On May 25, Tom “Maverick” Cruise is back at the controls of “Top Gun”, three decades after the release of the film that made him a star. Here is everything you need to know about the feature film event, in 20 anecdotes guaranteed without spoilers.
Thirty six years. It took thirty-six years between Tom Cruise’s last lap in Top Gun and his new aerial ballet in Maverick. Three decades during which the actor confirmed his status as a major star of the cinema planet, while reflecting on the best way to reconnect with the role that made him a world star in 1986.
“Tom is Maverick and Maverick is Top Gun. Maverick is carrying on a legacy, and Tom Cruise is carrying on a legacy”, soberly explains producer Jerry Bruckheimer*, who accompanies him on this adventure. As the pilot prepares to take off on May 25 on French screens, a look back in twenty behind-the-scenes anecdotes from this extraordinary production.
*Comments taken from the press kit
Requested by fans (and the studio), the sequel to Top Gun is mentioned from the planetary box of the first film. It will take more than thirty years to see the light of day, 36 years to be exact with the postponements linked to COVID. The release has thus been postponed no less than five (!) times: expected for summer 2019, maverick was postponed to summer 2020, then successively December 2020, July 2021 and November 2021 to finally land in May 2022 on screens around the world.
The return of the old
Tom Cruise (“Maverick”) and Val Kilmer (“Iceman”) are the only two comedians in Top Gun to return later. They are accompanied by the producer Jerry Bruckheimeralready at the controls of the original film in 1986, and Harold Faltermeyer, composer of the emblematic music of the feature film.
“To him the intoxication of speed…”
Tom Cruise flew his aircraft himself, after following September 2018 a ASTC (Aviation Survival Training Curriculum) complete on the Miramar military base where a large part of Top Gun. For the needs of maverick, he notably took off several times from an aircraft carrier, for as many landings. Unheard of in the history of cinema.
Tom Cruise at the controls
In a scene from maverick, Tom Cruise pilots his own plane, a Mustang P-51 warbird. Passionate about aviation, pilot emeritus, the actor was initiated by director Sydney Pollack whom he had met in the early 80s before playing under his direction in La Firme (1993). “I had worked so hard on this film, seven days a week, that I never had time to learn how to fly,” recalls Tom Cruise*. “So at the end of filming, Sydney offers me flying lessons and says, ‘You have to learn to fly now, or you never will. I know it’s one of your passions, do This is gonna take you forever…’ Six weeks later, I took Sydney out to dinner and he was like, ‘You motherfucker! Did you learn to fly that fast?’ answered: ‘Yes, but it was very hard’. He just gave me a ‘Fuck you…’.”
Cashing in the “G”s
Young recruits from Top Gun Maverick followed a five-month advanced training, in order to be able to take the filming of the aerial sequences and the “G” caused by the maneuvers of their pilots. Their program was personally supervised by Tom Cruise*, who pledged to the Navy that “his men would be ready”.
No CGI, no streaming
The producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Tom Cruise categorically refused that maverick uses computer-generated images to deliver the most authentic experience possible. They also opposed proposals from different streaming platforms at the time of the pandemic, in order to reserve the film for the big screen.
Stronger than “Lord of the Rings”
Each flight was equipped with six cameras, at the rate of four to six flights per day: it could thus happen that twenty-seven cameras (!) were running simultaneously. In the end, the filming of Top Gun Maverick has generated over 800 hours of rushes and footage, more than the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy! Enough to provide a titanic job for chief editor Eddie Hamilton, passionate about Top Gun who claims to have seen the original film six times when it was released in 1986.
To the tune of Lady Gaga
The film’s song, Hold My Hand, is by Lady Gaga and was written specifically for the film by the singer and BloodPop. The clip is directed by Joseph Kosinskywho got his ticket to direct Top Gun Maverick in Paris, on the set of Mission: Impossible Falloutafter a twenty-minute interview with Tom Cruise to pitch his approach.
“You are the son of Anthony Edwards and Meg Ryan”
The character of “Rooster” (“the rooster”), interpreted by Miles Teller, is the son of “Goose” (“the goose”), former crew member of “Maverick”, tragically died in flight in Top Gun. Tom Cruise presented him thus to the young actor so that he could best prepare his role: “You are the son of Anthony Edwards and Meg Ryan”. Miles Teller notably took an intensive piano course for seven weeks to be able to play the song Great Balls Of Fire in real life in the bar scene, like his “father” in the original film.
Rejected but recalled
Glen Powell, who plays pilot ‘Hangman,’ was among the finalists for the role of ‘Rooster’: Even though he was not selected, he impressed enough Tom Cruise and the producers with his audition to be offered this other character. Very disappointed not to get the role initially coveted, the actor however declined the proposal before Cruise convinced him to define with him this new recruit, as talented as he is arrogant.
A woman in charge
Totally masculine in Top Gunthe elite squadron welcomes a female recruit in maverick, in the guise of Monica Barbaro, alias “Phoenix”. A choice that is part of reality since women pilots have been authorized to fly in combat since 1993, where they were absent from cockpits in 1986 when the original film was released. “When I spoke to the pilots, they told me that they did better when there was less of a difference between men and women, when they weren’t really called ‘women pilots’ but simply ‘pilots'”, explains the actress*. Veteran of Top Gun, Captain Ferguson* thus confirms “Twenty-five or thirty years ago, we all looked exactly the same. We all seemed to come out of the same machine, and now we’re a cross section of America. Diversity is our strength.”
An air of Independence Day?
The character of the young pilot “Bob” is camped by Lewis Pullman. His father in town is none other than comedian Bill Pullman, who played the unforgettable president-pilot Thomas J. Whitmore, thrown into a dogfight with aliens at the end of Independence Day. Like father, like son !
It turns… and it returns!
The American football game on the beach in maverick, an obvious nod to the cult beach volleyball scene from the original film, was shot twice. Unhappy with the result, Tom Cruise thus imposed new shots on his young partners… who therefore had to spend night and day in the gym for a week to regain their lost physique after having celebrated the end of filming a little too much with great fanfare of milkshakes and beers!
The Admiral’s Daughter
The character of Penny Benjamin, a newcomer to maverick camped by Jennifer Connelly, was already mentioned at the turn of two scenes of Top Gun in 1986, through a dialogue between “Goose” and “Maverick” then between Meg Ryan and Tom Cruisesuggesting that the pilot had been fooling around with an admiral’s daughter.
The very first scene shot for the film is the race between Maverick, perched on his motorcycle and wearing his iconic leather jacket, and an F/A-18 taking off. It obviously echoes the same sequence in the 1986 film, which saw Tom Cruise disembark at Miramar on the handlebars of his two-wheeler.
The ghost of “Goose”
The reply “Talk to me Goose”https://news.google.com/”Talk to me, Goose”, launched by Tom Cruise to the “ghost” of his former friend several times in Top Gun Maverick, was the comedian’s very first line in the original film, as they are airborne in search of an enemy. A coincidence which was not rediscovered by the team until late, during the final editing of maverick, while the line of dialogue was likely to be cut off. “The line was chosen, and the result gives the impression that Goose is still there”, explains the screenwriter and producer. Christopher McQuarrie*.
It’s a bird ? A helicopter? No, it’s Tom Cruise!
The public World Premiere of the film, held on May 4, 2022 in San Diego, saw Tom Cruise arrive at the controls of a helicopter to land on the red carpet.
Back to Cannes
Top Gun Maverick was presented at the Cannes Film Festival on May 18, 2022, out of competition. A first for three decades for Tom Cruisehis last visit to the Croisette dating back to Horizons Lointains selected out of competition in 1992.
Top Gun Maverick is dedicated to Tony Scott, director of the original film (on which he will be fired and rehired three times!), tragically disappeared in August 2012 after ending his life. A private screening of Top Gun had been organized for him, Tom Cruise and the producer Jerry Bruckheimer in 2010, in order to launch reflection on the production of a sequel. “The sun is still setting, a game of volleyball is in progress on the beach, and the jukebox is full of timeless melodies,” explains Joseph Kosinsky*, the director of Maverick. “That first film is beautiful. Tony was making a blockbuster, but he shot it like an art film. The lighting, the gradient filters, the framing. There are moments in our film that are a tribute, stylistically , in the Tony Scott film. Some days, like on the track with Tom, the motorcycle and the jet, you had to pinch yourself, you believed it.”