The Glen Powell Network

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
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.


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


“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.

25 Jul

Glen Powell Covers Nobleman

Photoshoots > Outtakes > Session 037

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.

Posted by jen under Gallery, Glen Powell, Photoshoots, Press
12 Mar

Glen Powell Needs to Be Our Modern Rom-Com King

COLLIDERAudiences deserve a new face of the genre.
Two of the recurring concerns of modern cinema relate to the shortage of movie stars and romance. Certainly in the mainstream landscape, the superhero monopoly has nearly wiped out the power of the movie star and sexual appeal. All of our actors in mainstream movies have never looked prettier or been in better shape, and yet, the big screen has never felt more sterile. The kinds of actors that should be elevated to stardom are confined to the restrictions of the franchise they represent. During promotion for his new film Magic Mike’s Last Dance, a film that quenches the thirst for sexiness in movies, Steven Soderbergh asked “how are we going to make new movie stars if people’s primary motivation for going to the movies is the IP, not the actors?” To the detriment of adult-oriented audiences, movie stars have devolved into action figures, designed to be exceptionally fit but are lacking in any romantic draw. This crisis calls for the emergence of a modern Romantic-Comedy king, which is a genre that needs a proper revival on the big screen so it can pump some sexiness back into male stars. Enter, Glen Powell.

Glen Powell Has Leading Man Potential

The actor recently got the chance to exhibit his talents in mainstream cinema as “Hangman” in Top Gun: Maverick, and he proved his leading man potential. Powell is majestic in his figure, not to mention traditionally handsome and picturesque. It would be a shame if studios only chose to exploit his good looks and disregard his personality. In an ideal world, Powell would never get sucked into the plethora of franchises, but that is way easier said than done. There is nothing wrong with the draw towards leading men with a statuesque physique. The problem lies when that characteristic is exclusively fixated on for the purpose of selling merchandise as part of a line of superheroes. Unfortunately, for executives of comic book movie franchises, it may be a lost cause. Stars will continue to be sexless action figures as long as the profits roll through the door. This is where the void of a proper romantic male lead icon comes in.

‘Set It Up’ Showed That Glen Powell Is Perfect for Rom-Coms

Powell is still enough of an untapped resource to seamlessly slide into the role of a rom-com king. The 34-year-old actor broke out in the 2015-16 range with notable roles in the Fox series Scream Queens and Richard Linklater’s coming-of-age comedy Everybody Wants Some!! His breakthrough part in the latter is the Rosetta Stone to his potential mega-stardom. The part of Walt Finnegan, the hot-shot captain of the baseball squad and party-seeker, was written as the standout shining star, and Powell capitalized on it. He then starred opposite his Everybody Wants Some!! co-star Zoey Deutch in Set It Up, a rom-com for Netflix, and this is where the momentum churned for Powell to take over as the new face of the genre. What appeared to be a rudimentary story of hesitant lovers was viewed more favorably by critics and audiences thanks to the discovery of Powell and Deutch as romantic leads.

Glen Powell Could Breathe New Life into the Rom-Com Genre

Powell checks all the boxes of an ideal male face of rom-coms and ultimately, a true movie star. He possesses the innate qualities to traditionally appeal to all demographics. Movies targeted towards adults in the last decade have seemingly abandoned the idea of overtly appealing to a unisex audience. Powell is modern enough to attract newer audiences and keep rom-coms fresh, but still classical enough to make the genre feel like a refreshing return to the glory days. The genre is commonly relegated to streaming, partially because it has been limited as a pipeline for developing new stars. Only when familiar faces like George Clooney and Julia Roberts pair up for a film like Ticket to Paradise does the genre obtain a wide theater release, and succeed financially as a result. While he is still a relative unknown from the perspective of a household name, he has previously worked in a variety of genres, from an indie Richard Linklater hangout movie to action-adventure pictures like Maverick and his other 2022 outing, Devotion. In all of his performances, Powell has demonstrated a youthful bravado that could breathe fresh life into any middling romantic comedy. His Texas upbringing gives him that southern warmth that, generally speaking, satisfies the interests of both men and women.

This speculation regarding Powell’s promise as the new face of rom-coms has value, as it was announced that he would be starring opposite Sydney Sweeney in an R-rated romantic comedy by Will Gluck. While all details of the project have remained under wraps, this is a fantastic breakthrough for the genre and the betterment of adult-oriented studio pictures, with this film being made under Sony. With Sydney Sweeney being one of the actresses of the moment, this project could be a huge step in the actor’s rise to super-stardom. The Powell/Sweeney duo could be as huge a success as Powell/Deutch, although we’re still hoping that they will team up again for another rom-com!

We Need More Movie Stars and Rom-Coms!

It is not as though the fate of filmmaking rests on the shoulders of Glen Powell’s potential to emerge as the breakthrough rom-com male lead. However, the void in the film landscape that he is best served to fill is integral to the reclamation of movie stars and healthy depictions of sexuality on the big screen. In fact, the problem does not lie in the current crop of acting and movie star talent. Stars who emerged in the 21st century had the capability to sell a movie on the heels of their charisma, but they were swallowed up by the capitalist demands of franchise filmmaking. There is undoubtedly a reignited post-Pandemic movie-going audience that craves a traditional form of Hollywood entertainment, one that utilizes a star’s physical and personable appeals. Promising box office returns in 2022 for the aforementioned Ticket to Paradise and The Lost City are indicative of a desire for classical sensibilities, and the genre is ripe for a new star. Before he gets lured by the prospects of cape cinema, Glen Powell deserves to take the mantle as the next face of the modern romantic-comedy, and perhaps the future line of movie stars at large.

Posted by jen under Glen Powell
22 Nov

How Glen Powell Poured Jet Fuel on His Hollywood Ascent

Photoshoots > Outtakes > Session 036

GQThe Top Gun star is riding his old-world looks, new-school charm, and a few key pieces of advice from Tom Cruise to superstardom.
It’s a warm, early fall evening in New Orleans, and the cast and crew of Hitman, a forthcoming Richard Linklater-directed movie starring (and written and produced by) the actor Glen Powell, are just gearing up for a night that will stretch until 4:00 AM. To keep everyone fueled into the morning, Powell and his co-star Adria Arjona have paid for a visit from an espresso truck. After approaching the bright red truck and ordering a coffee through the window, Powell, dressed in the dark clothing he’s wearing for that night’s scenes, heads back towards the set. As he walks away, the barista, a wave of familiarity washing across her, poses a question to those still in line. “What was the name of that guy? The good-looking one in the shirt? I recognize his face.” A few moments later, it will dawn on her: “That was the friggin’ hottie from Top Gun!”

This seems to be happening to Powell more frequently, since donning a jumpsuit as Jake “Hangman” Seresin in Top Gun: Maverick. Not just getting recognized, which happens two or three times a day now, Powell says. But being almost recognized, which suggests something a little more interesting: that Powell is the sort of actor who is right on the cusp of being absolutely everywhere. (An Austin native and lifelong University of Texas fan, Powell recently approached UT legend and former NFL quarterback Vince Young to tell the QB that he was a fan, only to have Young give him a quizzical, confused look. Later, Powell opened up Instagram to find a DM from Young: “Dude, sorry, I realized you were the guy from Top Gun while we were talking.”)

If you were one of those who knew of Powell before he was friggin’ hot in Top Gun, it’s likely from one of the many well-played supporting roles he’s had in recent years: as one half of the enduringly likeable couple in the Netflix rom-com Set It Up; as a witty, cerebral 1970’s college baseball player in Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some; as John Glenn in the Best Picture-nominated Hidden Figures. But it was playing “Hangman,” an arrogant hot shot you’re not supposed to like but who’s so square-jawed and charming you can’t help but root for anyway, that subjected his Hollywood ascent to increased G-forces.

“It’s been night and day,” Powell says. “Things that have been passion projects for years and things that I really believe in, filmmakers that I’ve always wanted to work with, those things are just finding their way.”

Powell tells me this the morning after the late shoot, in the house he’s renting near New Orleans’ Garden District. Despite being “underslept and over caffeinated” on account of last night’s late shoot Powell looks good. With olive green eyes, a stone jaw, and dimples like creeks, Powell’s flavor of handsomeness is distinctly “American Hero,” which is probably why he so often plays one: Hangman, John Glenn, and, as of this weekend, naval aviator Tom Hudner in Devotion, a war epic about the incredible true friendship between Hudner and Jesse Brown, the Navy’s first Black pilot. “If you just look military, this shit happens,” Powell says.

Unlike Hangman, Powell is modest, and what he’s saying is only partially true. He’s having an extended moment, post-Top Gun, because of a drive and work ethic that is as boot camp-ready as his looks. Powell first came across the idea for Hitman after reading a Texas Monthly article about a cop working undercover as an assassin for hire, which he then brought to Linklater to see if the director would be interested in co-writing a script. Devotion was ultimately Powell’s doing, too. Years ago, he read a book about Hudner and Brown on a fishing trip. He then acquired the rights to the story, and is accordingly credited as an executive producer on the film. He says being a producer feels way more vulnerable than just being in the movie. “There’s something freeing about not being able to look at anybody else and go, Oh, the movie didn’t turn out,” he says. That’s the case when he acts. When he’s a producer, he says, “It’s like, the movie didn’t turn out because I didn’t make it good. There’s an accountability to it that’s exciting and scary.”

That Powell leans into the exciting, scary thing helps explain why, after years of increasingly solid, steady work, Powell’s acting career might be about to enter a new stratosphere. His is a calming charm, very “emotional support animal you’d enjoy having three to four beers with:” in our age of movie franchises, he is exactly the type of guy you want in your tentpole. It’s not just that he looks like someone who could land a plane in an emergency situation—he feels like someone who could. (He could, by the way: after his experience with Top Gun training, and a gift of flying lessons from Tom Cruise, Powell is a licensed pilot.) It’s a brand of charisma that makes him a truly good hang, both offscreen and, more importantly for his Hollywood ambitions, on it. “I come back to Clooney or Pitt or one of those guys,” says Richard Linklater, who, prior to Hitman, directed Powell in both Fast Food Nation and Everybody Wants Some. “Like, That guy, he’s a star, I might want to go hang with him for two hours, see what story he’s telling.”

His Devotion co-star Jonathan Majors sensed something almost mythic in Powell, a combination of factors that gives him “this alchemy of dreaminess.” That alchemy makes Powell fit to be a Navy airman, and makes him feel like a throwback to a type of leading man that is increasingly endangered in Hollywood—and that Powell just might become anyway. Majors was reminded of a line describing the protagonist of the seminal boyhood novel A Separate Peace: He didn’t walk. He floated. “Glen Powell definitely has that quality,” he says. “I mean, he’s infatuated with flight. [He played an] astronaut, pilot, pilot. There’s something about him—it may be an unknown part of himself—that yearns to be in the sky, that yearns to be up. Which is why he brings everyone else up. It’s really hard to have a bad day with Glen around.”

If Glen Powell is our next good old-fashioned movie star, it might be thanks to a semi-broken television in his childhood home. “The TV in our kitchen was a TV that my grandmother got for signing up for a bank account,” Powell tells me. It was black and white with four channels and, thanks to a broken antenna, perpetually broadcasting static. Powell discovered a solution. “If you stuck a fork in the top, it worked well,” he says. So he’d sit there, one hand spooning breakfast into his mouth, one hand holding a fork on top of the TV—a practice that taught him to appreciate the way blockbusters, like the original Top Gun, allowed viewers to lose themselves in the experience. “I grew up watching that stuff with such reverence and focus,” he says, dimples activating at the memory. “Because if I turned the fork a little off, I would lose the picture.”

That love of movies, paired with an all-American strain of ingenuity, would carry throughout his childhood. After watching Mission: Impossible, he bought a book that taught him how to make his own special effects. He rigged his own prop bombs, including a set of explosions that created the illusion of bullets hitting sand. He built dollies by taking apart skateboards, attaching PVC pipes, and using them to relentlessly film his friends. The charm was there early, too: Powell’s kindergarten teacher once told his parents that in 30 years of teaching, she’d never seen someone command a room like their son, predicting that he’d either be President or an actor. Nothing if not consistent, he would win his high school’s “Most Likely to be a Movie Star” superlative.

Though he had acting hopes, Powell was wary of going all in to prove his high school classmates right. He’d witnessed some actors who had been successful in Austin go to Hollywood, only to get “their asses kicked.” “They came back, and they were like a shell of their former selves,” he says. “I was like, I’m only gonna do this for fun.” Just having some fun led to a role in 2006’s Great Debaters, where the movie’s star and director, Denzel Washington, told the young Powell he was good enough that he ought to consider risking the ass-kicking anyway. So he moved to L.A. A few minor roles followed—Dark Knight Rises in 2012, and The Expendables 3 in 2014—but it wasn’t until 2016 that an opportunity matched up with his ambitions. That was when Powell went in to audition for Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some, a movie that follows a 1970’s college baseball team through the first aimless, hard-partying weekend of a new season. Linklater knew Powell from directing him in a small part in 2006’s Fast Food Nation a decade earlier. “He seemed kinda like a fraternity brother,” Linklater remembers of 2006 Glen. But when grown-up Glen walked into the room a decade later, the director barely recognized the kid he’d worked with, turning to his casting director and wondering, When did Glen Powell go supernova?

“He was just so charming and smart and funny and like, Oh my god, he is a man now,” Linklater remembers. “Not just any man—he was, like, the man.”

Linklater cast Powell as Walt “Finn” Finnegan, a smooth-talking but tenderhearted upperclassman, whom Linklater describes as the clearest distillation of what he was trying to convey in that movie: a group of jocks who come off a bit wittier, more intelligent, and more endearing than you might have expected them to be. Getting into character as Finn—a process that involved multiple weeks of the cast playing touch football and sleeping in bunk beds at Linklater’s ranch outside of Austin before filming even started—hipped Powell to a contagious way of acting, and being. “I’m trying to find more characters that made me feel the way that playing Finn felt,” Powell says. “The way he approached every interaction, whether he’s talking to his buddies or girls, he’s sing-songy, he’s just so fun and effortless.”

Being around Powell is also effortless and fun. “He’s all those things you wish you had or would envy, and yet he’s the guy you just want to be buddies with,” says Linklater, which you might expect him to say since he has, in fact, become buddies with Powell. Powell, meanwhile, puts it this way: “If a guy doesn’t feel like they want to grab a beer with you, I think it’s a problem. That’s what I try to find as an actor, I try to find those little intangibles.”

But it’s what Powell lacks, as much as what he has, that creates his gravitational pull. “He’s not trying to win,” says Jamie Lee Curtis, who shared the screen with Powell in the television show Scream Queens. “It’s not competitive. He’s just existing.” Jonathan Majors says Powell is one of his favorite screen partners he’s ever had, in part because of Powell’s sense of “gamesmanship.” “He can take a hit, give a hit, and stay with you,” he says. “It’s not a matter of ego. It’s a matter of compassion and empathy.”

J.D. Dillard, who directed Powell in Devotion, says Powell’s emotional depth helped him create a story between a Black and white pilot that went beyond the usual “we both bleed red” trope that so often defines the Hollywood version of the race conversation. “It’s not a best friend story, it’s really a story of mutual understanding,” says Dillard. “Really exploring the nuance of wanting to be there for someone who you are not used to being there for, something that Glen’s disposition was perfect for. Because there is the warmth and the earnestness and the wantingness and the willingness, but it’s tempered with frustration and some naïveté, and never to the point of looking like a fool.”

When I ask Octavia Spencer, who spent time with Powell while making Hidden Figures, if she can unpack what it is that’s so charming about Powell, she says that an actor’s likability comes down to their ability to master a wide range of emotion. “If they make you believe every character that they play, if they make you believe that that character is in peril, if they make you believe that that character is heroic, if they make you believe that that character is flawed, and if you believe all those things, you start to root for that character,” she says. “If you do your job well, you’re going to have a person that says, Every time I see that guy, I like him.”

In the wake of Top Gun’s massive success—nearing $1.5 billion in ticket sales worldwide—it’s easy to forget that Glen Powell almost wasn’t in it. He auditioned for the role of Rooster, which ultimately went to Miles Teller. Powell then read for “Slayer,” who would later become “Hangman” and who Powell was unimpressed with on the page, describing him as both “dick garnish” and “Navy Draco Malfoy.”

“He was there to add conflict to Rooster’s character, which is a good thing, but he wasn’t three-dimensional and he had no pay off,” says Powell. “I didn’t know why he existed.” But Powell says Cruise, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, director Joseph Kosinski, and writer Christopher McQuarrie all convinced him that he could craft and shape Hangman into a more well-rounded character. “It was a leap of faith,” he says. “In hindsight, I’m like, God, I can’t imagine if I missed out on this one, but it wasn’t so obvious.”

Even after joining the cast, he didn’t treat the set as a playground so much as a classroom, mirroring his onscreen role as Maverick understudy by trying to absorb what he could from Cruise—in the same way he had tried to learn from Denzel at the very beginning of his career. One lesson was about the balance between acting ability and pure bankability: “Studios love [those guys] because they don’t just make a movie for the sake of making a movie,” says Powell. “They make a movie so that they can keep making movies at a certain level.”

He learned other, subtler things, too. Powell remembers Cruise telling him that his character shouldn’t kick his feet up, because that type of body language, while normal in the USA, doesn’t play the same in global markets. It’s not that I need people to root for you, Powell remembers Cruise telling him about playing the arrogant Hangman, but I need them to love watching you. In some places in the world, this piece of body language will turn them off emotionally to your character.

Powell’s keeping all that in mind as he continues to develop and produce his own material.“To make movies on that scale, if you want to make a Top Gun: Maverick, with that budget, you have to be able to justify your value as a star, and your creative influence, to make sure that movie will play everywhere,” says Powell. He knows that if you lose a studio money, the studio remembers that, which makes it that much harder to get your next thing made. “That’s where studios trust Tom. They look at Tom and they go, Yeah, you know how to do this, go do it. I find that to be a really fun challenge. Do I have the ability to do that?”

He knows that the ecosystem is very different now than it was when he was growing up watching those icons. “The way Cruise became a movie star, I don’t know if you can still do that,” Powell says, noting that not a lot of studios are willing to take “big swings on normal movies like Rainman and Born on the Fourth of July.” But one way for Powell to ensure that Hollywood keeps making the type of movies he wants to be in is to go out and find (and sometimes write) those movies himself. When he went into production for both Devotion and Hitman, Powell says he had a moment where he wondered, why did I do this to myself? “I was like, I hope I’m a good enough actor to actually pull this off, because I wrote a whole movie where I said I can do this,” he says. “It starts expanding your belief in what you can do. The idea that you paint yourself into a corner I think is a healthy thing. I’m just trying to take those fun, big swings and do some stuff that I have a good time going to work, but I’m also a little scared.”

If Powell’s trying to keep himself scared, he’s also trying to keep himself sane, from being sucked into the “reality distortion field” that is Hollywood—which is why he’s grateful that his career spent some time taxiing out before fully taking off. “So many actors have this moment where you become a celebrity, and then you have to figure out the talent behind it,” he says. “I’ve had the benefit of this slow thing where it’s like nobody knows who I am.” Of course, Powell now finds himself at the point where people do know who he is. So I ask Powell, If you got a call tomorrow and the person on the other line said we want to make you Bond or put you in a Marvel movie, what would you say?

“Think about Daniel Craig,” Powell says, after a pause. “Daniel Craig is sick as James Bond. He did such cool stuff with that character. But you can also see from the outside, they’re offering him inordinate amounts of money and he’s like, I can’t do it anymore. There’s a certain point where there’s a trade off… My whole thing is, what is going to make you want to go to work every day?” For now, at least, he refuses to see Hollywood as a zero-sum game. “There is no finish line,” Powell says. “The finish line is to stay in the game.”

Today, he’s in the game, and having a good time doing it. Next week, his parents will come down to New Orleans to be extras in their son’s movie. He’ll also soon get a visit from a friend and old roommate who used to pose as Powell’s manager when his career was stuck in first gear. That his friends and family are visiting him on location provides a useful measuring stick for how far he’s come from those days when he was working just as hard, but seeing fewer results. “I’m happy to do what I’m doing now, which is nonstop: I work all night, I get up, I rehearse, and write and rewrite, and do it all again—that’s great, because I’m actually making a movie,” says Powell. “It’s the first time in my whole career, where I think I’ve felt like, Oh, shit. I think we’re gonna do this.”

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