Hit Man : Press Conference with Actors Glen Powell, Adria Arjona and Director Richard Linklater

Hit Man : Press Conference with Actors Glen Powell, Adria Arjona and Director Richard Linklater

@Courtesy of Netflix

Hit Man : Oscar-nominated director Richard Linklater’s sunlit neo-noir stars Glen Powell as strait-laced professor Gary Johnson, who moonlights as a fake hit man for the New Orleans Police Department. Preternaturally gifted at inhabiting different guises and personalities to catch hapless people hoping to bump off their enemies, Gary descends into morally dubious territory when he finds himself attracted to one of those potential criminals, a beautiful young woman named Madison (Adria Arjona). As Madison falls for one of Gary’s hit man personas — the mysteriously sexy Ron — their steamy affair sets off a chain reaction of play acting, deception, and escalating stakes.

Director : Richard Linklater

Producer : Jason Bateman, Mike Blizzard, Michael Costigan, Richard Linklater, Glen Powell

Screenwriter : Richard Linklater, Glen Powell, Skip Hollandsworth

Distributor : Netflix

Production Co : Detour Pictures, Barnstorm Productions, Monarch Media, ShivHans Pictures, Aggregate Films, Netflix, AGC Studios, Cinetic Media, Detour Filmproduction

Rating :R (Some Violence|Sexual Content|Language Throughout)

Genre : Romance, Comedy, Action, Crime, Mystery & Thriller

Original Language : English

Release Date (Theaters) : May 24, 2024, Limited

Release Date (Streaming) : Jun 7, 2024

Runtime : 1h 53m

Hit Man 2

@Courtesy of Netflix

Press Conference with Actors Glen Powell, Adria Arjona and Director Richard Linklater


Q : Can you talk about how Hit Man became the movie you wanted to realize together?

Glen Powell:  It was early on in the pandemic. I stumbled upon this article in the Texas Monthly titled Hitman by Skip Hollandsworth Immediately it became so clear that there was a compelling character there. The real Gary Johnson was a psychology professor who actually moonlighted with the police department.

Ornithologists. Zen Buddhists. He was just an incredible character piece. They called him the Lawrence Olivier of fake hitmen because he approached the job differently. Instead of just becoming the Hitman for someone who is trying to kill their husband or their wife or their business partner, he embodied their fantasy of what a fake hitman is.

He took this skill set to a whole new level and started putting on these disguises and all these different things. It was such a fascinating idea. So I called up Rick and I said: “I just read this amazing article called Hitman…” Rick took a beat and said: “ Yeah, I read that article when you were in seventh grade…”

Richard Linklater: I was excited to get the call from Glen because that story had been kicking around in my head. I had talked to Skip, and we had had a couple of meetings over the years, but it didn’t really work as a film.

But it was the pandemic, there wasn’t a lot to do so we started having long daily conversations, until we decided that we didn’t necessarily stick to the facts of what happened. Suddenly we just started having these great ideas and the last two-thirds of the movie kind of comes out of that. The genre kicks in, and it becomes this thrill ride, but still grounded in that reality.

Glen Powell: One of the big breaking points was this paragraph about this woman that Gary Johnson sat down with and instead of sending her to jail like he did with everybody else. She was trying to get him to kill her husband. And he didn’t believe that she was capable of this. He believed in the best of her. And talked her out of it. It was the first time that ever happened. A relationship that developed from that. Rick and I were like: “What if we pull at that thread? We have so many questions about what that relationship is!”

When we started thinking about if he got stuck in this identity as a fake hitman you sort of have this amazing character match, where you have a guy who’s teaching humanity, but not experiencing humanity, getting stuck in the mask and in the body of someone who embodies all the dangerous, exciting elements of what humanity is.

Q : How did you come on board for the role of Madison and how did you work to portray an amicable woman who also has a very dark side? 

Adria Arjona: I first met Rick over Zoom.  He is one of my favorite filmmakers. I always aspired to be an actress like the ones in one of Rick’s movies. It always feels like his characters are saying words for the first time, it feels so fresh and so beautifully crafted. So when I got Zoom meeting with him I was pretty nervous because all I wanted to do was just to work with him.

He wanted to know what I thought of Madison and that was refreshing, that doesn’t happen often. Then he told me I should meet Glen, and when it happened we just had an immediate chemistry. We couldn’t stop talking both about the movie and about our personal lives. We just had the best time.

So that’s how I came on board and then through the rehearsal process, we started creating this version of Madison. The idea of a femme fatale kept coming up. She’s a woman coming from a traumatic relationship and she’s desperate for reinvention. I think we all do that in life, we’re all always trying to find a different version of ourselves. I don’t see Madison as a femme fatale. I see her as a woman trying to play the illusion of a femme fatale. And that was really fun to play with.

Q : What makes Madison not just a romantic partner of the main character? What makes her different from the other comic sidekicks?  

Adria Arjona: I think there’s a sort of unpredictability to her that makes you want to go on her journey. Creating her with Rick and Glen, you never knew what she was going to do next. And that’s fun to watch in a character. We usually get romantic comedies with the damsel in distress, looking to be saved in some way.

In this case, it’s the opposite. It’s not the case with Madison. She has a backup plan, she’s strong and she’s really smart. And she’s constantly observing Ron and getting information from him while kind of distracting him from what is happening in the actual moment.  I don’t think I’ve seen that in a romantic action comedy.

Hit Man

@Courtesy of Netflix

Q : How did your collaboration evolve since Everybody Wants Some!!? 

Richard Linklater: The greatest thing about getting to do this over all these years, when you work with someone you like and if the planets align, you get to work with them again, it’s just wonderful. It’s relaxing working with Glen. Ten years ago during Everybody Wants Some!! Glen came and auditioned, I had a part that I thought would be very difficult to cast. He was really smart and charming.

I worked with him when he was young, like a high school kid. But he came in and I knew what he was doing over the years. I saw him in movies. I was just seeing this force of nature. We had such a great creative time doing Hit Man. It has been just a wonderful experience. After the first movie I wanted to keep going, I couldn’t wait to work with him again. And he did just one day of shooting on another film, just to do me a favor, when he called me with this, it was off to the races creatively because he’s just fun to work with. Great collaborator.

Glen Powell:  This process has been the easiest. It hasn’t been like development from pre-production to production and post-production. It’s been this wonderful flow where nothing ever feels over-thought. The wonderful thing about writing with Rick is that the conversations become wonderful pages, friendship, and work blend in this kind of effortless way.

It’s what makes him magical as a filmmaker. He’s never attacking a story. He lets the story reveal itself. And when he casts actors he truly allows them to come into the process. And there’s this wonderful room for life that he gives everything. I’d love to keep doing this till our fingers just freeze up on the keyboard.

Q : The scene with the text messages where everyone pretends to be someone else is the most loved and applauded by the audience. Can you explain how you pull that off?

Glen Powell: Rick and I knew that we had to put Gary in an impossible place like any good thriller would do. You write your character into a corner and have to figure out a way to get him out. We had a lot of different iterations of how that could work. It was the team sport mentality, just continuing to think what’s the best version of this scene, what’s going to make it effective? This makeup scene is different because at the heart of it, there is love language, which is role-play.

The fun part about it is the wish fulfillment of the movie. It also allows the audience to fall again in love with the reason they fell in love in the first place. The core of the scene is Adrias’ performance, she never gives up on the movie, never gives up on the script, she keeps challenging everything. It was so amazing to see her step up and make that scene work so wonderfully. It’s not an easy scene.

Adria Arjona: We spoke about that scene so much, all three of us. It was a tough scene. As Glen said there were so many different iterations of how we might do it, once we started getting the feeling that it was going to be a phone. everything lined up. There is an element of surprise when I’m acting within an acting.

There was this acting voice that we were doing, something that was concerning for me, for it to sound believable to the people in the van. We had all these questions locked in rehearsal. The day that we filmed it, it felt like we had this perfect choreography, we had this dance so locked down, but we hadn’t heard the music yet.

So when we first heard that first action all of a sudden I started seeing Glen guide me through this scene in such a seamless way. My job was to follow his lead as much as I could. It was one of those scenes where we didn’t stop looking at each other. I looked at every gesture that he made and it triggered something in me.

It’s a scene where teamwork is so important and so crucial. I don’t think I’ve done that before. You aspire to be the best listener you can when you shoot a movie, that’s what acting is all about. In this scene we had to be symbiotic for it to work, it was so much fun. We didn’t shoot it for that long because we rehearsed it and talked about it so much. We had a short schedule, a few hours.

Which is so crazy when you watch the movie. That says a lot about the way that Rick works in his process. Everything is locked down in rehearsals. So by the time you’re on set, there’s no doubt. There’s no figuring things out. You know exactly what you’re doing and for me it was so refreshing because I could go to sleep every day at peace. I wish more people could work like that.

Richard Linklater: We were never complacent even on the page and in the rehearsal. It’s a good example of how we try to get to perfection. What we think is perfection or good enough, and we just keep going. There’s going to be a new layer, we’re going to find some new gestures. We’re going to have a new good idea.

So you don’t stop and get complacent. In movies it’s all about craft, I’m not worried that we’re going to leave the performance in the rehearsal stage. That’s not what professionals do. So we got there and we kept going and we kept going. We knew at the very end that that was it.

Q : Despite all the success you are all having, what keeps you grounded about your job?  

Richard Linklater: What keeps me grounded is a low budget and a tight schedule.  Very much grounded.

Glen Powell: I remember writing this with Rick, we took this movie out and no one got it. Literally, we took this script out, we were so proud of it, and so excited about what it said about identity and passion. We thought it was so universal and exciting, confident it was going to be an audience movie, and then it was just crickets. No one got it. Nobody responded to it because it didn’t fit into one box.

We were trying to do something original. I’m just so proud of this, we got to make this movie independently, make the movie that we wanted to make. It doesn’t subscribe to any genre. It doesn’t fit into any box. The reason it’s a great audience movie, the reason people are responding to it is you can’t get out of it. You can’t predict it.

I think that’s one of the things that define Rick on a great level. He goes into Hollywood so sparingly that it keeps it pure and it doesn’t pollute his brain or his authenticity. His artistic integrity.  In Texas, it’s like marching to the beat of your own drum, like trusting your own instincts.

Rick has figured out and eventually, I’d love to have my own ranch where you get to bring people to rehearse and watch movies and create stories. The more you can stay out on your own and cook things up with people that you believe in, with stories you believe in, that’s how you have a long run.

Hit Man 3

@Courtesy of Netflix

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