‘Hit Man’: Netflix’s true-crime comedy nearly went to Brad Pitt

THE NEW YORK Bradley Cooper made a surprise cameo at the New York Film Festival the night before, and another big name showed up.

At the “Hit Man” premiere on Tuesday, Richard Linklater announced to the delighted audience, “I have a surprise for you guys. Glen Powell is in the room. Glen Powell, Sr.

Of course, Linklater was referring to Powell’s father, who, along with his wife and children, carried cutout photo boards of the “Top Gun: Maverick” star who was unable to attend the festival because of the Hollywood actors’ strike.

The thoughtful act was just one of many wonderful moments at Tuesday’s sold-out showing of “Hit Man,” which has swiftly gained popularity with viewers on the autumn festival circuit. Although a release date has not yet been set, Netflix purchased the movie last month.

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The film, based on a 2001 Texas Monthly article by Skip Hollandsworth, depicts the loosely true tale of Gary Johnson (Powell), a former philosophy professor who joined the police force as an undercover officer. Gary’s role is to pose as a hitman, meeting up with individuals who intend to carry out a hit and helping to apprehend them. Gary, however, runs into trouble when he develops feelings for Maddy Masters (Adria Arjona), a potential customer who asks him to kill her violent husband.

When “Hit Man” was originally published, Linklater, 63, read it for the first time. He had no rights, but he was keen to seek a big-screen version.

At a post-screening Q&A, Linklater revealed that Brad Pitt had at one point optioned the movie back in the early 2000s. “A script has been written. It merely sort of floated.

When Powell, 34, by chance learned about the original tale during the pandemic, the rights became accessible once more.

Glen contacted me and said, “Hey, Rick, I read this article,” according to Linklater. And I told Glen, ‘Glen, I read that article when you were in junior high.’ And we’ve only begun to converse.

Linklater’s “Fast Food Nation” (2006), “Everybody Wants Some!!” (2016), and “Apollo 10 12: A Space Age Childhood” (2022) were all projects on which the pair had worked together. Although Linklater had collaborated on the “Before” trilogy with actresses Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, “Hit Man” was their first time co-writing a script.

When Arjona joined the cast, she began working on the screenplay as well, and the trio practiced a lot before shooting last fall. Her selection was essential to the film, according to Linklater.

He replied, to laughter, “She had to check a lot of boxes. ‘Would you give up all you’ve worked for – your whole life – for her?’ is the question you must ask yourself in order to be a good femme fatale. Yes. That was checked by her.

The beginnings of “Hit Man” are so unbelievable that it might become a Netflix hit. With the 2020 true-crime series “Tiger King,” the streamer launched a pop-culture craze. The show portrayed zoologist Joe Exotic and his attempt to assassinate rival Carole Baskin.

“I always thought it was fascinating that hit men are this thing,” Linklater said. “It’s so ridiculous if you think about it. Like that ‘Tiger King’ idiot hiring a hitman!”

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