There’s that class of actors who were on the brink of breaking out circa 2019 who had their big moments delayed by the pandemic—like so many other, more important things—but are now enjoying their delayed moments to the fullest in 2022. Ana de Armas is finally having it, even if Blonde isn’t worthy of her effort, Jonathan Majors is finally having it, and so is Glen Powell, whose momentum going into 2020, when Top Gun: Maverick was meant to come out, was that of being anointed by Tom Cruise himself. He may have lost the role of nepo baby Rooster Bradshaw to Miles Teller, but the story that came out is now part of the Glen Powell Legend—Tom Cruise himself chased Powell down and convinced him to take a smaller role that Powell could make his own. (This going along with Denzel Washington being the one to convince a teenaged Powell to move to LA and give acting a shot.)
This past week was Thanksgiving in the US, one of the major movie-going holidays. Or, it was. That might be different now, as 2022 just racked the worst Thanksgiving box office in recorded history. Powell’s new movie, co-starring Jonathan Majors, Devotion, only banked $9 million. Once upon a time, Devotion would be a solid $30-40 million opening weekend, but maybe that’s all different now. The honeymoon period of movie theaters coming back post-pandemic might be over, and we’re going to have to deal with all the problems that existed before COVID, like audience malaise, expensive ticket prices, bad theater experiences, and a glut of just too much damn stuff being available at any given moment. Hopefully, none of this wears on Powell too much. Devotion is good, he can be proud of the final result even if the audience didn’t show up for it (though it feels like a movie people will, inevitably, discover on streaming).
Last week, to go along with Devotion, Powell covered GQ Hype, GQ’s weekly digital edition. He looks very hot in these photos, but the interview is interesting, too. Powell is not shy about his ambition, he isn’t afraid to talk about wanting certain things in his career. He’s not too cool for school, projecting an aura of “whatever, this all just happened”, as so many dude stars have done over the years. Glen Powell is hungry, and he wants everyone to know it. He also talks about the post-Maverick phase of his career. He’s already using whatever juice he has to get movies made. He got the rights for Devotion after reading a book about Tom Hudner and Jesse Brown on a fishing trip, he is credited an executive producer for his effort in getting the project off the ground.
But he is also WRITING, which to me, is a MUCH bigger deal. Smart, ambitious actors should be producing their own work, it’s basically the only way to guarantee they’ll get interesting roles in the current sh-tshow era of Hollywood (we’ve seen Margot Robbie go down this path to great effect in recent years). But Powell’s next movie is Hitman, co-written by Powell and Richard Linklater, and directed by Linklater (Powell previously starred in Linklater’s films Fast Food Nation and Everybody Wants Some!!). Powell is not only putting himself out there as an actor, but as a writer, he’s opening himself up to brand new levels of judgment.
Producing is hard, but at the end of the day, someone else writes and directs the movie. But as a credited writer, Powell is going to wear ten times the judgment when the movie comes out. If it’s bad, it’s on him, inescapably. But if it’s good? Well, that’s the gamble. If it’s good, there’s no downside. Glen Powell can be a one-man movie-making machine, writing, producing, and starring in his own movies. He won’t have to wait on anybody to do the work he wants to do. Given how uncertain everything is in the industry right now, there’s a certain amount of security in that, even for a guy admittedly chasing Tom Cruise’s career.
Speaking of, over the holiday, my family watched Top Gun: Maverick. It went over like gangbusters, but my mom’s reaction to Glen Powell was priceless. First, she is 100% convinced Powell, Chris Evans, and Chris Pine are the same person, and they all play Captain America. She kept calling Powell “Captain America”. Second, she was OUTRAGED when Maverick picked Rooster for the big mission at the end. She called Rooster a nepo baby! She also made a good point that in Top Gun, it's clear Iceman and Maverick are pretty much equals as pilots, but in Maverick, it bothered her endlessly that Hangman was obviously better than Rooster. She was thrilled when Hangman got his big moment, she is Hangman’s #1 fangirl, even if she does think he is also Captain America.
Also, I want to circle back to Powell’s next movie, Hitman. It’s based on a Texas Monthly article from 2001, written by THE Skip Hollandsworth, arguably the best investigative journalist working in true crime today. Glen Powell is from Texas. Do we think he’s reading Texas Monthly because he’s keeping up with news from home, or is Glen Powell a true crime aficionado? Texas Monthly and Skip Hollandsworth are staples in the true crime community. Is it just a coincidence, purely the Texas connection, that brought that article to Powell’s attention? Or could Powell be a celebrity true crime aficionado? Someone ask him on the press tour!