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Glen Powell Initially Disliked His ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Role, Called Character ‘A Navy Draco Malfoy’

“He 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 said.

Glen Powell in "Top Gun: Maverick"

Glen Powell in “Top Gun: Maverick”

©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

Top Gun: Maverick” was such a massive success, both critically and commercially, that it can be hard to imagine any actor not wanting to participate in the film. But Glen Powell wasn’t sure that playing the arrogant Jake “Hangman” Seresin would be a good career move.

In a new interview with GQ, Powell shared his first impressions of the “Top Gun: Maverick” script. The actor initially auditioned for the role of Rooster that ultimately went to Miles Teller, but when he was called in to read for Hangman, he had some reservations about the part. Powell dismissively referred to the character as “dick garnish” and “Navy Draco Malfoy,” and it took some convincing for him to see the complexity of Hangman.

“He 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. I didn’t know why he existed,” Powell said of Hangman. “It was a leap of faith. In hindsight, I’m like, God, I can’t imagine if I missed out on this one, but it wasn’t so obvious.”

Powell said that once they began shooting, Tom Cruise helped him find ways to make the character more likable. The legendary actor advised Powell to avoid putting his feet up because it could alienate audiences in foreign markets where such body language is considered rude.

“It’s not that I need people to root for you, but I need them to love watching you,” Powell recalled Cruise telling him. “In some places in the world, this piece of body language will turn them off emotionally to your character.”

Powell went on to explain that the experience of working with Cruise (who he previously called “one of a kind”) expanded his knowledge of the film industry and gave him a clearer idea of the kind of movie star he aspires to be.

“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,” he said. “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?”

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