G L E N P O W E L L
Interview} John Russo
Photography by} John Russo
Location} Santa Barbara, California
Grooming} Laly Zambrana
Styling} Ace Rivington
Produced by} Ken Waller Photohouse productions
JR: So the movie is finally coming out and I can’t even imagine the anxiety of the release constantly changing: It’s going to come out and then it’s not going to come out. Do you even remember filming it?
GP: (Laughs) It’s so funny, I was literally just yesterday, I was actually going through photos of the whole experience, and it was interesting what it unlocked, because memory is such an interesting thing, because while this wasn’t that long ago, what ends up happening with the release date pushing, is people will say oh what was it like to shoot the movie, and you just sort of kind of go, you focus on really specific things, like oh, the train, the Gs, you are actually in an F-18, things people actually talk about. You forgot that you trained with the U.S. Swim Team in order to pass “swim phys” and you had to hold your breath so that you could do under the helo dunker and live on a base for a long time and you are literally like yeah I wasn’t in LA for a while. I was literally in the Navy, you forget about these little things or being on the carrier, how long that was and little pictures like that that just unlock an entire part of this experience, it was like a year and a half of filming. So it does feel like forever ago, but it’s also interesting the sort of crew, the gang of all the young pilots and just starting to get to know Tom over this period. It’s kind of been wonderful in that respect that you go on a Press Tour and you just go hey we shot the movie and now we are promoting the movie, you shot the movie and you have lived life together, My relationship with Tom has evolved and he’s helped me develop other things and have really been like taking me under his wing in that way and now you get to promote the movie. I feel like I have grown to appreciate this movie in a different way because we have had that weird lack. You kind of come around the process in a different way.
JR: You play this hotshot flyboy named Hangman in the film, and I must say that you play these types of characters to the T. It’s like the roles were made for you. Why do you think casting directors see you as the perfect fit for these roles?
GP: That’s such a good question. I have no idea! That’s such a good question John. I am attracted to characters with confidence and people with confidence. I think in movies I have always admired people that are good at a job and have confidence in that thing, even if they are emotionally stunted or their lives are falling apart, the other very good at what they do. So I feel like I have been drawn to performances like that and I feel like I have been drawn to characters like that. Even a Tom Cruise role, Jerry Maguire, he’s a great sports agent, he is a nightmare of a human being. And I love that character because you really identify with people that are really great at their job but sacrifice other things for that. I think that’s part of who I am. Tom, I feel is like, when you are so disciplined in a job, in one part of your job, you feel like you are trying to spin plates and try to be everything to everybody. And I feel like to me, I can definitely relate to that and maybe Hangman has some of that DNA in him. That’s a really interesting thing. And I also feel like it’s also what people hire you as, when you are first in Hollywood, you kind of take what you can get. And I feel like I was cast as the cocky douchebag for a long time, that’s the only thing that people would cast me as. So maybe that is just what I became on screen, I don’t know. (laughs)
JR: So we have to talk about Tom Cruise, because who is not obsessed with Tom Cruise! He is such an icon. Obviously you working with Tom and meeting Tom and having this incredible relationship with Tom, has been such a win win for you across the board. Tell me how that experience was?
GP: Yes, he is truly, again, you have gotten to shoot some of the great heroes of all time and some of the people that we all look up to and admire and got in the business for. And it’s just really wonderful when a guy who literally since I was a kid, when I decided that I wanted to do this thing, has been one of my heroes, a guy that I modeled my whole career after. And you get to be in the trenches with him and learn how he thinks and learn why he’s the best, why he’s able to be at the top of his game for 40 years which is unprecedented. And he’s a one-man studio in that way, he really is a guy who knows every department and respects and listens to every department, but truly has an education that spans a 40 year career of really being so curious about everybody and everything, from development of a script and learning how dialogue can operate to the lenses to production design to costumes to marketing, he’s just so unique in that way. And so I think the thing that I have really taken away from this experience is just the Tom Cruise school of filmmaking and really just trying to be proficient, educated in every part of it, it’s just inspiring to be that charged up and that excited about making movies for this long is wild. So yeah, I can’t say enough nice things about Tom, I just love the guy.
JR: Do you think there is one defining film thus far in your career that changed the perception of what you can bring to the table?
GP: That’s a great question. I feel like Hidden Figures was probably a big moment for me. There wasn’t a whole lot going on in my life, I was kind of in my life just again, the funny douchebag from Scream Queens, the cocky guy from Scream Queens and I feel like Hidden Figures was a moment in which I got to play a real life person, a person with a lot of pressure on him but a man of character and a guy that had to operate, had a pivotal role in the ensemble of a lot of heavy hitters. So I feel like that was a really wonderful moment for me and a lot of people saw that movie. That was a movie where the little engine that could, nobody thought that that movie was going to be anything and then it really ended up kind of striking a chord with the world in a wonderful moment. And also to go to the Oscars and do all that stuff, I think it just is never a bad look.
JR: And this leads into a really good question. I feel like… and what a ride it’s been for you. Could you have ever imagined thinking back in high school what you were going to do with your life, that you would be at this incredible moment in your life right now? That must make you feel like fuck, wow, look at what I did. I am crazy proud of you as a friend, I am just like the biggest Glen Powell cheerleader ever, (laughter) but for you, it must give you a sense of pride and feeling good about yourself.
GP: Thank you for saying that. It’s really been amazing, especially with people like you, where you have seen different stages of this thing and it’s funny because again, I recently received the Star of Tomorrow award at Cinemacon, which I was really excited about and got to have my family and friends there. But the interesting part is when you are around people who have seen different iterations of what this career is and the ways in which this business can chew you up and spit you out really, really fast and your dreams can get checked really quickly and you never know where this thing is going to lead you, where you just kind of have to be grateful for every stage of this thing and wherever it goes and wherever it leads, but I will say I really appreciate you saying that because I have been doing some thinking recently, just trying to prepare for this next thing and just go man, for a guy who just loved movies at ten years old. And I just want to be in it, like I could be just the guy that has one line in the movie saying hey, do you want me to take groceries to your car or whatever, and you are like, you work so hard on this one line in auditioning, you are just trying to be a part of this world. And to be able to be a part of it at this level, to be able to work with my heroes, to be able to work on a movie that got me into the business in the first place, it’s something I don’t take for granted. I’m literally pinching myself, just trying to understand exactly that, which is dreams don’t always come true in this town, it definitely does not reward dreamers very often, (laughs) it’s very rare. And also I understand, people like you who supported me long before they needed to, so I am very grateful for all the cheerleaders in my life, but especially you, thank you.
JR: Thank you. So the film industry is constantly evolving and more than ever, creating films is much easier and accessible, more accessible than five years ago. Young filmmakers are filming features on their I-Phone and actors are creating their own vehicles and selling them to streaming services. Are you on board with this new approach to filmmaking and what are your thoughts?
GP: Yeah I think it’s great. I will say I really love the era that we are in, in terms of if you want to be an actor, if you want to be a filmmaker, producer, any of these things, the barriers to entry used to be so high. You had very few ways of putting these things out and therefore you kind of had to go through the old school channels of working your way up as an assistant here, you are the intern and then the assistant and the executive. You don’t need to do that stuff anymore and you can literally show, I feel like it’s an exciting time to be in this business. Obviously there is a content boom, everybody is looking for content and I think the opportunities for filmmakers are so much greater. But as an actor you kind of have no excuse. If you can film something and show people you can act and put stuff out there and that’s how it is happening these days. I had to literally cold call casting directors, I had to find their numbers, I had to email them audition tapes. The gatekeepers were much different back then and I feel like this new era that we are finding ourselves in, those gatekeepers can’t prevent you from what you want to do nearly as much. So I think it’s super exciting and also in each part of this business you have all these different ways in which you can make content for different mediums. Obviously Top Gun is IMAX camera, it’s big, it’s cinematic, that’s a theatrical experience. That has prevented in terms of, nobody is going to pick up an IMAX camera and shoot Top Gun, that requires an army of people and experts and it’s unprecedented in terms of this business. But you can tell a compelling, emotional, gripping story with an I-Phone, you can totally do it. And you can show people that you can be a great actor. So I honestly just think it’s an exciting time to be in this business.
JR: In our current society where you are not allowed to have an opinion unless it’s the current, accepted opinion of Hollywood, and anything you say can and will be used against you, do you think it’s better to just say nothing at all?
GP: Well I have always had a problem with that. (laughs) My long winded answer is I find that I have truly, I tried as an individual to stay away from the expectation of that part of this business. I truly feel like everybody always says you have to comment on this or use your platform for this, I don’t think that’s my job. I think my job is in my opinion as an entertainer. I am here to put my heart and soul and my body on the line in order to entertain the masses, that’s what I am here for. For two and a half hours you should be able to see something you have never seen before because a bunch of people have assembled a team and you have the minds that do this and this and it’s like holy shit, we did something great. I had never gotten into this business to be a politician, I have never gotten in this business to do anything other than tell stories that I really care about and hopefully that get people excited and move people. That’s it. If you want to see my opinions, you will see them on the screen. If you want to see my heart or my brain, you will see them on the screen. So that other part of my life is something that, my privacy and my opinions are something that I just don’t think is what I signed up for. That’s just me.
JR: That is the most incredible answer. I have asked so many people and I get such an array of different responses and I have to say that response is spot on, just money. From a personal perspective I have to say that anyone I ever mention your name to, and you know I photograph all these actors every single week, I think you are the most loved. (laughs) And I am not blowing smoke up your ass, I am just telling you because it’s true and because there are so many people that are like oh, he’s a douchebag, he’s an asshole, but with you, they are like he’s the nicest guy, I’m so happy for his success, he’s an awesome guy, you really know him, tell me about him. So whatever the hell you are doing Glen Powell, you better keep doing it because you are just fucking money, you really are.
GP: I appreciate that. You are in the same boat, nobody can say one bad thing about you, you are great to people, you really are, again, my perspective about this business is first off, I try to collect good people, people that reflect, they say you are a collection of the people you keep around you, that’s who your personality is, that is who your values are and those sorts of things. And I have tried to collect great people around me that I feel like make me a better person. I also feel like we are in the greatest business and I try to surround myself with people that love what they do, treat people well and it’s as simple as that. It just doesn’t have to be so hard, it doesn’t have to be so ego driven. And I also think I have got a mom and dad who will slap me silly if I do anything other than that, I don’t know. I really appreciate you saying that, because I really do feel like I have, I don’t know, I feel the same way about the people that are around me, I just feel very, very lucky to be surrounded by great people, like yourself.
Clothing Ace Rivington, Naked Cashmere, Matchless London.