Everybody wants some Glen Powell


“I’ve got a bingo board of roles I want to play,” Powell says. It’s a literal grid that he keeps in his house in LA. The board is not tied down to specific roles so much as flavours of characters he’d like to play. If he was playing bingo, he’d be up and down the aisles quite a bit. “Twister was on there. Top Gun was on there.”

We’re in the prop house, a warehouse that looks like a cross between a gaudy antiques shop and the room of requirement from Harry Potter: shelves packed with old furniture that could be pulled from your grandma’s house but are actually priceless set dressing from classics such as The Maltese Falcon. “I’ve always wanted to play a senator or a president,” Powell says, standing in front of an exact replica of the Resolute desk from the Oval Office, built for the 1990s Michael Douglas romance The American President that later featured in The West Wing. (“No one talks about The American President,” says Powell, disapprovingly.) Other archetypes on the board include Patrick Bateman in American Psycho and Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver, an amalgam of which he feels he’ll hit in the A24 thriller Huntington, which is scheduled to shoot this summer.

As we walk through the halls, Tom points out the Iron Throne toilet, inspired by Game of Thrones, which is exactly what it sounds like. Powell gets childishly excited by the piano from Casablanca. “Casablanca is on the board!”

We walk past a bust from Lauren Bacall’s apartment in The Big Sleep. “I always find the coolest part about making a movie is you never know what one’s gonna survive the test of time,” Powell says. “Or when something small, like a bust, is gonna be held with reverence. You could make a movie and nobody gives a shit about anything from the movie. And then you make something and they hold it with reverence, you know?”

A man approaches us. “Hey, I’m Brent. Somebody said you were looking for me?” Brent, it turns out, was head of the art department on Top Gun: Maverick. On hearing this, Powell, who never got to meet him on set, starts to glow. “I’m so happy to meet you,” he says, giving him the same eye-contact-heavy handshake he gave me and Tom, with a little extra sauce. He raves about Brent’s work on the bar that Jennifer Connelly’s character runs in the film. “No one realises the level of detail when you actually go to these places.”

Top Gun: Maverick was almost one of those dreams that eluded Powell. He originally auditioned for the second lead, Rooster, but lost out to Miles Teller. “I got a call from [director] Joe Kosinski saying I didn’t get it. I remember that same sort of feeling.” But both Kosinski and Tom Cruise – who would star in and produce the movie – liked Powell, and wanted to make Hangman work for him. Initially, Powell wasn’t interested. The original Hangman, then known as Slayer, was not a good pilot, and had found himself at Top Gun as a result of nepotism. Powell didn’t think the character served the movie at all. “I said, ‘If I were editing this movie, I would cut him out immediately.’”

Imagine that, for a second: you’ve spent years watching life-altering parts slip agonisingly out of your grasp, then one day a real game-changer is handed to you on a platter – and instead of thoughtlessly grabbing it, you get out the red pen. Because you couldn’t just phone it in, even for the job of a lifetime. Powell understands that if the movie loses, everyone loses. Perhaps this is what Cruise and Kosinski saw in him: a preternatural understanding of high-stakes cinema, and the confidence to pull it off. “Glen really believes in himself,” Linklater says. “Not in a cocky way. He’s not afraid to put in the work to achieve whatever he wants. No shortcuts.”

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