Glen Powell’s star has slowly been on the rise over the last decade, working on films such as Dark Knight Rises, Set It Up, Hidden Figures, and Richard Linklater’s Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood. However, with his casting in Top Gun: Maverick, Powell has been launched into the stratosphere, gaining entrance into the big leagues.
But Powell almost turned down the opportunity that turned him into a supernova this year. In an interview with GQ, the actor shares he initially was going to pass on the offered role of Lt. Jake “Hangman” Seresin, as he was reluctant to take on a character he described as “dick garnish” and “Navy Draco Malfoy.” He had originally gone into the auditions with his sights set on Rooster, who would be played by Miles Teller.
“[Hangman] 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,” Powell says. “I didn’t know why he existed.”
It wasn’t until Tom Cruise, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, director Joseph Kosinski, and writer Christopher McQuarrie teamed up to convince Powell he could add depth and meaning to Hangman as a 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.”
Over his experience working with Cruise on the big-budget sequel, Powell says he walked away with a valuable perspective on filmmaking today.
“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. “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?”
Well, he’ll soon find out. On the horizon, Powell is re-teaming with Linklater for the action-comedy Hitman, where he will work as the film’s co-writer and star. He’s also set to star opposite Bridgerton’s Regé-Jean Page for the series adaptation of Butch And Sundance.