Glen Powell

Glen Powell

The Actor's Top Gun: Maverick Mystery

The Actor's Top Gun: Maverick Mystery

Glen Powell Cigar & Spirits

GLEN POWELL HAS CARVED OUT QUITE THE RESUME during his 10-plus years as a working actor in Hollywood. He’ll be the first one to tell you that the path from his home state of Texas to Los Angeles hasn’t always been rainbows and lollipops. Fortunately, there have been significantly more hits than misses (or missteps) unlike some other young Hollywood actors of his generation.

Glen’s been honing his craft ever since he arrived in Tinseltown, and he’s known as a highly skilled actor, and burgeoning writer and producer.

Glen was an essential player in the FOX horrorcomedy- slasher TV series Scream Queens in the mid- 2000’s. His film appearances have included roles in The Dark Night Rises and Expendables 3, and he starred in Richard Linklater’s coming-of-age comedy Everybody Wants Some!!

His portrayal of John Glenn in the 2017 Academy Award-nominated film Hidden Figures garnered him major looks. It wasn’t a gigantic role, but his performance was executed with star power in an important film. And it was noticed.

All of the above is well and fine, but 2022’s highly anticipated Top Gun: Maverick is set to go kaboom in May—for the film and for Glen Powell. He’s in the mix with a cast to die for: Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer, Jon Hamm, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly and Miles Teller.

Powell’s powerful audition for the film led him to a “secret” role in the movie. Along with a couple of other co-stars, he’s remained quiet about some particulars about his character.

Recently, we had the opportunity to chat with Glen about where he’s been, where he is now, and where he’d like to go.

You’re from Austin originally?
Glen Powell: Yes. I moved out to LA to kickstart this thing when I was 19 after my freshman year at the University of Texas.

Texas is an interesting place to start given that actors have to learn to navigate the rough waters of Hollywood. How did your background inform that?
I think one of the best things my parents let me do when I was a kid was to just try everything. I played a lot of sports. I learned you can keep getting hit in the face, but you keep getting back up. I think the key to Hollywood is having strong opinions. If you’re a sheep in this town, people can feel that you’re a sheep. I consider myself a sweet guy. I think I’m a nice guy, but I would consider myself very independent and strong-willed.

Your portrayal of John Glenn in Hidden Figures was very well received. What was your takeaway from working with a cast that included people like Octavia Spencer and Kevin Costner?
I’d say that Hidden Figures put me in the right headspace for the type of movies I want to make. I saw how the storytelling affected people’s views of their own lives, what they can be and how they can live. I saw that movies matter and really impact people.

Your performance definitely jumped out in terms of your presence and what you brought to the movie.
I appreciate that. I’m really proud of that movie.

Your dad took you to a lot of movies as a young boy and it made a huge impression. You’ve said that seeing Top Gun made you want to become a fighter pilot.You now have a have a pilot’s license, and you’re in Top Gun: Maverick with Tom Cruise. It seems you manifested your dream.

I feel like that’s been my career. I started drifting towards movies in a really cool way. I think with Top Gun, I knew it was coming down the line. I worked my tail off to become a fighter pilot well before that audition to make sure I was the guy.

There’s been some mystery surrounding your role. For a while, the studio didn’t even share the name of your character. Describe your character and how he fits into the puzzle of the movie?

My character is definitely supposed to be more mysterious for certain reasons. I would say that Hangman represents the swagger, the independence and the fun of the original movie. He’s a guy that loves flying jets, and he considers himself the greatest weapon the Navy’s ever produced.

It was a fun character to play, and I got to really develop the character with Tom [Cruise]. For me, I think the character is exactly what I’d want to play when I watched the first movie.

It’s kismet how it came together.

I’m over the moon about this movie.

I know we both have to be careful about what we say here. From which character in the original movie would you say Hangman got most of his DNA? [laughter]
I would say he’s a cross between Iceman and Maverick—their love child. Val Kilmer and Tom Cruise—a bit of a hybrid.

How do you feel the audience is going to react to what they’re seeing in terms of the buildup about the character? The mystery on top of the layer?
I’m trying to ground my character in reality and also build a character that is the wish fulfillment of a Top Gun sequel. While the stakes of a movie are incredibly high and the stakes become life or death, how can this character be having the best time ever? I think that’s really where I started with this character.

Top Gun is iconic and very much representative of the 80s: fun and dynamic.
The era of the first Top Gun had such a specific vibe. If we tried to do a sequel to that movie now, we would get slaughtered. You have to reinvent.

It all comes from Tom. He’s been such a great mentor. If we’re talking about heroes, that’s a guy that I’ve modeled so much of my career after. When you work with movie stars, most of the time they say the lines and go back to the trailer. They don’t really want to be involved. That dude
is in it every second of every day. He’s with every department, approving different things. He’s talking with the director of photography about the shots. He’s talking with the director about performance. We’re talking through scenes where I’m acting with him. He’s in it with you.

He has the reputation of being a perfectionist.
That guy never quits until the movie he sees on celluloid is perfect. He’s relentless. [laughter]

It’s refreshing to hear that he really reaches out.
Tom literally calls me, follows up and is like, “Hey, man, I hear you’re up for this thing. Do you want any help?” I talked to him the other day, told him about a movie I’m putting together. I was asking him about prosthetics, about prep and who he uses. I think that’s what makes Tom different. He’s truly one of the most generous people I’ve ever met.

You have a Tom Cruise cigar story.
I spent a lot of time on a sailboat during quarantine—flying and sailing. I sent a picture to Tom of me and my uncle on the sailboat. He was like, “Man, I really want to get a sailboat.” I put him on the phone with my uncle, and he was asking him questions. My uncle and I had both been smoking a Montecristo No. 2 in the photo. By the time we got back to my uncle’s place, there were Montecristo No. 2’s waiting for us. I thought it was a classy move, and it was a really cool thing because he’s interested in other people’s adventures and the small details.

The movie has an incredible cast. Did you have scenes with Ed Harris, Val Kilmer or Jon Hamm?
It’s stacked with legends. What’s funny about meeting Ed Harris, he played John Glenn in The Right Stuff , and I played the same role in Hidden Figures. He smoked that role. We’d never met before. Apparently, all my deliveries were going to his trailer. People just happened to be sending me really cool stuff like fighter helmets, hats and all this cool stuff. He kept seeing my name over and over, and he’s like, “Who is this guy? Man, why am I not getting any of this stuff?” Ed gave me a lot of shit about the gifts I was getting.

With Val Kilmer, it was just incredibly emotional to get to work with him. He’s such a special guy. He was so appreciative to be there and generous with his wisdom.

Jon Hamm has turned out to be one of my great buddies. On a movie set, it’s important to be able to decompress and watch sports, have a drink. Having a drink with Jon Hamm was one of my favorite memories of the whole thing. I loved the camaraderie of it. That friendship
really represents the camaraderie that can come from a movie like this.

It seems there was such a great culture during the filming of this movie.
The way they casted up the movie—nobody felt like an actor in this environment. Everybody lived it—so salty, so real. Ed Harris, Jon Hamm—these guys are like men. [laughs] You know what I mean? Hell, we were all living on this aircraft carrier for over a month. There’s nothing more immersive than that.

I think that’s the brilliance of this movie. You couldn’t fake it. I think everybody really took this job seriously, and everybody lived it.

These will be your “movie war stories” you can tell your kids one day.[laughs] Absolutely.

Circling back to cigars, you mentioned being a Monte 2 guy. Do you have any other go-to cigars, or any particular pairings?
Growing up in Texas, I would say my uncle Don is the one who got me into cigars. We took a family trip to Cuba not too long ago, and I really got to live the cigar and rum culture for a bit. I was hurting extremely bad by the time we left. We went hard as a family. [laughs] There was a lot of dancing, a lot of cigars, and a lot of rum.

How long were you in Cuba?
We were there for about a week. It’s a culture that really celebrates life. Anybody who knows my family knows they love to have a good time. The men and women, they smoke cigars, they drink, we dance—we have the best time together.

I wouldn’t say I’m strictly a Cuban guy. I’m trying to become more educated on it, but Montecristo is usually my go-to.

Do you like bourbon? What’s your drink thing?
I’ve really been getting into mezcal. I’ve been sampling a ton of different mezcals. Have you tried Dos Hombres yet? We interviewed Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston about their brand last year.

Yes. Aaron was the first guy who called me when my grandmother passed away. He’s just such a real human—a truly great person. As far as their mezcal goes, so many celebrities have their own tequila, vodka, gin, etc. I have to give it to those guys. They really put in the work to make sure that it wasn’t just a celebrity-endorsed product. They’ve made one hell of a mezcal. I drink it as well. I think it’s phenomenal.

They do it the right way. I’m sure that has meaning for you.
Right. If you’re going to half-ass it, just looking for a paycheck, there’s no point. If you’re really passionate about something, then do it right.

Absolutely. Last question. We frequently talk about legacy in our magazine. What would you like your legacy to be? Professionally or personally.
Wow, that’s a…

An easy question, right?
[laughter] Really. It’s early in the morning over here in California, and you’re busting out the hard ones. [laughter]

I would say there’s a magic in movies that got me into this business. I think if I can help people understand their own story in a way, help them to be more optimistic or push through something, that’s what I’m here for. I want movies to be fun and for people to have a blast. Hopefully, I can inspire some kid watching my movies do the same.

On a personal level, I want people to know that loving your family is cool. That loving your friends is cool. That living adventurously is the only way to do it. That putting good out to the world is the greatest privilege you can have.

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