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The Real Reason Glen Powell Changed His Mind About Top Gun: Maverick

Contains spoilers for "Top Gun: Maverick"

In the blockbuster big-screen hit "Top Gun: Maverick," Glen Powell portrays Lieutenant Jake "Hangman" Seresin, a hotshot young pilot who finds himself in a rivalry with fellow TOPGUN student Lieutenant Bradley "Rooster" Bradshaw (Miles Teller). Hangman initially displays a cocky confidence that ends up getting him into some shenanigans with his instructor, Captain Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (Tom Cruise). As an example, during flight training, the two bet on who can shoot the other down first. Hangman loses and finds himself doing 200 push-ups.

Eventually, Hangman shapes up to be a properly humbled but still highly skilled pilot, and he and Rooster become friends, proving that he can be a team player as well as a valuable flyer in the field. He's an important member of the final mission and even saves his two former rivals in the sky.

With "Top Gun: Maverick" making such a strong showing at the box office and winning critical plaudits (it's certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with a 97% Tomatometer score), one might be surprised to learn that Powell had initially turned down the role of Hangman. What made the actor change his mind about appearing in "Top Gun: Maverick"?

Powell didn't like Hangman's original character arc

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Glen Powell revealed that he initially turned down the role because Hangman lacked a proper character arc in the film's first draft. "The way it was originally written, I didn't consider him to be a great pilot or a personality that I engaged with all that much. He didn't have any redemption. He just sort of faded off into the sunset. He didn't make the mission, he had a terrible reaction to it and you never heard from him again," he said.

Powell observed that this original iteration of Hangman didn't feel like a real person with a softer side, so he didn't want to participate in the film. "You can be an unapologetic pilot, but at the end of the day, we're all on the same side. We're all fighting the same bad guys. That's what makes a competition film really resonate," he added.

But the film's producers wanted Powell in the flick so badly that they dove back into the script, improved Hangman's character arc by creating a character similar to Tom "Iceman" Kazansky (Val Kilmer) in the original film, and reworked the rivalry between Rooster and Hangman so that it complements the one between Maverick and Iceman.

According to Powell, Tom Cruise and screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie also added in that major heroic gesture where he helps both Maverick and Rooster. This definitely helped change Powell's mind. "You're rooting for that moment when you watch it. You don't feel completion if that moment doesn't exist, so to speak," the actor explained. This improvement ultimately got him into Hangman's uniform. And fans of "Maverick" everywhere are glad for it.