Actor Glen Powell's Hometown Guide to Austin, Texas
Glen Powell belongs on your radar. Between a scene-stealing turn in writer and director Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!!, the much awaited “spiritual sequel” to Dazed and Confused (the film that put a certain other young undiscovered Texas actor by the name of Matthew McConaughey on the map years ago), and his role as misguidedly lovable lothario Chad Radwell on Fox’s Scream Queens, the Texas-raised actor is one to watch. I caught up with the star in his native Austin just as the city’s annual SXSW festival chaos set into full swing. All Southern hospitality and rambunctious, friendly charm, Powell generously offered up his must-visit list of local hangs. It’s good to know a proper hideaway when the circus comes to town—especially where breakfast tacos are involved. Keep scrolling for Glen’s guide to all things weirdly great about Austin—from shooting on location to the best late-night burger stand.
Fresh off the heels of the Everybody Wants Some!! SXSW world premiere and after-party (which allegedly involved chants from the film’s baseball team cast in the lobby of The Four Seasons into the wee hours), Powell deems Austin’s unique charisma is a fitting antidote to late-night revelry. “We’re in a great town for this,” he beams. “If we were in another state or city in the union, I’m not sure we’d feel this great. When you wake up in Austin, even the hangovers feel better.”
For a morning-after fix, Powell favors the city’s established breakfast taco culture. “I go to Güero’s all the time and Maudie’s to get my fix.” For a morning detox ritual, he relays his unbridled enthusiasm for the sprawling wonderment of Austin’s Whole Foods Headquarters. “The world headquarters of Whole Foods is one of my favorites. Man, I could stay in there forever,” he tells us. “It’s a whole destination in itself. It’s like a hippie theme park in there.”
On the bar scene, Powell recommends West Sixth Street's Rattle Inn. Prior to shooting, the cast clocked hours of dance lessons to master the film's multiple nightclub sequences. Given Powell's guy’s guy persona and propensity for being cast as a smooth-talking jock (see his roles in Scream Queens or The Expendables 3 for reference), we were surprised to learn the actor spent his youth honing musical theater and tap-dancing skills.
Powell divulges he still hangs out in Los Angeles with the friend who joined him in tap lessons growing up. “He remains one of my closest friends. We were the guys in the back of the class while people were taking it very, very seriously," he tells us. "We were actually pretty good. If there was a James Dean of the tap world, we were those guys. James Dean–meets–Gene Kelly,” he jokes. “We cooled up this thing.” Live music venue and dance hall The Broken Spoke is one local favorite worth checking out to get your two-step on.
“I have two sisters, and Austin, as a city, is almost a third,” says Powell. He hopes the town, the single fastest-growing metropolitan area in the U.S., will retain its primary draw—keeping it weird. “Not to disparage development, but the fact is there are certain little gems in Austin,” says Powell. “I’m not a big proponent of stifling growth or trying to be sentimental about things that you don’t need to be sentimental about. It’s just that there are things here that don’t exist anywhere else.” Torchy’s Tacos and Amy's Ice Creams are two Austin franchises that get a ringing endorsement from Powell.
A coming-of-age film shot on location across the Lone Star State, Everybody Wants Some!! follows a college baseball team at a fictional southeast Texas university. As the loose continuum of Linklater's 1993 hit, Texas itself is practically a character. “I don’t think Texas is something you can just copy and paste into a movie," says Powell. Indeed, half the cast is from Texas. “There’s kind of a magic to Texans that is pretty difficult to create if you’re not from here. It comes out in the way you walk and talk, and in the way you treat people,” he adds, a sentiment shared by fellow Texan, director Richard Linklater, who teed up a string of mostly unknown actors for his ensemble cast. “Rick is all about authenticity,” Powell adds. “We call him Rickipedia because he’s so accurate in every bit of knowledge.”
“If you’re from Texas, you’re very, very prideful about being from Texas,” says Powell. The film's cast followed his lead, exploring Austin on days off from shooting. “I took the whole gang to Barton Springs a few times,” he says. The natural spring swimming hole, located a stone's throw from downtown, remains a consistent temperature of approximately 70° Fahrenheit year-round.
“Love me some P. Terry's and Salt Lick BBQ,” Powell asserts. Although Austin recently got its first In-N-Out Burger, he prefers the Texas chain to the West Coast rival for a late-night fix. (Note: The drive-thru is open until 2 a.m.) Located just outside county lines, famed barbecue joint The Salt Lick is often a last stop for Powell and his family on the way out of town.
While the city awaits the arrival of premiere minor-league football team The Austin Vipers, Powell insists checking out college ball is still a right of passage in Austin. "Everybody talks about sports here,” he says of Texas. “It’s in the blood. We got to take all the guys in the cast to a UT football game. That was fun. We played with Augie Garrido and the UT baseball team," he divulges of his on-set experience. "That’s pretty cool.”
“The reason Austin is not like any other city in the world is because it takes pride in being different.” That same philosophy trickles down into the city’s fashion sense, something of a modern mash-up of down-home vintage casual and relaxed, urban chic. On the whole, Texans don’t shy from a statement-making look, and Powell is no exception. He loved the garish expressiveness of his character's colorful on-screen wardrobe. In fact, he misses it. "Everybody wears the same sneakers, black jeans, and T-shirts now," says the actor. "The assimilation of culture has been kind of detrimental. I don’t think we have the same kind of flavor in this day and age that existed back then." To get the proper Austin look, head to famed Western-wear retailer Allen’s Boots on South Congress and the adjacent boutique By George for curated contemporary finds.
Overseeing the film's impressive wardrobe, Linklater amassed a vast library of 1980s-era clothing, of which Powell took his pick during filming. “Rick gave us the reins in a lot of ways in terms of what we wore,” he says.“We were doing rehearsals out at his ranch; then we’d pop back to the production office where he had three full rooms of clothes. We basically each got to go on a shopping spree around that space.” Perhaps because he hails from a city that wears strange on its sleeve like a badge of honor, Powell appreciates a bold fashion statement.
“Peacocking and a statement of style were a big part of the culture in 1980. It was about being colorful and different, showing who you were through clothes," he states. "I’m not putting down the plain black T-shirt look at all. I’m just saying back then, and when you look at scenes in this movie, it’s like a Jackson Pollock painting. It’s just beautiful, spattered with so much color and texture.”
Banger's Sausage House & Beer Garden located on Rainey Street
For a night out, Powell favors Rainey Street, which is located on the southwest corner of Austin’s downtown area, adjacent to Lady Bird Lake. “Rainey Street was where we spent all of our time when we weren’t working,” he says. “We went down to Rainey and got after it.” A former residential street of quaintly petite homes turned over into a string of bars and boutique restaurants, Rainey has the look and feel of a fantastically curated block party. As smaller businesses start to be ousted in favor of major developments, Powell implores now is the time to visit. “I hear the whole neighborhood is about to get overdeveloped. It may not exist in a couple of years.”
The newly opened Hotel Van Zant is conveniently located in the heart of the action. Glen's sister, Leslie Powell, a singer-songwriter based in Nashville, is playing a showcase at the boutique hotel during the festival, a gig Powell aims to fly back from his forthcoming press tour to catch. “She’s the real deal,” he says of his younger sister, calling her his best friend. “If she becomes a superstar, the world will be better for it. She’s going to have a huge year.”
Having relocated to Los Angeles, Powell has a couple West Coast go-tos he visits when feeling homesick for Austin. “There’s a place in L.A. called Home State that gets it right. It's at least a comparable breakfast taco in Los Angeles.”
As we trade notes on most Austin-esque eateries, I mention I recently met someone who claimed to know of a secret hole-in-the-wall Texas BBQ joint in L.A., only to fail to offer the physical address. “There’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and find it?” he laughs. “What a jerk! Just hanging the carrot and throwing it. The BBQ sauce–laden carrot!”
Winding up a lengthy chat with the good-humored and coolly unaffected Texan, one question remained: How would Powell’s preppy Scream Queens alter ego, Chad Radwell, fit in with the Everybody Wants Some!! crew? “It’s all about swag,” he muses. “Chad has swagger. He likes to be top dog. You probably like everybody in this movie better than you are supposed to like Chad Radwell. Nevertheless, Chad’s an athlete and he’s a bro. I’m sure he would fit in just fine in Texas.”
Everybody Wants Some!! hits theaters nationwide April 15.
Get acquainted with some of Richard Linklater's other films below.
Have a favorite Austin spot? Tell us in the comments below.