet and discuss his future.

“I’ll never forget it. I sat down with him and Denzel, and it was quick. Ed goes, ‘You should move out here and give this a shot.’ He’s like, ‘This shit doesn’t happen overnight, but you should take the plunge,’ ” he says of a conversation that he’s replayed over and over in his head. Washington, who has since joked that Powell owes him his career, gave his blessing. “He’s like, ‘This guy’s discovered everybody; don’t run from this, Glen.’ “

So, he wrapped up his freshman year and headed west, moving in with a family he knew through an uncle back in Texas. In exchange for driving around their son and coaching his sports teams, Powell stayed for free in their sprawling Holmby Hills estate. In between, he’d go out on auditions, this time as an official Limato client. To this day, Powell keeps an old screengrab of Limato’s IMDb roster. “It was the most legendary actors, like, number two, five, six and eight on the star meter,” he says. “And then there was me, at like 68,000 or whatever it was, probably lower.” (If you’re wondering, Powell’s now No. 15.) But very little came of the period. Hollywood was in its Twilight era, and he regularly found himself up against brooding, edgy types in beanies, chains and leather jackets. In his polos and boots, Powell never quite fit in. “And I could just feel I was letting Ed down,” he says.

In time, the Holmby Hills couple decided to divorce, and Powell moved into somebody’s garage in a seedy area of Van Nuys. “It was all those clichéd things where, like, they’d find a body a block away and then you’d come home to your tires slashed,” he says. Still, he kept at it, auditioning relentlessly. He even got another shot at Friday Night Lights, which he’d read for a number of times early on in Austin. Powell was older and arguably wiser now, and he had the advantage of having played high school football in Texas. It was his to lose, and he blew it. “I just remember walking back to that garage after, thinking, ‘This is where you’re going to live for the rest of your life, you loser,’ ” he says of a chapter he typically glosses over. “I had to really look at myself in the mirror and say, ‘I know you love movies, and I think you’ve got good instincts, but you may not be an actor.’ “

At one point, even Limato had him explore another path, lining up an internship with producer Lynda Obst. “I honestly think Ed just wanted me off his back because I was so intense,” says Powell, who’d read every script his agent sent the minute it arrived and often had opinions. Then Limato’s health took a turn, and, in the summer of 2010, he died. Powell was a wreck. “That was my lifeline, the guy who believed in me, and because he stood out in front of me, everyone in town would be like, ‘Ed’s rarely wrong, maybe there’s something we’re not seeing.’ And it was almost like once he passed away, the jig was up.” Not long after, the agency dropped him, and, for a stretch, he set up a fake company and represented himself. When that didn’t pan out, Powell started putting projects together, optioning material and writing scripts of his own. Glee‘s Chord Overstreet, who was his roommate for years, would routinely come home to find the living room transformed into a writers room for any number of Powell’s ideas. There was one was about a former frat brother who was kidnapped during an initiation trip; another was a wacky high school musical. He even sold a few.

Then, little by little, acting gigs came. First it was Expendables 3, then Oscar nominated Hidden Figures and Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!!; in between, he flexed his comedy chops as an elitist frat boy in Ryan Murphy’s Scream Queens. Eventually, Powell scored his first leading-man role in the rom-com Set It Up, though he’d had to convince the producers to let him so much as screen test opposite Emilia Clarke. (They’d wanted Zac Efron.) Then Clarke dropped out to do the Han Solo film — another project Powell got close on but didn’t land — and the whole thing almost fell apart. At his urging, Zoey Deutch stepped in, and the 2018 entry became a surprise hit for Netflix. People who didn’t used to return Powell’s calls were suddenly saying things like, “Hey, man, we got to get together.”

By the time Powell was invited to test for the role of Goose’s son, Rooster, in Top Gun: Maverick, he was convinced he’d finally figured out how to nail an audition. It had come down to Austin Butler, Nicholas Hoult, Miles Teller and him, the vanguard of Hollywood’s next generation. Then Butler dropped out to do Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and four became three. Powell had never wanted a part so badly in his life. In fact, he’d already put in time at two different bases, immersing himself with real-life pilots.

If you’ve seen Top Gun: Maverick — and with a $1.5 billion box office, it seems safe to assume you have — you know the part went to Teller. The news came as a major blow to Powell. Certain he was landing it, he had a buddy filming him in an American flag tank and aviators as he took the call from director Joseph Kosinski. “Not getting it was so wounding to me that I was like, ‘Oh, I care too much,’ ” says Powell, who later posted the soul-crushing image for his 1.6 million followers on Instagram. The producers offered him another role, but he wasn’t interested in the character as it was written. “I wanted him to be reminiscent of Val Kilmer [who played Iceman] — a guy who was having fun saving the day,” says Powell, who believes that what differentiates him as an actor is his ability to have a good time onscreen. “But I read the script, and I didn’t like this guy. He was just a dick, and he wasn’t even a good pilot.”

Cruise wouldn’t give up so easily. He urged Powell to come back in, and the two talked at length about the kind of career he wanted. “Man, yours,” Powell told his idol. “I’m working to try to be you.” But Cruise doesn’t just pick great roles, he explained — he picks great projects and then he makes the roles great. In some box in his new house in Austin, that nugget is scribbled in Powell’s “icon wisdom” journal, which he’s been updating throughout his career. To date, nobody has garnered more ink in it than Cruise. It’s a reverence that his friends tease him about mercilessly, he acknowledges, though when I bring up the parts of Cruise that raise eyebrows — namely, his commitment to Scientology — Powell simply flashes that megawatt smile and refocuses the conversation on their shared, all-consuming love of the movie business.

In the end, the producers listened to Powell’s ideas, and he had a hand in crafting the character, Hangman, that he ultimately agreed to play. He also learned how to make and market a blockbuster under the tutelage of his hero. Then the pandemic hit, and Cruise refused to let the studio dump Top Gun on a streamer. He knew he was sitting on a hit, and he had the leverage to hold out for what amounted to two years. Meanwhile, Powell was going broke. “I’d never made any significant amount of money on a movie, including Top Gun, and I was depleting a bank account to a point where my accountant was like, ‘This pandemic cannot last much longer,’ ” he says, acknowledging that the decision to wait for a theatrical release was ultimately the right one for the movie and the business at large. “But Tom was already Tom; I was waiting for my life to change.”

In that time, he brought a Texas Monthly article, about a mild-mannered professor who goes undercover as a fake hit man, to Linklater, with whom he’d collaborated three times already. When their adaptation premiered on the festival circuit last fall, it was snapped up by Netflix for a reported $20 million. Outlets like Vulture ran stories titled, “If Glen Powell’s Not Already a Star, This Movie Will Make Him One.” Jon Hamm, another Top Gun co-star and one of Powell’s many industry cheerleaders, is, frankly, shocked it took this long. “If you look up the definition of a movie star, it’s Glen,” he says. “The smile, the hair, the tan, the muscles, and he wants it and he loves it and he’s good at it.”

The R-rated romp, Anyone But You, began with Sweeney, who says she enlisted Powell because of his presence on-camera and the consistent feedback about “how gracious and thoughtful he was” off-camera. Together, they lined up Easy A director Will Gluck and bet big on a theatrical release. “We had offers from every streamer, and it was guaranteed [paydays] and a much bigger budget, but Syd and I really have a very similar worldview about Hollywood,” says Powell. “We said, ‘If we make this on a streamer, it won’t have any cultural impact.’ And everyone was saying rom-coms were dead theatrically so we knew we could get hosed, but we thought, ‘Let’s take the gamble,’ because what if we could bring them back?”

He and Sweeney were both keenly aware of how difficult it is to get people to a theater. “It’s something we talked about all the time: How do you create an event and also justify that experience?” he says. “Even if it’s me taking my clothes off on the side of a fricking cliff, it’s like, you got to do some shit in here that makes noise.” The pair managed to make noise offscreen, too. At one point, every gossip site, from “Page Six” to Deuxmoi, was running items about an on-set romance between Powell and Sweeney. Complicating the rumors, or perhaps sweetening them, was the fact that Sweeney remains engaged to one of the film’s producers and Powell was just coming out of a long-term relationship with model Gigi Paris. The headlines only contributed to interest in the film, which is why both stars decided to just lean into the rumors, flirting their way through promos and press junkets. But Sweeney, who produced the movie for Sony, was more accustomed to the tsunami of attention than Powell.

“I kept coming back to something that Cruise had said, which was, ‘The world’s going to become really loud, and it’s your decision how much you turn up or down the volume,’ ” he says, “because the world did get really loud, but I didn’t know where those dials were. I was like, ‘I know we talked about this, but I don’t know how to work this console.’ Meanwhile, Sydney, through Euphoria, had been on this ride and she was like, ‘This is all good.’ ”

The movie came out over the holidays and started slow. Then, fueled by TikTok, it grew, and just kept growing. Powell felt the impact almost immediately. He’d walk into rooms and suddenly everybody seemed to be staring or, worse, discreetly snapping pictures. “I’m on the radar for the first time in my whole life, and it’s weird,” he says. “I mean, after Top Gun, a guy would literally be wearing a Top Gun shirt and I’d be talking to him, and it was clear he had no idea.” By March, he’d found the volume knob. Sweeney hosted Saturday Night Live and addressed the “obviously not true” rumors in her monologue, noting that her fiancé had helped produce the movie and was on set every day. “And I just want to let everyone know that he’s the man of my dreams,” she continued, “and we’re still together and stronger than ever.” Then she asked that the cameras cut to him, and Powell’s face appeared onscreen instead. This time, he was in on the joke. “It’s more fun once you understand where that knob is,” he says. “And I got to turn it up, and then I got to turn it down.”

The primary advantage of experiencing this moment at 35, and not 22, is that Powell has watched plenty of others navigate it first, beginning with Overstreet. In fact, he was by his best friend’s side when Hollywood reoriented itself around him and his Glee co-stars, just as he was there when the town moved on. “And none of it has anything to do with you,” Powell says of the lesson he learned then and regularly reminds himself of now.

But just because he’s seen the cycle of fame up close doesn’t mean that he’s comfortable moving through it. In fact, Powell increasingly has found himself questioning the authenticity of his relationships, be it his friendships or whatever attempts he’s made to date. (For now, the only one going home with Powell is his rescue dog Brisket, who, it seems worth noting, has 16,000 Instagram followers.) Retreating to Austin in a more permanent fashion was the advice of fellow Texan Matthew McConaughey. “He’s like, ‘Hollywood is the Matrix, man. You plug in and it’s all fake world,’ ” says Powell, who does a remarkably good McConaughey. “He’s like, ‘Then I go to Austin, and I unplug. It’s all real. Those are my friends, that’s my family, my actions matter there.’ And he’s right. If you’re here, you live in the Matrix all the time, there’s no separation of those worlds. And for me, especially as my parents get older and my niece and nephew are growing up, I want a separation of those worlds.”

So, Powell’s bought a house 30 minutes from his mom and executive coach dad, and that’ll be “home,” even if he logs more nights on film sets than anywhere else. As is, some combination of his parents and two sisters visit every project that Powell’s on, no matter where in the world he is. He suggests they’re a particularly rowdy bunch — people often think he’s exaggerating, he says, “until they see my mom, like, shotgunning beers in the fraternity house when I’m not there.” But they also keep him out of his head, and they make everything more fun. “I know we’re probably in his way sometimes, but you wouldn’t know it because he makes everyone feel loved and taken care of,” says his mom, Cyndy, who’s been an extra in most of his films.

The entire Powell clan turns up for his famous theme parties, too, which haven’t dulled with his rising profile. Instead, he approaches his days-long bashes at the family’s Texas ranch with the same enthusiasm he brings to film sets. “He’s like your favorite camp counselor,” says Overstreet, who references Powell’s recent neon rodeo, which featured a rousing game of Slip ‘N Slide flip cup. “But that desire for fun and life is not just a Glen thing. The whole family has that same bug — they want to make an experience of everything, and if you hang around them enough, you end up wanting to make an experience of everything, too.”

Powell had every intention of moving the party to Austin this spring, combining the Hit Man premiere and his induction into the Austin Film Society’s Hall of Fame with a UT graduation. “I kept telling my friends I was going to throw the grad party of the century,” he says. But then his career exploded, and he could only carve out time for two of the four courses he needs to graduate. So, Spanish and Early American History will have to wait till next year; in the meantime, Powell will squeeze in a proctored exam between his work commitments. He’s also invited his dean to the Hit Man premiere — it wasn’t so that he’d get an extension on his final paper, but, he teases, “I think it didn’t hurt.” I ask Powell why, at this stage, he’s even bothering. “I think it’s really important to my mom and it’s more of an emotional thing for me,” he says. “Plus, I’m so close, I can taste it.”

Before Anyone But You hit, Powell’s dance card was already plenty full; in the months since, he’s been deluged with new opportunities and seemingly everything that he has ever touched, including a Broadway musical that he’s currently writing, feels like it’s being fast-tracked. “That’s the funniest part about this moment,” he says. “I’ve worked really hard for a long time, putting things together and just trying to get them in shape enough for people to give a shit. Then you get to a place where people are just like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it,’ and suddenly you’re playing musical chairs with yourself. You’re like, ‘Wait, do I sit in all these chairs right now?’ “

It may not be exactly the path that Cruise or McConaughey paved, but, as his former Scream Queens boss puts it, Powell has figured out how to be a “movie star” for this moment. “And being a movie star was always Glen’s dream,” says Murphy, who tried to keep casting Powell as his star was rising. “He could have done any TV series, but he made it clear that he was chasing something. And I’d get a little mad at him, like, ‘What do you mean you’re waiting? What are you doing?’ But he was smart, and he was right.”

Looking ahead, Powell is as definitive about what he won’t do — pandering Oscar bait, for one, but also Marvel fare — as he is about what he will. In fact, in relatively short time, he has garnered a reputation for being picky, primarily because he’s passed on a handful of recent tentpoles, including a Bourne Identity update and the Jurassic Park reboot at Universal. “Jurassic is one of my favorite movies. It’s one of the things I’ve wanted to do my whole life. I’m not doing that movie because I read the script and I immediately was like, my presence in this movie doesn’t help it,” he explains. “And the script’s great. The movie’s going to fucking kill. It’s not about that. It’s about choosing where you’re going to make an audience happy and where you’re going to make yourself happy.”

When Powell and I connect again a month or so later, he’s crisscrossed the country a few times. He did Fallon’s show in New York, charmed some theater owners in Vegas and started to settle into the new place in Texas. “I think this is going to be good for my head, heart and soul,” he says by phone. He’s also lost the 15 pounds for that role, which has him weighing in at 175 … with days to spare. It was a lot of bone broth, for sure, but despite his threats, Powell was never going to give up — not on the diet, not on anything. In fact, he’s thinking maybe he can shed at least five more.

Posted by jen under Gallery, Glen Powell, Photoshoots, Press, Video
16 May

The Rise, Rise, Rise of Glen Powell

Photoshoots > Outtakes > Session 041

VANITY FAIRBetween Anyone but You, Hit Man, and Twisters, he’s seen all kinds of action.
When he was 19, Glen Powell made a bad decision straight out of an ’80s teen comedy: He threw a party in somebody else’s house in Beverly Hills without asking permission. Denzel Washington had recently cast him as Harvard Debater Number One in The Great Debaters and told him he had promise, so Powell had left the University of Texas at Austin and moved into a Los Angeles pool house belonging to a college friend’s mom. Powell was mannying for cash and self-taping auditions. Occasionally he’d land a guest spot on a CSI or Rizzoli & Isles thanks to the support of Washington’s late agent, Ed Limato, who used to say Powell was a cross between William Hurt and Richard Gere. Otherwise, Powell didn’t have much going for him—except access to a house in 90210. “I came from that college-party mentality where there are no boundaries,” he says. “Nobody gives a fuck about you in Hollywood if you can’t offer them something. I made a mistake and offered the house.”

You’ve seen enough movies to know what happened next. Seventy-five uninvited strangers flooded the party, the pool, and the main house. Then his friend’s younger sister came home. She evicted Powell on the spot, adding, in her fury, that he’d never make it in Hollywood. “She laid into me that night and rightfully so,” Powell says. “But I’ve probably been told, ‘You’ll never make it in this town’ more than any individual alive. The odds are so slim that people hand that quote out like candy.” Powell had to relocate out by the airport in hot, gusty Van Nuys. “I was like, ‘You know what? This is where you deserve to be, you piece of shit.’ It was like the worst hangover ever. But every major turning point in my time out here has always come from a hit in the face.”

Fifteen years later, Powell is reportedly the second most bankable young actor in the business, thanks to Top Gun: Maverick and the romantic comedy Anyone but You, with Sydney Sweeney, which TikTok turned into a $219 million global smash. This puts him behind only Timothée Chalamet. While Chalamet zigs with bilingual allure and boyish androgyny, Powell zags with all-American brawn, leavening it with goofball energy and southern charisma. This month, he nails a sly, chameleonic turn in Richard Linklater’s action comedy Hit Man on Netflix. And in July, he will recklessly court danger in Universal’s disaster movie Twisters. Powell recently had dinner with executives from the major theater chains. Like his flight instructor Tom Cruise, he’s got an old-fashioned conviction about putting bodies in seats, and the chains need him as much as he needs them.

Early one Sunday, Powell picks me up at home in a “big ol’ honkin’ truck” that a studio hooked him up with while he’s in LA. At the height of his career, Powell has actually moved back to Austin to be with family and friends. His parents are on the speakerphone when I get in the truck. They tell me they’re “just over the moon” that their son is based in Texas again, even if he’s invariably on some far-flung set anyway.

We stop by a flea market to look for furniture for his new place. Powell came here for years, but life is different lately: Even in a ball cap and blue jeans, everyone recognizes him. Before the move back to Austin, an Uber driver had turned into a stalker, a woman who’d never looked his way was now aggressively interested, and friends he’d known forever suddenly had scripts they needed him to read. “I literally felt like a commodity for the first time,” Powell says. “I started to think, This may be a problem.”

Powell got his first taste of attention overload while shooting Anyone but You in Australia, when paparazzi photos of him and Sweeney on the set were taken out of context to stoke rumors of an affair. It didn’t help that Powell had just broken up with his long-term girlfriend. Sweeney’s fiancé was a producer on the film—and present for the entire shoot—but the tabloids and social media ran with the story they wanted to hear. Powell tries to make sense of it all, even as he is stopped, almost comically often, by fans for selfies. “I went straight from Australia to Oklahoma”—to film Twisters—“and all that social media attention started happening as soon as I landed,” he says. “When you’re in Oklahoma, all that stuff feels louder because you’re away from your people. All you’re left with is your thoughts.”

“Excuse me,” says a young woman. “Can I get a picture?”

Powell happily agrees, and when she’s moved on, he continues: “At the end of the day, I don’t give a fuck anymore. At the time, I did give a fuck. I gave a lot of fucks. And it felt shitty and personal. I don’t think people realize that I am very sensitive because I am a guy that jokes about stuff. The gamification of this gig is that you basically have to—”

“Mr. Powell,” says a teenager in a golf shirt.

“Yeah?”

“Oh my gosh. You’re in Maverick, right?

“Yeah.”

“Can I have a selfie?”

“Yeah, of course. Nice meeting you, man.”

The boy’s mom tells Powell that they’re in LA for college tours.

“Where are you touring?” Powell asks.

“We’re touring USC tomorrow, and UCLA,” the boy says.

“Oh, that’s awesome, man,” Powell says. “Well, good luck at college. You’ve chosen the right state for it.” Then, to me, without skipping a beat: “It’s almost like creating a wrestler alter ego. It’s like you’re Bruce Wayne and Batman. Nobody has the full picture, so you have to be okay with them not having a full picture. It’s entertainment. I’m okay now with my personal life being part of the entertainment.”

When Anyone but You came out this past Christmas, it initially bombed. But over the holidays, the social media buzz ramped up. Videos of fans singing Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten” (the movie’s theme song) as they left theaters became a trend. Plus, the affair rumors resurfaced. “So we leaned in,” Powell says. In March, he even popped up on SNL when Sweeney was hosting to lampoon the speculation. “We leaned into the chemistry, we leaned into the fun, we leaned into all of it—and the movie benefited. The fun part with Syd was figuring out what’s going to be noisy and sticky. People talk about TikTok as a thing that is cannibalizing the theaters, and what we saw is that they feed into each other: It becomes more eventized and more fun. Glen, the person, would not have been comfortable with that a year and a half ago. Now I can put myself in a different place and be a character.” Audiences have loudly requested an Anyone but You sequel, and ideas are being batted around.

As we navigate the flea market, Powell tells me not to let him near anyone selling candles. He’s a sucker for them, particularly high-concept ones like Goop’s iconic This Smells Like My Vagina and the Saltburn keepsake known as Jacob Elordi’s Bathwater.

So we steer clear of candles. Instead, Powell buys some David Sedaris books to read on set, and we head off to brunch. The restaurant is filled with women in bandage dresses and high heels having bachelorette parties and baby showers. Soon iPhones start coyly popping up as people try to capture a movie star in the wild. This is why dating in the era of Deuxmoi is taxing. The week before we met, Powell left a comedy show and was walking next to someone he’d never even heard of. The internet immediately insisted they were dating. “People are creating constellations,” he says. “You look at the stars and you draw lines and create a picture. In the past I would’ve been like, ‘That’s not the right constellation. That’s not Orion’s Belt!’ And now you’re sort of like, ‘Oh, that’s fine. Let them connect the dots however they want.’ ”

Professionally, Powell’s life is at high tide. He’s heading to Cape Town to star in a revenge thriller called Huntington for A24, then there’s Edgar Wright’s remake of The Running Man for Paramount. Powell will presumably be in the mix for Top Gun 3, which is reportedly in the works, and is set to do a sports comedy series for Hulu in which he will play Chad Powers, an undercover superstar quarterback that Eli Manning created when he tried out for Penn State in a wig and prosthetics. After Powell collaborated with J.J. Abrams on the documentary The Blue Angels, there’s buzz that the pair will be reteaming for Abrams’s next movie, this time with Powell onscreen. With all these projects, I ask Powell how he finds time for himself—or for a relationship that isn’t a tabloid creation. “I don’t want to be that guy that wakes up 50 years old and didn’t let anybody along for the ride,” he says. “I don’t think it’ll ever be me because I look at my parents—and I want kids. I really want that. So I don’t think that’ll happen, but I understand how it could happen.”

Powell isn’t looking to emulate any particular actor’s career, though he’s grateful to have Cruise and Matthew McConaughey as mentors, and admires the way Matt Damon has handled family and privacy. Until then, he’s happy to be living close to his parents, sister, aunts, uncles, and cousins. In May, he’ll be presented with an award from the Texas Film Hall of Fame by his fellow Austinite, Linklater. “I got a plus-45,” Powell says. “The squad rolls deep. It’s going to be a party.” This time at his own house.

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