The Glen Powell Network

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.

23 Jan

Photos: Sundance Film Festival

The photo gallery has been updated with event photos and portraits from the Sundance Film Festival this past weekend, along with a few photos from a Golden Globes party Glen attended earlier this month.

Events > 2024 > Jan 7 | Vas Morgan And Michael Brown’s 2024 Golden Globe Awards Party
Events > 2024 > Jan 21 | The Vulture Spot At Sundance Film Festival – Day 3
Events > 2024 > Jan 21 | Variety Sundance Studio, Presented by Audible – Day 3
Events > 2024 > Jan 21 | IndieWire Sundance Studio, Presented by Dropbox – Day 3
Events > 2024 > Jan 22 | 2024 Sundance Film Festival – Netflix’ “Hit Man” Premiere
Photoshoots > Portraits > Session 017
Photoshoots > Portraits > Session 018

15 Dec

Glen Powell’s Hot Pursuits

Photoshoots > Outtakes > Session 040

BUSTLEThe famously nice star of Anyone But You isn’t afraid to fight for what he wants.
It’s been over 24 hours since Spotify Wrapped dropped, and Glen Powell seems to be the only person left on the planet who has yet to open his. Granted, he’s had some obligations that might have taken precedence over gazing at a personalized portrait of his own music taste: celebrating the holidays (at his old friend Paris Hilton’s #Slivmas last night), filming a Twister sequel (for which he’ll decamp to Oklahoma tomorrow), and promoting his latest film, Anyone But You (via photo shoots like the one we’re on the set of today). But because Powell is a famously polite, infectiously enthusiastic, self-proclaimed people pleaser, he’s willing to undergo this intimate ritual in front of me.

itting in a rented house in Laurel Canyon — with record-lined walls, vintage oriental rugs, and imposing wood beams — Powell whips out his phone. As the slideshow begins to load, I guess what Powell’s listening data will reveal. The actor, 35, is a proud Austin native and a Texas Longhorns superfan. He’s also a writer and film nerd, who instantly recognized Francis Ford Coppola’s lesser-known drama, Rumble Fish, when it came on in the background of the shoot. A soulful, introspective guy who’s not afraid to say things like, “The older I get, the more I look at my parents with awe at the fact that it’s really hard for love to survive 40 years in this world.”

So maybe Zach Bryan will clinch the top spot? Or he’ll endear me with some Lucinda Williams and Emmylou Harris?

Alas, the first song to be highlighted is “Unwritten,” by Natasha Bedingfield. Also known as The Hills’ theme song.

“I had to learn every word of this for Anyone But You,” Powell insists as the song blares off his phone. (I can confirm it is one of the movie’s best bits.) “Oh God, that is truly embarrassing if it wasn’t.”

Exposure to soaring, feel-good anthems is one of the hazards of being America’s current Top Rom-Com Guy. His big break was Set It Up, the 2018 Netflix movie that inspired countless think pieces saying that the rom-com was back after a long drought. After that, Powell was cast in Top Gun: Maverick, which inspired countless think pieces about how Hollywood was back post-pandemic. Now he’s in Anyone But You, a modern take on Much Ado About Nothing out Dec. 22. Co-starring Sydney Sweeney, whom he was briefly rumored to be dating (he’s not), it’s a classic enemies-to-lovers tale that sees a pair of arch-nemeses reunite at a destination wedding, where they pretend to be a couple.

But you will not hear Powell dissing romantic comedies, as The Kissing Booth star Jacob Elordi did recently. That’s partly because Powell is a scholar of the genre. He grew up watching The Wedding Singer with his two sisters, who teased him for sharing a name with the film’s villain, Glenn Guglia. (“When you look at movies, Glen’s always the asshole or the weird neighbor. I’m like, ‘God dang, man.’”) One of his first jobs in the industry was working for one of Hollywood’s most accomplished female producers, Lynda Obst, who was responsible for Flashdance, Sleepless in Seattle, and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. He started off as her intern, then was promoted to script reader, where he provided feedback on the many, many rom-coms that came across her desk. He became a student of the Hollywood system, understanding what makes a good script and what he had to offer to one.

So years later, when he discovered a rom-com that he knew checked those boxes, he didn’t care that the Washington Post had recently declared, “The rom-com is dead. Good.” He put his all into landing a role in Set It Up. (The movie was also the breakout for writer Katie Silberman, who went on to be Olivia Wilde’s go-to screenwriter. Powell and Silberman are still close. “I just talked to her last night,” he says.)

“I chased Set It Up so hard. I was working with the same producers on a movie called Sand Castle, but they didn’t really see me in the role [because] I don’t think anybody in my life would summarize me as a dick. I try to treat people well.” Powell’s executive assistant Charlie had to be cocky enough to represent his high-powered venture-capitalist boss, but kind enough to be an eligible match for Harper (Zoey Deutch), a far more earnest assistant. Powell says that the aggression he brings to set compensates for disposition: “As an actor, I am best on my front foot and I think that sometimes feels dickish on screen.” Meanwhile, Powell’s natural sweetness is what makes you root for Hangman, his Maverick character, in spite of his douchebaggery.

“I always liked masculine characters that took a punch, got back up, would bleed, and still fight. I always found that the characters that I liked were not necessarily the most badass characters on screen but guys like Harrison Ford or Kurt Russell,” says Powell, whose filmography is littered with military men, including John Glenn in Hidden Figures. (A rare, good Glen.) While making that movie, Powell says, “I went to a baseball game with Kevin Costner. He told me, ‘Choose the roles carefully, because at the end of the day, people sometimes can’t discern between who you are on the screen and who you are outside the screen. So make sure those two things line up as close as possible together.”

Powell’s magnetism is not what one might call “effortless.” His charm is dogged and earnest; it lies in the care and exertion he puts into every facet of his life. It’s there in the way he humors everyone on set by talking to them about their own Spotify Wrappeds, in the obvious work he puts into his eight-pack, and in his 20-year pursuit of this moment. “Hollywood, for some people, it serves it up,” Powell says. He mentions Charlize Theron getting discovered by an agent while arguing with a bank teller. “It’s not my path. I had to kind of fight a little longer and harder for it.”

Alongside Powell on the journey were his parents, with whom he is very close. His father, Glen Powell Sr., recalls the roller coaster of emotions that he and Powell’s mother, Cindy, felt when their son lost the role of Rooster in Maverick to Miles Teller, and then found himself in contention for another part in the project. They were driving up to Glacier National Park on a wedding anniversary trip and talking to Glen on the phone when he got the news. “He said, ‘Tom [Cruise] is calling. I got to take this.’” But Glen Sr. and Cindy were about to leave cellphone range. “So we pulled down and we found a place before we crossed over into Canada and sat alongside the road for about an hour,” says Powell Sr. “Then he called us and he goes, ‘I’m going to do Top Gun!’ I mean, [we were] literally, on the edge of the road and on the edge, but you never stop being a parent.”

John Stamos, who befriended Powell after filming a shower scene together on Scream Queens back in 2015, says that Powell has also long had many cheerleaders in the industry. “We’re all just like, this guy’s going to be the biggest star. It took a while, and then he did Top Gun and we thought, ‘Oh great.’” But Top Gun: Maverick began filming in 2018; it would be another four years before the movie came out. “It was starting to get like, ‘Oh sh*t, are we wrong about this guy? We can’t be wrong. He’s too f*cking talented. He’s too handsome. He’s too nice.’ And I’m glad to see that we weren’t.”

When Stamos took his family on a trip to the Powell family ranch in Texas, he learned that Powell takes throwing parties as seriously as his career. “Every day there was some theme party with 20 to 25 people, and when we got there it was ’80s day. I go, ‘I am the f*cking ’80s. Why do I have to dress up?’ But anyway, we’re out on this pier by a lake and the dude walks up, tackles me, and throws me into the water. I’m like, ‘Why?’ He goes, ‘Welcome to Texas.’ I’m like, ‘Go find my sunglasses.’”

Back in Laurel Canyon, Powell and I make our way through the backyard, up a set of stairs carved into a hill, to the house’s on-site music studio. They’re treacherous for a reporter wearing heeled loafers, and he springs to action assessing the terrain, then hovering behind me, advising me on the best route. Later, when he finds me standing too close in the road to a sweeper truck, he gently taps me on the shoulder and advises me to join him back on the sidewalk. None of these gestures feels showy or patronizing.

Powell, who broke up with his longtime girlfriend, Gigi Paris, this spring, grows slightly wistful when talking about relationships. He’s enjoying many of the fruits of what he calls having been “relentless and ruthless up until this point in my career.” Particularly, that he can now get writing projects of his, like the forthcoming Hit Man, which he co-wrote with Richard Linklater and stars in, off the ground. But he sounds a little like Drake at his mopiest when he elaborates on how lonely it is to be single and famous. “I’ve been talking to some people in my life and they’re like, ‘Glen, you’re a single guy. I know you’re trying to do all the right things in all the right ways, but you just have to embrace that those failures will be a little more public, a little more hurtful than maybe most people, maybe a little more embarrassing, but it’s OK. But when you’re going to fall, and you will inevitably fall in love, it’ll work,’” he says. Powell is not on Raya, and he says the only person he’s sharing his bed with these days is his rescue dog, Brisket.

When I mention to Powell’s dad that it can’t be all that hard for Glen Powell to get a date, he’s not blind to the irony. “[He’s] coming from a different angle, a different experience in life,” says Powell Sr., chuckling. “It will happen, for sure, but it’s a hard thing to see from his perspective. It’s hard [for him] to know what’s real, what’s not.”

It’s clear, talking to Powell, that he isn’t just a student of the rom-com as a film genre. He also thinks the pursuit of love is a serious, worthwhile subject matter. “There’s this study where they were talking about the difference between cornerstone and capstone relationships. Cornerstone relationships are where you get married young and you grow together so the relationship is the cornerstone of that. Then there’s capstone relationships, where you become two separate strong people, and the marriage is the capstone,” he tells me. “They were talking about what is more viable in terms of longevity. And the truth is there’s no difference, right? Love is unpredictable and you don’t know what’s going to have an expiration date and what’s not.”

Powell Sr., who is an executive coach, also gets in on the relationship analysis. “Glen has always, in his relationships, asked me to do some assessments for him to better understand himself and how he’s wired, but also for whomever he’s dating,” Powell Sr. explains. The actor’s goals are “to be honest with who he is, what his strengths are, where some blind spots might be.” “But not everybody’s open to that,” Powell Sr. adds.

Recently, Powell was invited to a celebration of the Tuskegee Top Gun in Washington, D.C., where his parents lived when they were dating — and where his dad proposed to his mom during their weekly picnic at the Jefferson Memorial. And the event just happened to coincide with the 40-year anniversary of their engagement. Powell couldn’t resist. He brought them along. He served as photographer for the moment when his dad got back down on one knee. He posted his own photo, beaming in a selfie with the pair after his mom said “yes.”

“It’s really fun to see your parents be romantic,” he tells me. “I know that sounds weird, but they’re goofy and really fun.” He says his parents tell him that’s the key to a lasting relationship, making sure to enjoy each other, finding the humor even in the dark stuff. “If I could have what my parents have, I’d be really, really happy.”

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