Richard Linklater cast Glen Powell in his new hitman film as he though the actor had the same type of shyness as its main character.

The 63-year-old ‘Boyhood’ director’s latest movie is action-comedy ‘Hit Man’ and got a hugely positive reception from audiences and critics when it was shown at this year’s Venice Film Festival, which wrapped up on 9 September.

It features ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ star Glen, 34, playing Gary Johnson, a college professor who secretly works for the New Orleans Police Department to expose assassination plots.

Gary poses as a hitman while the cops listen in, hoping that prospective clients hire him to pull the trigger on a target – leading to them being jailed.

It is based on a true story carried in Texas Monthly magazine in 2001, written by Skip Hollandsworth, 65, who also co-wrote Richard’s 2011 comedy ‘Bernie’ starring Jack Black, 54.

Gary adopts a string of disguises in ‘Hit Man’, making the film a metaphor for the process of acting, which Richard also said perfectly suited Gary’s real-life character.

He told NME: “We have it in the voiceover, where he goes: ‘I was too shy to go out for the school play.’

“So he found his audience (by pretending to be a hitman.)

“A lot of actors are shy and they’re hiding behind characters, and I thought, ‘Oh, there’s an element to Gary (like that.)

“So he finds that niche, stumbles into something he’s good at. It’s all about roles and acting and what is true. They’re all role playing. They’re all acting. But aren’t we all?”

Richard’s new film was screened in Venice as other hitman films were unveiled including David Fincher’s ‘The Killer’ and ‘In the Land of Saints and Sinners’ starring Liam Neeson.

The filmmaker said: “There’s a lot of hitmen movies in the world. I’d like to think mine kind of deconstructs the hitman thing a little bit. I don’t know if anyone noticed, but I’m saying they’re all kind of bulls***!”