By now – and much to the relief of millions – you will have probably heard about how Joseph Kosinski’s Top Gun: Maverick is a high-flying triumph. You will have also probably heard about how audiences collectively lost their shit experiencing the first 13 minutes alone, how critics are calling the long-awaited sequel “even better” than the original directed by Tony Scott in every conceivable way. Perhaps you’ve even gleaned our own review published this time last week, which called it “the most fun you’ll have in cinemas” all year. But now, it’s time to hear from the people behind Top Gun: Maverick themselves in an interview BH had the distinct privilege of conducting.
“We definitely wanted to do another after the first one became such a success,” legendary producer Jerry Bruckheimer reveals to BH.
“But it took [director] Joe Kosinski – who came up with the story – we flew to Paris where Tom was filming Mission: Impossible at the time, we pitched him the story. Joe had a lookbook. He had a poster. And he pitched what you saw. And Tom loved it. That’s how we got it going.”
“After that, Tom picked up the phone, called the head of Paramount, and said: ‘I want to make another Top Gun.’ And here we are… talking about it with you.”
Bruckheimer adds: “On the first one, the US Navy didn’t want to have anything to do with us. The Admiral of the base in Miramar where the TOPGUN school was didn’t want us there. But Tom and I flew to Washington DC and met with the Secretary of Defence, and he said, ‘I understand what this could do for the Navy.'”
“That Admiral was replaced and we had some co-operation, quite a bit of co-operation. But for Top Gun: Maverick, they had open arms. Recruiting went up 500% after the movie. So we got their best pilots, we got their best advisors, they allowed us on the carrier — we did some phenomenal things.”
“Tom was in the F/A-18 being filmed. All the actors were in the F/A-18 being filmed… It took them three months in four different planes before they actually got to feel the F/A-18.”
Check out our interview with Top Gun: Maverick stars Jon Hamm and Miles Teller below.
Top Gun: Maverick Interview
A Chat With Jon Hamm & Miles Teller
Everyone’s been talking about how daunting it’d be to shoot the flight sequences thousands of feet above ground. But the prospect of touching a legacy as beloved and revered as that of Top Gun alone surely would’ve been terrifying enough. Was there a defining moment or particular element of this entire production that convinced you to sign on?
Jon Hamm: Sure. The main element was the fact that it was Top Gun and the fact that it was Tom Cruise. So those two elements combine to make it a pretty easy decision to want to be a part of. It’s a pretty out-of-body experience to be a part of something like this, that meant so much to me – personally – and my friends, and people of my generation.
It was a pretty seminal piece of filmmaking back in 1986. And while I wouldn’t say it made me want to become an actor, it certainly defined what it meant to be cool for a certain generation. And this is continuing that legacy.
Was every day sort of like a pinch-me moment?
Jon Hamm: [Laughs.] Yeah, yeah. Pretty much every day had some element of that. It’s a pretty special feeling to be able to work with an actor of Mr Cruise’s magnitude. He’s one of the last kind of true movie stars with a capital ‘M’ and a capital ‘S.’ They don’t make ’em like that anymore, really. It was pretty fun to come to work, I’ll say that.
So the novelty never really wore off?
Jon Hamm: Not for me. It’s actually still happening. Even when I do stuff like this and I look at the poster and think, ‘Wow… that’s pretty cool. I’m part of that.’
On a scale of 1 to 10, how relieved were you to discover you didn’t have to go through Tom Cruise’s pilot boot camp or shoot any scenes in the sky?
Jon Hamm: About 30 on that scale. Had I been about 20 years younger, that would’ve been an exciting challenge, I think. At my ripe old age, it’s probably less of a challenge and more of a… painful prospect. But I was impressed by all the young actors going through that. They took it very seriously, as they had to. And the results are right up there on the screen. It’s impressive what they accomplished.
So there wasn’t even an offer to have you up there to test some g-force?
Jon Hamm: There might have been offers, I think I politely declined [Laughs.].
Is this your way of telling us we shouldn’t be expecting a Top Gun: Cyclone?
Jon Hamm: [Laughs.] I don’t think so. That’s the sequel that no one’s demanding.
Top Gun: Maverick can be interpreted as a metaphor for modern filmmaking. Everyone keeps telling Maverick what can’t be done, how it’s all about the next-gen technology, how he should let go of the past, etc.
But, as we know, both the film and Maverick prove the naysayers wrong. Practical effects still have a place in cinema, the spirited rebel can still get the job done. As a Hollywood veteran, what’s your take on the current CGI-heavy landscape?
Jon Hamm: You know… first of all, that’s a very interesting take. I think it’s true to a certain extent. I think the advances CGI has enabled in storytelling have made certain genres of film much more vibrant and exciting. I don’t think you — if you look at the superhero movies back in the 80s and now, they’re very different. And that’s all great.
But what I think we’ve made is a movie about heroes and about exciting people doing exciting things that aren’t wearing capes. They’re not mutants or gods or monsters or anything. They’re real people doing real things. And I think there’s still plenty of room in the filmmaking landscape to tell those stories as well.
What was the process of training to handle the technical aspects of capturing your own footage on top of training to handle the G-force like?
Miles Teller: Tom [Cruise] kinda built like a flight plan for myself and all the other young actors that were going to be in the jet. We started in the Cessna, which is the basic aircraft that you start in if you want to get your pilot’s license. So we started with that and we kept moving up… the flight training became more and more aggressive. And yeah, it’s really tough, like you said, to get in a fighter jet with these pilots, and to sit in a briefing.
For us, it got to the point where we had to explain everything we were doing in an aircraft. Not just as a pilot, but also as an actor. And then also as a cinematographer, because you’re still making a movie, so you have to make sure the lighting is right, and continuity, and highlines, and all these kinds of things. It was a lot. There were a lot of things you had to think about when you were up in the jet but it was worth it. They didn’t think we’d be able to get one camera in the cockpit. We were able to get six in there.
Was the first thought every time you landed, “God… I hope I got that shot?”
Miles Teller: 100%. The way the cameras worked, you’d press ‘START’ on it. But there was a bit of a delay. And then a red light would come on and you were recording. Sometimes you’d press it and you weren’t quite sure you pressed it the right way, then the red light was kind of taking a long time. One time, I pressed it again and that’s when we realised that’s how you delete all the footage. Not for the whole movie. But for that flight.
That was the worst part… when you’d get back, if you deleted something, but also then watch the footage in front of Tom and [executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer] and [director Joseph Kosinski] and everybody, and then all of the Naval aviators, and then all the TOPGUN instructors. There was no worse feeling than knowing you had to reshoot whatever you just did because it was so tough.
Out of curiosity, how many Gs did you personally hit?
Miles Teller: On the F/A-18, we were maxing out on 7.5. In some of the earlier flight training, we were getting up over 8.
You would’ve been in decent shape off the back of shooting Bleed For This and Only The Brave, but you looked next-level in this. I remember when the paparazzi shot of you next to your truck went viral and everyone was like, ‘Holy shit… did you see how jacked Miles Teller got?’ What were the physical requirements of your preparation like?
Miles Teller: Yeah… I don’t even know if that was paparazzi. I probably had someone take those photos and I probably leaked it to the press myself [Laughs.].
It was really gruelling. And, honestly, the director told me, ‘Miles – in the first movie, Goose was the only guy who has his shirt on for the volleyball scene. So you don’t have to worry about getting into shape and all that.’ But I didn’t want to be like the… I mean, it’s Top Gun. I knew how much the other actors were training. Even though fighter pilots in real life, they could give two shits about abs because it’s more about tolerance. And flying is so gruelling. Yeah, it was a lot of work.
Top Gun: Maverick will be exclusively available to experience in theatres on May 26th – you can read our spoiler-free review here and watch the epic final trailer below.