Rule No. 1: When Denzel Washington gives you advice, you listen.
That’s what Glen Powell, a former high school football and lacrosse star in Texas, learned when Denzel pulled him pulled him aside while filming 2007’s The Great Debaters. “He said, ‘Yo, you need to move to L.A.,’” Powell recalls. “He also said, ‘Be undeniably good at what you do.’”
Powell did head West, and lived with a rich Bel Air family in exchange for coaching their son’s middle school football and basketball teams.
“Here I am, a struggling actor, and movie executives are saying to me, ‘My son’s not playing much. What can we do about that?’ ” he says. “How do I tell someone I’m dying to work with, ‘Your kid is kind of lazy’?”
Powell, 27, followed through on Washington’s second tip, too: He’s now starring in Fox TV’s new series Scream Queens and has two films in the can for ’16, Ride Along 2 and Everybody Wants Some, Richard Linklater’s “spiritual sequel” to Dazed and Confused.
And while shooting 2014’s The Expendables 3, Powell got pointers from another veteran actor. “Mel Gibson taught me to run properly,” he says, laughing. Apparently, running in football and onscreen are very different endeavors.
“You’ve got to pump your arms and move your feet faster, or you just don’t look cool.”