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Why Top Gun: Maverick’s Glen Powell Had To Change His Character’s Original Call Sign Before Filming Began

The young cast working in tandem with Tom Cruise in the upcoming sequel Top Gun: Maverick have call signs that describe their personalities and flight traits. Cruise’s character, Pete Mitchell, goes by “Maverick” because he rarely follows the rules. Miles Teller’s pilot sports the call sign “Rooster”, probably in reference to him being the son of Anthony Edwards’ Goose from the original film. And Teller’s chief rival in the film, in a battle of wits and egos, is Glen Powell’s “Hangman,” though the actor tells CinemaBlend that he didn’t start out with that call sign and he had a very good reason for changing it. 

Glen Powell sat down with us in San Diego as part of the World Premiere for Top Gun: Maverick, where the full cast talked about the intense flight training that Tom Cruise put them through, and Cruise himself told us about the importance of Lady Gaga’s original song “Hold My Hand” for the movie’s soundtrack. When we got around to discussing call signs, and whether everyone liked the one that they were given in the screenplay, Powell told us:

I got to actually come up with mine. When I first got the job, immediately my original call sign was Slayer. And in the first Navy briefing, they were like, ‘You know, these are Air Force call signs, and these are Navy call signs. There are Air Force call signs like Slayer and Spine Ripper.’ And I was like, ‘Well, I gotta change this! This is an Air Force call sign.’ So I went down to Miramar, stayed with some Naval aviators, and really just riffed on what that was going to be. So that was… (Joseph) Kosinski, (Chris) McQuarrie and I all came up with ‘Hangman.’

To make things even cooler, Glen Powell really seemed to embrace the call sign “Hangman,” and everything that comes with it. On the day of the press tour, as he approached the room where he was going to be conducting interviews with his Top Gun: Maverick costars, Powell was blasting this song on his phone, laughing the entire time:

This goes to show how well the cast of Top Gun: Maverick get along, whether they are training intensely for the shirtless beach football scene in the movie, or they are surprising co-stars with impromptu flights during scenes that never were supposed to leave the tarmac. That sense of camaraderie and fun are leading to Top Gun: Maverick receiving excellent reviews from critics lucky enough to already see it. 

You won’t have to wait very long to see “Hangman” in action, as the long-awaited Top Gun sequel finally roars into theaters this Memorial Day weekend. Be sure to scan our guide to 2022 Movie Releases to see what other features are coming your way for the rest of the year, so you can plan your viewing accordingly.

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.