Glen Powell 'Puked in Bushes,' Feared Ruining 'Hidden Figures' on First Watch

Exploring the complex emotions behind an actor's on-screen role

by Zain ul Abedin
Glen Powell 'Puked in Bushes,' Feared Ruining 'Hidden Figures' on First Watch
© Rick Kern/Getty Images

Glen Powell, the 35-year-old actor known for his role in "The Hit Man," recently shared a candid revelation about his initial reaction to his performance in the 2016 historical drama "Hidden Figures." During an episode of the "Therapuss with Jake Shane" podcast released on Wednesday, May 22, Powell recounted his first viewing of the film on the Fox lot, a moment that left him physically ill.

"I remember watching 'Hidden Figures' for the first time ... and this was before all the effects were done, the music was in, the sound design ... and I literally left the movie and I puked in the bushes," Powell confessed. The film, which stars Taraji P.

Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe, portrays the real-life stories of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson - three Black mathematicians who significantly impacted NASA during the 1960s Space Race.

Reflecting on his role as the famous astronaut John Glenn, Powell expressed concern that his performance could detract from the powerful legacy of the women portrayed by his co-stars. "All these women put in these great performances, and I was like, 'I literally ruined this movie,'" he admitted.

Powell’s fears highlight the pressure actors often feel when portraying real-life figures, especially in a film that aims to honor such significant historical contributions.

Post-Production Realizations

Despite his initial fears, Powell noted that the final touches on a film could significantly alter its impact.

"But fortunately, once the music gets in there [and] it starts being polished a little bit," he realized his presence wasn't as detrimental as he had feared. This experience underscores the transformative power of post-production in filmmaking and the emotional rollercoaster actors may experience during the process.

Powell also discussed the broader implications of feeling inadequate in a significant role. "To be terrible in a movie about real-life people that need a real-life story feels like the most atrocious thing you can do as an actor," he explained.

Yet, this self-critical perspective is a common challenge among actors, especially when involved in projects that portray real events or people. Now, more than seven years after "Hidden Figures," Powell's career has evolved to a point where he confidently assesses his fit for roles.

He recently revealed in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that he turned down a role in the upcoming Scarlett Johansson-starring "Jurassic World" film. Despite his lifelong dream to be part of the "Jurassic Park" legacy, Powell decided against it after feeling that his involvement wouldn't serve the film effectively.

"It’s about choosing where you're going to make an audience happy and where you're going to make yourself happy," Powell concluded, highlighting the importance of selective role acceptance in an actor's career. This insight into Powell's professional decisions offers a glimpse into the thoughtful considerations actors must balance in their careers, aiming to contribute meaningfully to the cinematic experience while fulfilling personal artistic aspirations.