For a while, Glen Powell was one of those “Hey, I know that guy from somewhere” actors. He’d been in some TV shows and had bit parts in some films, but nothing huge.
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That all changed this summer, when Powell was the leading man in Netflix’s rom-com revival “Set It Up,” in which he plays an aggravated office assistant who conspires with another assistant, played by Zoey Deutch, to pair off their bosses so that they can finally get time to themselves. The film was an instant hit when it debuted on the streaming service in June, and it led to the biggest break yet in Powell’s career: Powell will have an as-yet-undisclosed role in “Top Gun: Maverick.” After losing the role of Goose’s son (If you don’t know who Goose is, watch this) to Miles Teller, Powell reportedly impressed Tom Cruise so much that he was invited back to audition for another role.
All in all, pretty good for an Austin boy who moved out to Los Angeles after a year of college at the University of Texas.
Related: SXSW Film Review: “Everybody Wants Some!!”
Oh, you didn’t know Powell was an Austinite? It’s OK, this somehow slipped under our radar too. This vital information first came to light when we found a recent profile of Powell in The Ringer, but his Austin background is no secret. Here’s a roundup of all the times he’s talked about his Texas ties.
His first film role was in a Robert Rodriguez film at the age of 13: “Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over”:
“The description of the character was for a goateed man. He was supposed to be this creepy guy. I must have been 13 years old, and my voice sounded like Mickey Mouse. I couldn’t have been more clean-cut and non-goateed. I was auditioning with two or three other guys that all had full beards. I’m like, ‘What the hell am I doing here?’ But Robert ended up giving me a better role [”Long-fingered boy”].”
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Despite living in Austin his whole life, he never actually attended SXSW until he had a film premiere at the festival in 2016 (Richard Linklater’s “Everybody Wants Some!!”):
“Growing up in Austin, I usually left for spring break.”
For his role as a college baseball player in “Everybody Wants Some!!”, Powell and the other actors got some exclusive training from a UT legend:
“We got to play with [University of Texas baseball coach] Augie Garrido. He coached us for a day and we got to play at the UT field. Then we played every day. We played every day at Rick’s ranch. Rick has this great field and a pitching machine. Basically we’d rehearse in the morning, play during the day, rehearse at night and then watch a movie. That was kind of like the schedule for about two weeks.”
He splits his time pretty evenly with L.A. and Austin:
“I get back to Austin quite a bit. I talk to my parents every day and my folks are still there, so as soon as I find I have a few days where I’m not needed here in Los Angeles, I get back. Southwest is pretty genius about that...In Austin, people are just so low-key there, and they love the arts, but they love it for the right reasons. And they just love life.”
He gave his “Everybody” co-stars a tour of Austin while they were filming, and he took them to a bunch of important Austin haunts, but forgot one important Linklater spot:
“I remember this one day, it was like the perfect day. I got to take them to Amy’s Ice Cream and then we went to Barton Springs and swam there and I got to take them to Threadgill’s after that.
Did you take them to Top Notch, the drive-in that was in Dazed and Confused?
Oh my god, I don’t think I took ’em to friggin’ Top Notch! Oh my god, I’m the worst tour guide ever! Please don’t print that. I feel so ashamed. We should have rolled up in some muscle cars to Top Notch. I didn’t even think about that.”
One of his first film roles was for Richard Linklater, in “Fast food Nation,” while he was a high schooler at Westwoood High School:
“When I worked with Rick on ‘Fast Food Nation,’ I broke my arm a week and a half before we started shooting. I had to call Rick: ‘Hey man, I broke my arm, please don’t fire me,’ and I remember him being like, ‘There was always a guy in high school with a cast—that’s amazing.’ If you really think about your high school experience, there was always somebody walking around on crutches or with a sling or a cast; it’s just the nature of being young. You never see that in a movie and he got so excited and giddy about it.”
His move to L.A. was a result of meeting an agent who saw him in 2007’s “The Great Debaters,” starring Denzel Washington. Washington’s agent Ed Limato saw Powell and told him he reminded him of “a young Richard Gere”:
“I thought it was just some random guy. I didn’t know he represented Richard Gere...[When we met again at the premiere] I showed up in jeans, a belt buckle, and a cowboy hat. Ed walked in and he goes, ‘Did you just come off a farm?'”
He always tries to sneak in his mom or his family members as extras on his films:
“She loves being on set, she gets a kick out of it, and nepotism is kind of an expectation at this point. Now she’s like, ‘Glen, what’s my role in this movie?’”
He has a pet monkey named Charlie that lives in Texas:
“I tried to bring him out to Los Angeles but the monkey laws are kind of crazy out here. Charlie gets treated better than any human. He’s the most spoiled pet you can imagine. He lives out in Texas with my family.”
He once set 3,000 crickets loose in his Austin middle school:
“By the time the cricket thing was executed, I’m in this room with the principal. Real mean son of b----. All of the sudden, the hallways, you started seeing people run past. People are just running past like, ‘Oh my God!’ They’re like, ‘Crickets, crickets!’ There’s a dude going nuts. You can see crickets flying around. [The principal] looks at me and he’s like, ‘Did you have anything to do with this?’ I was like, ‘I’ve been here the whole time, man.’”
[H/T Interview Magazine, Austin Monthly and The Ringer]
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