Top Gun 2 Star Explains Why He Didn’t Want To Initially Play Hangman
Glen Powell opens up about why he initially turned down the role of Hangman in Top Gun: Maverick. Tom Cruise revisited arguably his most iconic role in 2022, more than three decades since Maverick was introduced in 1986’s Top Gun. Unlike the original film, however, Top Gun: Maverick zeroed in on its titular character’s narrative as he dealt with some of his hang-ups in both his personal and professional lives. Maverick returns to TOPGUN to train a new breed of pilots for a highly dangerous and important mission, which allowed the Joseph Kosinski-directed sequel to also introduce new Navy pilots, such as Powell’s Jake “Hangman” Seresin.
By the time Powell appeared in Top Gun: Maverick, he was no industry newbie, but the film has arguably catapulted him to mainstream popularity. The actor originally auditioned to play Goose’s son, Rooster, a role that ended up being played by Miles Teller. Despite that, he was asked to read for a different character, Hangman, who was then called Slayer. Powell now tells GQ he wasn’t exactly interested in the role, describing it as “dick garnish” and “Navy Draco Malfoy.” But Cruise, Kosinski, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and writer Christopher McQuarrie all convinced him he could bring Hangman to life. Read his full story below:
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. 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.
Why Powell Was Perfect As Top Gun: Maverick’s Hangman
It’s interesting how much Hangman evolved since Powell took on the role in Top Gun: Maverick. The actor had a hand in many of the creative decisions regarding the character, including the change in name from Slayer. As well received as he was, it’s difficult to argue with Powell’s comment about Hangman not having any pay-off. While he was fun to watch, especially as he pushes Maverick and Rooster’s buttons, there’s barely any information shared about him outside of being a cocky, albeit talented, Navy pilot. Granted that he showed some character development towards the end of the film, it doesn’t exactly make him a properly fleshed-out player.
The great news is, amid all of this, Powell played his Top Gun: Maverick role with such charm and gusto that it’s difficult not to be invested in him. Even in his rudest, cockiest moments, he was still endearing. In fact, Hangman is arguably Maverick’s real successor in terms of personality. Like the legendary Navy pilot, he is also full of himself, and sometimes that gets him in trouble. But he is loyal and committed to the work as a fighter pilot. He also has a strong sense of responsibility, hence why he was adamant about flying support as Maverick and Rooster were on their way back to their ship.
Throughout the making Top Gun: Maverick, Powell formed a strong relationship with Cruise. Between this and the fans’ reception of the character, it’s safe to say that he will play an integral part in the future of Top Gun, if there is one. Perhaps, Hangman and Rooster can lead Top Gun 3 as Maverick takes the back seat, only to come back in later films.
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