The young actor has worked with George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, and Tom Cruise. What’s next?
How did Lewis Pullman get his start?
As a boy, Lewis Pullman split his time between Los Angeles and Montana, as well as various locations where his father, actor Bill Pullman, was filming. While his parents encouraged creativity (his sister is a musician and his brother is a theater puppet- and prop-maker), they let the kids choose their own paths— however they got there. “My dad has this story,” Pullman recalls, his voice betraying a hint of a laconic Montana drawl: “One Sunday, we were raking the driveway, and a neighbor came up to me and said, ‘When are you gonna follow in your dad’s footsteps?’ And apparently I said, ‘Well, I just read a fortune cookie that said I’m gonna be an actor, so I guess that’s what I’m gonna do.’”
Which projects has he worked on?
Pullman, 29, started making short films in the early 2010s and soon landed the lead in the pilot of an Amazon Studios series, Highston, executive produced by Sacha Baron Cohen. The show was ultimately scrapped, but he went on to snag supporting roles in high-profile projects such as the Arnold Schwarzenegger revenge drama Aftermath, the George Clooney–led Hulu adaptation of Catch-22, and the neo-noir ensemble film Bad Times at the El Royale, which featured Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, and Chris Hemsworth. “I was robbing from Jeff Bridges every chance I could get,” Pullman says. “I’ve always idolized him—The Last Picture Show’s one of my favorites. They say don’t meet your idols, but he’s the outlier for that.”
What was it like for Pullman to work with Tom Cruise?
This month, Pullman reaches new heights with the long-awaited premier of Top Gun: Maverick, in which he plays Bob, the weapons systems officer for the F/A-18 Super Hornet flown by Monica Barbaro’s Phoenix. “Most people don’t get to experience what it feels like to pull 8.5 Gs,” he says of the flight training. “It’s like you’ve got a couple of rhinoceroses stacked on top of you.” Tom Cruise, of course, returns in the film’s titular role, and Pullman has nothing but praise for his costar: “I’ve never been in the presence of somebody who’s so passionate—his conviction is just powerful. And he was so considerate to all of us young actors. He was giving us the training that he wished he had on the first Top Gun.”
Among Pullman’s other projects is Outer Range, an Amazon Prime series currently streaming that he describes as “a metaphysical Western, like Twin Peaks meets Lonesome Dove in contemporary times.” Due out later this year is Salem’s Lot, a feature film adaptation of a Stephen King vampire novel that brings a sense of realism to the genre. “No one [in the film] has a hidden vampire slayer within them,” he notes. He’s also doing the indie thing, filming The Starling Girl, which is set in a Quiverfull community. But no matter the genre or role, Pullman can always turn to his father for advice: “Every project, I walk through it with him and get his take on it. I don’t trust anyone as much as I do my dad.”