Glen Powell On His Mom's Ability As An Actor And Fighting To Make Devotion Happen [Interview]

"Devotion," directed by filmmaker J.D. Dillard, will hit theaters this Thanksgiving, and one of the big reasons we have the film at all is because star Glen Powell ("Top Gun: Maverick") was devoted to making it happen. After reading the 2017 book "Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice" by Adam Makos, he was determined to play the role of real-life Korean War aviator Tom Hudner Jr., who fought to save the life of his brave and talented wingman Jesse Brown, played by Jonathan Majors ("Loki," the upcoming "Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania"). 

The Korean War is often referred to as "the forgotten war." We don't see as many films set during this conflict as we do with, say, WWII, but the true story of a powerful friendship and some of the most celebrated military men in the Korean War has finally made it to the big screen. I recently attended the red carpet for "Devotion" in Los Angeles and joined a handful of other journalists to speak with Powell about not only his fight to get this film made, but how his family is on the big screen with him again. 

'My mom, she's a coachable actor'

Powell often has his parents and family members in the films he does. His parents are in "Top Gun: Maverick," which I found out by talking to his mom on that red carpet several months back. I asked Powell if his mother is in this film as well, and he responded:

"Yes. There's a scene where you'll see Liz Taylor on the beach. Jesse Brown comes up on the beach and runs into Liz Taylor. My parents are right behind Liz Taylor. And my mom, she's a coachable actor. I wouldn't say her ability is natural, but I would say that she does deliver a very powerful performance in this movie in the background as a beachgoer looking for her towel."

The scene takes place in Cannes, France, while Jesse and Tom, and their fellow aviators are on shore leave. Serinda Swan ("Inhumans") plays Elizabeth Taylor. According to the book and the families, this actually did happen. Sadly, I didn't get to see Powell's mom on the red carpet this time, but make sure to look out for her in the movie. 

'I really care about this story so much and I care about these families so much'

Author Adam Makos, who wrote the book the film is based on, told me that he just signed a new edition of the book for Powell with the line, "We did it." He says that seeing Powell treat the real Tom Hudner Jr. (who passed away in 2017 at the age of 93) like a grandfather made him realize that Powell was perfect for the role. Powell was asked what it meant to him that his castmates were talking about how hard he worked to get this dream realized. He explained:

"I'm a scrappy, scrappy dude. I really care about this story so much, and I care about these families so much. People joke with me about that I just felt, like, absolute pressure by the families, but when you look someone in the eyes, and you know that the legacy of their family members means so much, it does get you up every morning and cause you to fight to get this movie made. 

And that's the thing: I did have immense pressure on this movie to do the story and do it right, and I'm just glad that I got to keep that promise. But it wasn't easy. It wasn't easy. So it's been a long time in the making. The fact that we're here tonight is just, it's hard to describe."

"Devotion" will hit theaters on November 23, 2022.