VANITY FAIR – The director and Glen Powell team up for this noir action-comedy based on a true story about a man with many personas.
Texas Monthly’s October 2001 piece “Hit Man” found an immediate fan in writer-director Richard Linklater, captivated by the story of Gary Johnson, a supposed contract killer in Houston who was actually working with law enforcement. The colorful piece by Skip Hollandsworth portrays a man who was a master of disguises and creating characters in order to convince his clients that he was a cold-blooded killer for hire. “I love this character, but I wasn’t sure of the movie,” Linklater, a Texas native, tells Vanity Fair. “We’ve got a great character, great incidents, great moments, all these great characters, but I didn’t know if it really went anywhere.”
Linklater, who previously adapted another Hollandsworth article into his 2011 black comedy, Bernie, starring Jack Black, loved the strange, funny situations Johnson would find himself in, but he wasn’t ever able to figure out a third act for the story. “I’d had meetings on it over the years and stuff, but it just never really went anywhere,” he says. “It just didn’t cohere as a story.”
Then, during the beginning of the pandemic, his friend and Everybody Wants Some!! star Glen Powell asked him if he’d ever heard of the “Hit Man” story in Texas Monthly. They started spitballing ideas and had their epiphany: The story could go a new, fictional direction based on a small moment toward the end of the article. Finally, they had their third act, and built a genre-bending film that is at times noir, comedy, romance, and thriller. And with a complicated character at the center of it for Powell to dig his teeth into as a leading man, Hit Man also explores deeper themes. “It seemed to be all about identity,” says Linklater of Hit Man, which will debut at the Venice International Film Festival on September 4. “He’s playing these characters, he’s undercover. Who is he?”
“In law enforcement circles, he is considered to be one of the greatest actors of his generation, so talented that he can perform on any stage and with any kind of script,” Hollandsworth writes in his article. He describes Johnson as a chameleon who is able to shift his characters based on the type of client he’s meeting. The sting was simple: Johnson would meet with a potential client and get the client to verbally confirm they were hiring Johnson to murder someone. Their entire conversation would be recorded, and used as evidence. After Johnson left the meeting, the client would be arrested.
For Powell, who cowrote the script with Linklater, the dark comedy, which is set in New Orleans, was an opportunity to play a character who was often playing a character. Sometimes “there was just a whole blurry line between Gary and Ron, which increased over time,” says Linklater.
In the film, “Ron” is one of Johnson’s personas that he uses when meeting a potential client. He’s Ron when he meets a beautiful woman (Adria Arjona) who wants her controlling husband killed. But Gary feels sympathetic toward her, and advises her to leave him rather than have him killed. From there, Gary—still pretending he’s Ron—is pulled into a complicated ruse when he continues to interact with the woman and their lives get more and more entangled.
Ron, a charismatic, confident man with a dark side, couldn’t be more different than Gary, a mild-mannered teacher in his real life, when he’s not moonlighting as a cold-blooded killer. “Glen, the thorough professional he is, was reading books on body language and he thought Ron would walk a little different than Gary, and he also had a lot of fun with the accents,” says Linklater. “Every movie needs something that’s kind of difficult to pull off or something that seems especially challenging.”
As research, Linklater and Powell listened to the recordings of Johnson’s sting operations, meeting a cast of unbelievable characters who felt almost too strange to be real—and perfect for film. “We could have done a lot more of those,” says Linklater of capturing the wide range of clients hoping to take out a hit. “There’s an alternate movie that’s just all these people at that moment. These rich society ladies, with their nice dresses, sitting down in a nice hotel room talking about how to kill their rich husband they’re sick of.”
Linklater found the conversations fascinating because the clients were having these life-and-death discussions “so matter of factly,” he says. “It’s almost like they’re all acting in their own little crime movie when someone’s suddenly working with a mobster. I thought it was all so dark and funny in the strangest way.”
Linklater was also able to speak with Johnson on the phone while working on the script. For being an undercover hit man, he was surprisingly well-known, attending court proceedings and being featured in news articles. “It was like two different worlds,” explains Linklater. “People that are doing the hits aren’t reading the paper.”
Linklater describes Johnson as “the chillest dude imaginable” who had no issues with his story being told in a film. “He was just the most nonplussed guy,” he says. “We would talk about baseball or something, but he was a man of few words actually.”
When Linklater was about to start filming, he tried to reach out to Johnson again to let him know it was finally happening. But when he couldn’t get in touch with him, he found out from Hollandsworth that he had died.
But Johnson’s story lives on, even as fiction. With Hit Man, Linklater is able to go beyond a quirky framing device to look at how one individual gets lost in the many personalities he takes on, and may be able to change for the better because of it. “How much can we change? Can you change? Are we fixed as people?” says Linklater. “At times, I felt I have changed a lot. No one seems to notice.… But I think that you kind of can change. You can be better. It’s worth trying at least.”
Hit Man will debut at the Venice International Film Festival on September 4 and the Toronto Film Festival on September 11. It is currently seeking US distribution.
Written by jen on September 01 2023
Written by jen on July 25 2023
Order your print copy of the issue for the entire article at the Nobleman Magazine website.
NOBLEMAN – With a sharp grin and a sense of humor as dry as the air in this beautiful Bel Air mansion, Glen Powell enters the room. He is contained, but yet still abounding with life. The Texas-born Powell has been steadily climbing into the screens since 2016. But as of late, he has solidified his stake in our hearts with his role as “Hangman” in Top Gun: Maverick, the resurrection sequel to the iconic 80’s film Top Gun.
Glen Powell showed up to the shoot looking the best out of all of us. “Style is deliberate”, he would later tell us. “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. How I dress shows how much I care about it.” This is one of the many glimpses of his humility and thoughtfulness. He shows immense intentionality in all he does. Glen is more than just one thing, he truly is a Renaissance man. He can put on any hat and have you admire how seamless the transition would be.
The beautiful Bel Air estate we found ourselves sharing moments with was a perfect reflection of Powell himself. The subtle and strong mix of modern architecture swirled together with the nostalgic whispers of the past. The hand-in-hand combination of complexity and comfort. You can feel the same way when you meet with Glen, taken back by how he commands a room but also how he makes you feel like the only one in it.
As we sat with him, he held nothing back in his answers. Made thoughtful and authentic quips, and was genuinely excited to be with us like we were a part of the Powell family sitting by a fire at his family’s ranch. Powell tells us behind-the-scenes stories from Top Gun: Maverick, as well as gives a look into what’s coming next for him. All mixed with reminiscing about his family and travels.
How would you define a NOBLEMAN?
Glen Powell: I’ve always been attracted to people that are kind of unapologetically passionate about everything. When they like something, whether it’s traveling, cars, watches, or even sports. If you’re passionate about it, it’s cool. I always find that passionate people are always the most interesting. Their passion usually results in having the most style, and being wise because they’re curious about the world.
Has there been someone in your life that had that passion in a field that helped inspire you to be where you are now?
I instantly think about my parents. They were always supportive and let me be a little lost in life. Growing up, I always had an interest in all sorts of different things. If I wanted to play a sport, or if I wanted to play an instrument, or whatever, they let me follow my passions. I feel like it resulted in becoming good at a lot of different things and knowing a little about a lot. You just become more curious about the world and nothing seems scary. I remember my parents would put me in a room with people who are really accomplished. Just so that I would be able to converse with them.
One of my favorite things my parents did growing up is they would book the beginning of a trip and the end of a trip, and everything in the middle was an adventure. Our vacations were all about discovering new places and cuisines. It was all about chasing whatever you wanted to chase. You wouldn’t get locked into an itinerary, like during the trip you would actually find what was the most interesting thing to you throughout that trip and it made the world so much more exciting. You were getting dragged around by your parents in some random city. But you were empowered to chase it rather than just experience it.
It’s good to keep it a little loose. It did feel a little crazy sometimes, sleeping in cars or a barn, but some of those times are the parts of the trip that you remember the most. Leaving room for adventure is important.
Give me a snapshot of your career, what have the last twenty years looked like?
It’s been a wild adventure, to say the least. I mean this whole thing has been something I desired since I was ten years old. I did like the sound of music when I was like, I dunno, thirteen years old. My parents showed up for every single performance. It was like 30 performances of that. They didn’t miss a single one. It’s been so cool bringing my parents to film sets and having them be a part of the journey. It’s a really special time in life.
Also, the fact that I’m getting to act alongside some of my heroes and be a part of movies that I adored growing up, is just beyond words. For example, I’m getting to make Twister right now, which was one of my favorite movies growing up. It’s just so surreal. Or even with Top Gun: Maverick, I almost didn’t do it. But it has changed my life in every way. So it’s hard to imagine what life would be like if I had turned this roll down like I originally did.
Written by jen on July 24 2023
Our first look at Glen in Hitman has hit the internet and the high quality still has been added into the photo gallery!
The film is slated to premiere out of competition at the Venice Film Festival, well as the Toronto International Film Festival in September.
Written by jen on May 04 2023
DEADLINE – Sony is determined to bring moviegoers back to comedies in theaters and they just dated their Will Gluck directed Anyone But You for Dec. 15.
The trailer dropped last week during the studio’s presentation at CinemaCon.
The screwball comedy, which stars Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell, follows two people who loathe each other so much — they can’t resist the other. The pic is set in Sydney and follows the two as they go on various vacation hijinks from falling off boats to getting big spiders down their pants.
Screenplay was penned by Ilana Wolpert and Gluck. Joe Roth produces with Jeff Kirschenbaum and Gluck. EPs are Sweeney, Natalie Sellers, Alyssa Altman and Jacqueline Monetta. Alexandra Shipp, GaTa, Dermot Mulroney, Rachel Griffiths, Michelle Hurd, Bryan Brown, Darren Barnet and Hadley Robinson also star.
The only other wide studio release on Dec. 15 is Warner Bros. Timothee Chalamet movie, Wonka.
Written by jen on May 01 2023
VARIETY – Amazon Studios has landed worldwide rights to the U.S. naval aviation documentary “The Blue Angels,” which is backed by production companies of J.J. Abrams and “Top Gun: Maverick” star Glen Powell.
The film, shot with Imax cameras, chronicles a year in the cockpit with one of the world’s top aviator teams, the Navy and Marine Corps flight squadron, through their intense training and aerial touring show. Abrams’ Bad Robot, Powell’s Barnstorm Productions, Zipper Bros Films and Dolphin Entertainment produced the project.
“This fascinating and layered documentary is wholly representative of the kind of work ethic, teamwork, and perseverance that goes into being a Blue Angel,” said Brianna Oh, Amazon’s head of documentary features. “We are incredibly honored to join this talented filmmaking team in bringing their story to audiences around the world.”
The film will play in theaters on a yet-to-be determined date before landing on Amazon Prime Video.
“’The Blue Angels’ will be the theatrical documentary experience of the year, and we’re thrilled to share it with a global audience,” said John Turner, head of documentaries for Imax. “Our partnership with Amazon Studios marks an exciting chapter for Imax as we reimagine how to broaden our original documentaries for a streaming audience. We’re grateful for the enthusiasm and support that the Amazon team has for the project. It reflects the infectious spirit that The Blues have instilled in millions of fans for 80 years.”
The film was directed and edited by Paul Crowder (“UFO”) and produced by Glen Zipper (“Undefeated”) through Zipper Bros Films, Mark Monroe (“Icarus”) through Diamond Docs, and Sean Stuart (“Challenger: The Final Flight”) through Sutter Road Picture Company. Rob Stone, Greg Wooldridge, Imax’s Megan Colligan and John Turner, and Dolphin Entertainment’s Bill O’Dowd and Emerson Davis served as executive producers.
“One of the most remarkable aspects of the Blue Angels’ story is their relentless pursuit of excellence. It’s a message that I think will be as inspiring to the audience as it has been to the filmmakers,” said Abrams, the co-CEO of Bad Robot.
CAA Media Finance arranged the film’s financing and brokered the deal. Dolphin Entertainment co-financed the film.