The Big Picture
- Glen Powell and Adria Arjona have risen to stardom in recent years, and are set to star in Richard Linklater’s Hit Man.
- Linklater knew right away that Arjona was the perfect fit for her character, and Powell confirmed their connection after spending hours together.
- The casting process for Hit Man was easier compared to Linklater’s other projects, and seeing Powell and Arjona rehearse got the director excited about the film’s release.
Over the past several years, Glen Powell and Adria Arjona have risen to true stardom. Powell found his breakout role in 2015 when he joined Scream Queens, paving the way for a future that featured Hidden Figures and The Bad Guys, culminating in a major role in last year’s Top Gun: Maverick, one of the biggest films in history. Arjona has been on a similar upward trajectory, parlaying turns in True Detective, The Belko Experiment, and Emerald City into huge spots aboard the recent Father of the Bride remake and Andor. In Richard Linklater‘s Hit Man, the pair finally link up and, according to the director, it was a match made in heaven.
While at Collider’s TIFF media studio at the Cinema Center at MARBL, Linklater spoke with Steve Weintraub about his latest which tells the somewhat true story of Gary Johnson (Powell), a philosophy professor by day who doubles as an undercover cop pretending to be a hitman to catch would-be buyers. Things change when he meets Madison (Arjona) a woman who’s desperate to get out of a toxic marriage. As he breaks protocol to help her, sparks fly and the two pursue a sizzling relationship outside their “professional” deal.
Their relationship is the beating heart of this screwball comedy noir, but it didn’t take a single chemistry read to find a perfect fit to bring their love to life. Linklater knew Arjona was the one to play Madison right away, and he said the chemistry was natural between her and Powell from the first time they met:
“A chemistry read? I had met Adria just on Zoom. We had talked, and I was like, ‘Oh my god.’ I called up Glen and said, ‘This is Madison. She’s so vivacious, so funny and smart and sexy. I want you to meet her.’ And they live kind of not far from each other, it turns out, so they were gonna have, like, say they were gonna meet at three o’clock, and then it was like 4:30 and I hadn’t heard back. I thought I’d hear from Glen. Then it’s like 6:30 at night. I said, ‘Aw, man.’ Then finally, at about 8:30 at night, I got a call from Glen saying, ‘We were together five hours. Coffee became drinks, and we were just…’ And I was like, ‘Okay, we got a movie.’ I mean, I knew that, I just had to hear it from them that they sort of clicked and knew what we were trying to do with this movie.”
Powell and Arjona Made Linklater Excited to Film ‘Hit Man’
Hit Man‘s casting process paled in comparison to some of Linklater’s other projects like the Before trilogy which searched for nine months before casting Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy to play its lead couple. Linklater understands that good relationships off-screen don’t always translate perfectly when the cameras start rolling, but when it came to Powell and Arjona, he said “I knew. I can put two things together. Knowing Glen and then getting to know her, I was like, ‘Okay, this is gonna work.'”
Seeing Powell and Arjona together started getting the veteran director excited for what was to come from Hit Man. “When you start rehearsing, you always have the front-row seat, and when we work on scenes, I’m like, ‘Oh, I can’t wait,” he said. “It’s a year-plus away, but I can’t wait for this to be in a movie.'” Joining the duo in the cast are Retta, Austin Amelio, and Molly Bernard among others.
There’s no theatrical release date for Hit Man yet. In the meantime, check out our full interview with Linklater at TIFF 2023 below and keep an eye out for more coverage from the festival.