Glen Powell of The Expendables 3

A citizen of the world Powell is set to take it over...

Glen Powell is an up and coming actor who is totally on our radar and we think he should be on yours too. Born and raised in Austin, Texas, he's charming, driven, articulate and of course ridiculously talented. I had a chance to hang with him while he was on a quick trip to NYC, and it was a blast. This summer look out for him in The Expendables 3 alongside a huge cast of incredible actors. He shares stories here on his career break, experiences on set, fitness, style, his love of Sinatra, Johnny Cash, shooting guns and kicking ass.
One of your first roles was as a Harvard debater in "The Great Debaters" directed and starring Denzel Washington. His agent the legendary Ed Limato, spotted you and encouraged you to move to Los Angeles. Can you share how your journey has gone since then until now, with the soon to be released "The Expendables 3"? Ed Limato was one-of-a-kind. If you love Hollywood history, you know that Ed was probably the most respected agent of all time. He guided some of the biggest careers in film history: Denzel Washington, Marlon Brando, Meryl Streep, Richard Gere, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Kevin Costner, Nicholas Cage, Robert Downey Jr., Liam Neeson, Mel Gibson, Antonio Banderas, and Sylvester Stallone, to name a few (the last three of which are my fellow Expendables.) He fought for his clients with an unmatched ferocity and steadfast vision. Ed was the person who told me that I was good enough to swim in the biggest pond and convinced me to leave Austin, Texas for Los Angeles. After Ed passed away in 2010, I floated around town for a couple years fighting for work. Unprotected, it was a very different and very tough town, although that time did give me the opportunity to write and produce. One day, I got a call from an agent named Joey Stanton who had the same fire, charisma, heart, and fearless approach that made Ed Limato a legend. It’s been a partnership that has changed the field completely. Since that time, Michael Lazo and Shari Smiley have joined the ranks and have been passionate and unstoppable advocates. I truly believe I have the best team in the business. Expendables 3 was something I had my eye on for a very long time. As a fan of Sylvester Stallone, the franchise, and action movies in general, I wanted this role more than anything. However, I knew virtually every young actor in Hollywood felt the same way. So I wrote Stallone telling him why I was the only choice for the role. I told him that in Texas I grew up with a gun range in the basement, learned to fight from my uncles who lived and breathed mixed martial arts, and spent much of my childhood finding new and creative ways to cheat death. I had been preparing for this role my entire life. I promised Sly to go into the trenches with him if he went with me. He told me recently that my letter sealed the deal. Thanks to Sly and that break, some really fun movies are on the horizon.
What are some outstanding memories from your experience filming such a huge movie, with a cast including Antonio Banderas, Wesley Snipes, Harrison Ford and Sylvester Stallone? The first day of shooting we filmed a scene where all the Expendables were in the same Apache. I had been cast and jetted off to Bulgaria so quickly that the reality of the situation hadn’t quite sunk in yet. All of a sudden, I was sitting in a helicopter with Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Snipes, Statham, Lundgren, Li, Banderas, and Ford (or as the producer Avi Lerner calls it “the most expensive helicopter of all time”)…and me. Not a day went by on the Expendables set that I didn’t realize I was living out every guy’s dream. Shooting guns and kicking ass with living legends were the reasons I got into the business in the first place. The hardest part was not smiling.
You mention there are some really funny moments in the film. How would you say your character Thorn fit into the scheme of things? At the beginning of Expendables 3, Barney Ross and his original gang are finally faced with their age and their mortality. They bring in some young guns to replace the old team. My character, Thorn, is the guy who doesn’t play well with others. He’s a genius and adrenaline junkie with way too much time on his hands. An ex-Marine and current con, Barney finds him in Wyoming on probation after he shut down the power grid for Seattle. Thorn is quick to call people out, so the best part is I get to talk trash to some of the biggest action stars of all time. There is a scene where Sly and I are prepping for a mission and the entire scene is just Sly and me talking trash to each other. Sly is really smart and an impressive improvisational trash talker, so I had to try to forget I was verbally abusing Rambo and just go for it and hope that I didn’t get slugged or fired.
So in between a lot of press touring, how do you plan on spending your time? As much as possible I try to get back to the ranch to kick it with my family. I have a huge, rowdy, Texas crew who gets me in all the right kinds of trouble. If you are lucky enough to meet them, you’ll figure out quickly why I’m constantly home and that all of my farfetched and seemingly impossible stories about my family are actually all true.
You seem to like a lot of adventurous, physically challenging activities and all kinds of sports. What are some of your latest interests in that arena? Growing up, I was an athlete (football and lacrosse) and just acted for fun. That sports background has served me well in these action movies. There is a scene where I scale an elevator shaft, sprint across a roof, and run and leap off an eleven-story building. If you aren’t an athlete (and a little crazy), I don’t know how you step into something like that. Lately, I’ve been knocking out my extreme bucket list before I am too old to recover. This is a wild planet and there are a lot of ways to enjoy it before they put me inside of it. Just don’t tell my mom.
Can you share some workout routines and/or diet tips that help keep you in such amazing shape? If you want to get in shape, the Expendables set is a pretty good place to pick up some tips. Jason Statham was a great mentor in that regard. Jason is all routine and discipline. Baked chicken, Brussels sprouts, and spinach. Everyday. I just went to catering and started asking for “The Statham.” Sly is insanely shredded, and he works hard for it. An important thing I learned from him is to be physically active all the time. He carries a fifteen-pound bar around that he twirls around like a billy club that makes his forearms swell like tree trunks and is constantly finding innovative things to do with a dumbbell and five minutes of down time. Couture, Rousey, and Ortiz are all world-championship fighters who are religious about their naptimes. A twenty to forty minute nap in the middle of the day refuels you physically and mentally and boosts your metabolism. Coffee and energy drinks can cause you to crash, but a nap will revitalize and reenergize to keep you fighting.
You recently moved into a house that is far from any restaurants. Are you going to start working on your culinary skills and make some delicious home cooked meals? My last spot was in the heart of the city surrounded by restaurants and it made it really easy to stay out of the kitchen. The new place is deep in the Hollywood Hills far away from those comforts, so I am definitely going to have to get back in the kitchen. My parents raised me around a grill and smoker so it is just about finding the time to whip some things up and hoping that it is good enough that my friends want the leftovers.
What are some style staples in your wardrobe? If you’ve met me once, you know that I’m a passionate Texan. You can’t go wrong with boots, jeans, and a button-down. I like rugged. I think pristine is boring, whether it's clothes, furniture, or people. I like things a little beat up. The best stories are in the wrinkles and scars and the best clothes look like they’ve seen and can take some hard living.
Do you have some favorite tunes you're listening to lately? My music taste is all over the map, but really more broken up into activities. When I’m on the road it's Franki Valli, the Beach Boys, James Taylor, and Hall & Oates. When I’m in the gym I’m blasting Tupac, Eminem, Jay-Z, and Kanye. On the dance floor, I’m all about the Bee Gees, AC/DC, and Michael Jackson. When I need to be creative I crank up John Williams, Mozart, and Hans Zimmer. With a glass of whiskey and a view, I’m all about Sinatra, Elvis, and Johnny Cash. My little sister Leslie Powell is a singer-songwriter in Nashville and, no doubt, my favorite artist of all. Nothing puts me in a better mood than her music. Remember the name. She’s a star.
With your focus on putting 110% into your career, does it make it difficult to have much of a personal life? I have a solid group of friends in California and Texas who understand the unpredictability and spontaneous nature of entertainment. I plan and live in the moment. For me, it’s really the only way. It’s my favorite way. Girls, however, don’t tend to appreciate that. I’m always impressed with actors who are able to maintain relationships on set. It’s an endless series of texting, skyping, face-timing, and phone calls. My first love is acting. You will never see me happier than when I am on a set. I never want to be glued to my phone. I like to be in the moment and enjoy the people around me, which girlfriends also tend to hate. Eventually some girl is going to drop me to the canvas, but for now it’s all about my friends on and off set.
What stood out as really special about your recent visit to NYC? When I go to New York, I stay with friends because I think that’s the way to do it. I love couch surfing in small apartments with no personal space. I love being packed in the subway, the hustlers peddling illegal knock-offs on corners and the odd smell of roasted nuts and stale urine in Time Square. I enjoy sitting at an outdoor café and people-watching even when it’s too cold. The energy is palpable and the people are just more interesting. As a southern boy who grew up with polite people who look you in the eyes and smile constantly, there is something I really find fascinating about being around people who don’t apologize for their lack of hygiene and who quickly throw up the middle finger. It’s that edge that makes New York one of the best cities in the world. And a 4am closing time. That is also pretty killer.

-words and photo by Tina Turnbow Clothing by Robert James