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Tom Cruise Surprised One Of His Top Gun: Maverick Co-Stars With An Impromptu Flight And Aerobatic Maneuvers While Filming

The upcoming legacy sequel Top Gun: Maverick has been receiving a lot of pre-release press for the aerial sequences captured by director Joseph Kosinski, as well as the intense boot camp leading man Tom Cruise put his co-stars through so that they could convincingly play Naval aviators who are worthy of the Top Gun label. Young guns like Miles Teller, Glen Powell and Monica Barbaro knew what they were signing up for when they took their parts in Top Gun: Maverick (including, it seems, training for the shirtless beach football scene). Jennifer Connelly, however, got a little bit more than she bargained for while filming a scene for the sequel. 

In the original Top Gun film (which you can stream on certain platforms), Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) has a torrid fling with his flight instructor, played by Kelly McGillis. There’s mention in the screenplay of a former love, Penny Benjamin, and we finally meet that character in the form of Jennifer Connelly in Top Gun: Maverick. But Penny owns a San Diego bar. She’s not flying planes. So during a scene that the actress filmed with Cruise, she didn’t expect to take off… until Cruise took over. As Connelly tells CinemaBlend:

I did not ask (to go up), but I did not say no! (laughs) I think it might have been Tom’s idea. He mentioned it to me when we were in the plane and shooting a scene where we were just supposed to be on the runway. You were never supposed to see us take off. And he asked me before if I’d been in a P51 before, to which I said, ‘No, Tom.’ And then he asked if I’d done any aerobatic flying before, to which I said, ‘No Tom, why? Should I be expecting to?’ And he said, ‘It’s just going to be very gentle. Some very gentle rolls. It’s going to be very beautiful.’ So that was how I found out we were going to be doing that aerobatic flying.

Normally, in circumstances such as this, I’d freak out. But Tom Cruise has been flying all sorts of aircraft his entire life. And when he isn’t flying them, he’s hanging on to the outsides of them!

Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Also, Jennifer Connelly ended up loving the experience, as she went on to tell CinemaBlend:

It was really amazing. And thank goodness it was with him as a pilot, for so many reasons. Because, what a life experience. But also, I have so much faith in him. He’s so skilled.

So much of that comes back to preparation, as well as dedication. It all shines through in Top Gun: Maverick, which has been receiving overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics, and recently got a five-minute standing ovation from the crowd at the Cannes Film Festival gathered for a premiere there. Cruise and Lady Gaga have been hyping up fans by gushing over her original song for the movie, and Cruise’s co-stars can’t say enough good things about working with the legendary A-lister. It’s all leading to an incredibly memorable time at the multiplexes, which you can start enjoying once Top Gun: Maverick arrives in theaters on May 27, 2022.

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.