Glen Powell on His Big Year and How Tom Cruise Convinced Him to Take Role in 'Top Gun: Maverick'

The busy actor stars in the new Netflix movie Apollo 10 1/2 and Top Gun: Maverick

Glen Powell is having a big 2022.

The scene-stealing actor, 33, known for his fan-loved roles in Scream Queens, Hidden Figures and Set it Up, has a series of buzzworthy projects on his plate, the first being the animated Apollo 10 1/2 (now streaming on Netflix), followed by Top Gun: Maverick (May 27).

Powell says his career strategy thus far has been to try and do projects "for the right reasons, the things that get me creatively motivated," and both Apollo 10 1/2, directed by Richard Linklater (Boyhood, Everybody Wants Some!) and Top Gun: Maverick fall into those fulfilling categories.

"Look, I'm not at the top of the food chain by any means," he says with a laugh. "I'm just getting to the party here. But I do feel like it's an exciting time because the options on the table are the options I've always dreamed about. It's a really nice time."

The Top Gun journey has been particularly interesting for Powell, who initially turned down the role he was offered.

Glen Powell
Paramount Pictures

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"I auditioned for Miles Teller's role ['Rooster' Bradshaw, the son of ill-fated pilot 'Goose' Bradshaw from the 1986 film]," says Powell. "[Teller] is absolutely perfectly cast and I loved working with him. But yeah, it was an interesting thing. When I didn't get that role, I was offered a different role. And when I read the script, it just didn't really seem like a role that connected, one that I felt super excited to play.

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"And then Tom [Cruise] invited me to come sit down with him," he continues. "And we sat down for a couple hours and talked about his life and his career and how he chooses movies, and how he develops roles and those sort of things. And it was really a series of those conversations that convinced me that this could be a role that could actually be exciting, that I could have a little bit of creative license. I could make it my own and make something that could be really special. And I have to give Tom credit, a lot of times people just try to get you on the hook to get you in a movie and none of the promises are fulfilled. But he fulfilled every single one of those promises. And I'm really proud of the movie and I'm proud of my role in it."

Powell has since leaned into his Top Gun pilot training for the film and got a real pilot's license.

"I flew a few days ago. I want to try to make it more of my daily routine," he says. "Being around pilots, you get addicted to the lifestyle. They can fly anywhere at any given time. It's such a great way to live; I'm loving it. I'm trying to use that license to go to Palm Springs, Napa, Santa Barbara for lunch, just trying to have as much adventure in my life as possible. Tom gave me stunt-driving lessons after I got my pilot's license — so maybe car racing is next."

Apollo 10 1/2 is now streaming on Netflix. Top Gun: Maverick opens in theaters May 27.

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