Must Glen Powell Get in “Gnarly Shape” for His New Rom-Com?

The 34-year-old will be grand in the R-rated flick, Marvel body or otherwise

Actor Glen Powell, who will be starring in a new rom-com alongside Sydney Sweeney, at a press event
It's a great workout, don't get us wrong. But is it entirely necessary?
Chung Sung-Jun/Getty for Paramount Pictures

Glen Powell isn’t one to tipple while training for a role, but it’s got to be difficult to stiff-arm Golden Globes tequila. That meant that the 34-year-old star, fresh off a triumphant 2022 in which he starred as aviators in both Top Gun: Maverick and Devotion, showed up to his first workout ahead of an upcoming rom-com shoot uncharacteristically hungover.

“I’m so sorry, Eddie,” he said to his trainer, in a video posted to YouTube.

“What’d you have?”

“A lot of tequila.”

“Are you fucking serious?” Eddie replied, half-joking, half-so today’s workout is doomed?

It wasn’t, thanks to a stupendous effort from Powell, who cycled through reps of lunges, rows and presses (and even a session on the battle ropes) with aplomb — the majority of his Beverly Hilton drinks ending up on the front of his tank. At the end of his workout, utterly gassed, Powell said the exact words we were thinking: “I mean, Jesus, man…it’s a fucking rom-com!”

It’s a great point: Why in the world does he need to be in special forces shape in order to meet-cute, fall in love, mess everything up, then make a grand romantic gesture on screen?

How Chris Pratt Got Into “Jurassic Assault” Shape for His Latest Summer Blockbuster
The 42-year-old leading man stayed (largely) injury-free throughout three movies and six years of shoots. We have his secrets.

Consider that in The Ringer‘s ranking of the 50 best rom-coms of all time, Nora Ephron’s thoughtful, sardonic oeuvre takes three spots in the top 10: When Harry Met Sally (1), You’ve Got Mail (3), Sleepless in Seattle (7). How many of us cherish these films for Billy Crystal’s biceps, or Tom Hanks’s obliques?

As Powell shared at the beginning of that YouTube video, he will be filming in Australia, and he will have his shirt off at many points in the movie (which is why he’s determined to get, in his words, “gnarly shape”). Fair enough. He’s also starring alongside Sydney Sweeney, who will no doubt have to go through an intensive bootcamp herself in order to fit our collective presupposition of what romantic leads should like walking down a beach.

Obviously, R-rated rom-coms are known for showing some skin; look to “recent” successes (relative term — the genre hasn’t done too well lately) like Crazy Rich Asians, Friends With Benefits and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.

But those films functioned within a raunchier, glitzier, sunnier subgenre of the larger rom-com form. You could be worthy of love on-screen (that’s to say, worthy of a studio’s financial commitment) without looking like a Marvel superhero. Some other, dumber movie could devote more time to muscles than monologues. (Or, as is the case with Jason Segel’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall, you could find a clever middle road.) Now, with content giants tightening up…who knows?

Powell and Sweeney — each enormously popular on social media — have already been credited as rom-com saviors before even filming a single kiss. But couldn’t these fantastic actors, each with dramatic chops and comedic timing to their names (Powell even starred in one of the best-reviewed rom-coms in years, 2018’s Set It Up, in which he was decidedly not hulking), just show up to Australia as they are?

To quote Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones’s Diary: “I like you very much — just as you are.” That should be the north star for tomorrow’s rom-coms. Both for the films’ characters, and the people creating them.

Win the Ultimate Formula 1® Miami Grand Prix Experience

Want the F1 experience of a lifetime? Here’s your chance to win tickets to see Turn 18 Grandstand, one of Ultimate Formula 1® Miami Grand Prix’s most premier grandstands!