It takes a lot to create a great ensemble cast. You need the right people, sure, but you also need chemistry, a good story, setting, and careful character development. So, Richard Linklater had some big shoes to fill with the "spiritual sequel" to Dazed and Confused—a film that NAILS the ensemble cast—Everybody Wants Some. The '80s-set film that follows a group of college baseball players is, much like Dazed, about absolutely nothing and everything all at once. Depicting the last days of summer before the semester begins, it's full of parties, sex, baseball and bro-centric bonding with his fellow teammates. And though Jake (Blake Jenner) is our entry point into this beer-glazed world, Everybody Wants Some absolutely hinges on the quality of the secondary characters.
Enter Glen Powell, the 27-year-old Scream Queens actor, who steals the show as Finnegan, an elder statesman on the baseball team who is at once a party boy, stoner, philosopher and ladies man—who buys into being a "bro" but equally complicates the label. Powell shines, and others have began to notice. He has multiple projects in development, including Sand Castle, alongside British bro Henry Cavill, which will hit theaters this December. We hopped on the phone with the endlessly charming Powell, who talked to us about working with Linklater, pickup lines, and those Matthew McConaughey comparisons.
What are you up to right now?
We're in Denver right now, just doing the whole handshake, kissing babies thing.
You're well on your way to being a politician, aren't you?
It's a totally different process. Being out at Rick’s ranch was a very private, intimate process. And then, you're unleashing your baby out into the world, and it's definitely a different part of your brain you have to activate. Acting is like being a politician these days.
How did you get involved in Everybody Wants Some!!?
Ricky's not a heat-seeking missile. He just wants the best guy for the job. He doesn't care if they have star power, X movie coming out, or a TV show that's winning awards. Rick has really never changed over the years and I think that's why he's such a great filmmaker. He's untainted by Hollywood and outside influences.
During this audition process, I definitely didn't have a leg up on anybody. First, you audition for all six roles, right? Then they bring you back for two or three, then you sit down with Rick and talk and tell stories, and he'll audition you with those couple roles. Then a skills video. And then you come back for Rick again, and then a chemistry read with Blake Jenner. Every young guy, below the age of 30, was in the audition room, trying to get in the audition room with Rick. And we felt very lucky that we got to be a part of this one.
Finnegan was my favorite. He was equal parts douchebag, philosopher, and then also romantic. Did talking the character out really help? Did you add parts of your own personality to it?
Rick and I were talking about our college experiences. He remembers things as they were, very factually. He isn't a sentimental person. When you go to college and you talk about your college experience, there's a lot of revisionist history that goes along with it. You tend to think of yourself as, "Oh, I got all of the girls, I was the best athlete on the team, I was a straight-A student." And that's probably not the case.
Rick goes, "Finn is that guy." He's the guy we all wish we could have been back in college. He's the guy that has it all together. He sees the future. He's a great athlete. Even though he gets turned down by girls, he turns the other cheek and keeps going. He’s a guy that's unaffected by the things that don't matter, and affected by the things that do. Rick describes him as a hedonistic philosopher. Rick turned all the boys loose in the wardrobe trailer and the props trailer. One of the things that broke Finn was when I found that pipe. I only use it in a few scenes, but it was like one of those things where I went, "Oh, that's who he is." He's the wise old sage among a group of young Neanderthals.
Do you think any of his pick-up lines would actually work?
I'm not really a line type of guy. I mean, pick-up lines work for some guys. You gotta really sell that thing hard. I did try one pick-up line and it failed miserably. I thought it was really funny, but the girl didn't find it very funny.
You have to tell me the line you used.
You walk up and just kind of lean over and you just say, "Hey, I just farted, we should get out of here."
I can't say I'm surprised it didn't work.
That's the little boy in me that thinks it’s hilarious. But girls think that I actually just farted, and then they run away. I thought I was being clever. I don't know what I'm doing here.
It seems like the cast got along so well. Did you guys get competitive with each other? Play pranks on each other?
I tried to tell all the younger guys that have never done movies before, "Lock this experience in, remember it, cherish it, live in the here and now because it doesn't get any better than this." A Richard Linklater set is truly Eden. So obviously, life imitates art and art imitates life with this movie, in terms of the fuckwithery factor. During the rehearsal process at Rick's ranch, he had a game room and we were literally competing non-stop, all day, every day.
I feel like that's the nature of being a young guy—competition brings people closer. That's how I bond with people. When you're across the foosball table against another guy, and you're talking trash, that's how you get closer. And that was definitely part of the process. There was one time, I convinced Tanner Kalina to put a huge dead tarantula on Will Brittain's chest while he was sleeping. Will woke up and freaked out and nearly beat the crap out of Tanner. It really was that locker room feel.
I liked that whole idea in the movie of trying to find identity, and going to the country club, the punk club, the disco club. Did you guys have to learn how to dance?
None of these guys are shy, but you get us all on a dance floor. It was funny because we had to learn to dance in the era. And I think that's the most evident at the Sound Machine. The punk club is more mosh, and with the country club, country music hasn't changed all that much, but dance moves back in the generation of disco, that's changed dramatically. Soulja Boy and the Dougie now? t's a new generation that we're working with.
Too bad there was no Soulja Boy in there.
I tried to get Rick to put that in the montage.
I'm sure people wouldn't have fact-checked that at all. A lot of critics have been calling your character the McConaughey—the Wooderson—of the film. Is that intimidating?
Intimidating? Nah. It's so crazy because arguably, I think it's a friggin' whole movie of Woodersons. I think everybody has the potential to be McConaughey in this thing. Obviously, Finn gets a lot to do and I'll take that comparison all day everyday. But I think the craziest part is in an ensemble movie, there's always a weak point. And there's not in this movie. It's kind of crazy that every single character pops.
You really love these guys, huh?
I look at this group of guys and I think all of these guys have potential to have Matthew McConaughey careers and beyond. Right now, it's this really special time where nobody knows who any of us are. I just don't know if it gets any better.
After all, you are getting to kiss a lot of babies right now.
You got to make sure they offer the baby for you to kiss. You can't just go for it. If you just get into the rhythm and they don't invite you to kiss their baby, that's a felony.