Along with being the only movie of the year to cross $1 billion so far, Top Gun: Maverick has also been met with critical praise from both professional critics and general audiences over the last three months. Naturally one of the big ways the sequel stands out is with its dazzling aerial sequences, and following in the footsteps of those who worked on the original Top Gun, the Maverick team opted to take to the sky and put its actors in these planes rather than overly rely on CGI. But there were certain challenges that came to pulling off these moments, which I learned about from aerial coordinator Kevin LaRosa, who also informed me about why he’s especially proud of Maverick’s final sequence.
I was able to speak with Kevin LaRosa on behalf of the junket commemorating Top Gun: Maverick becoming available to buy digitally. In addition to explaining to me why he and the rest of Maverick’s aerial department were impressed with Monica Barbaro, who played Natasha “Phoenix” Trace, LaRosa went over how dealing with new technology factored into the making of this 2022 movie. As he explained:
As mentioned earlier, Top Gun: Maverick could have easily gone the CGI route with this movie’s flying, but as producer Jerry Bruckheimer recalled to me, before Tom Cruise called Paramount Pictures to get the sequel greenlit, the actor told director Joseph Kosinski that he wanted to “make it real” and have “everybody in those planes.” As a result, Kevin LaRosa and his team had to figure out the right equipment to use and adjust that could be attached to these planes and effectively capture the footage needed to make Maverick a captivating thrill ride. In the end though, LaRosa was pleased with how this aspect of the filmmaking process turned out.
I also inquired with Kevin LaRosa during our conversation about which stunt or maneuver he was especially proud of how it turned out, and the aerial coordinator selected the movie’s final sequence, which saw Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, Miles Teller’s Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw and the other starring pilots carrying out their mission to destroy an unsanctioned uranium enrichment plant and the nearby air base protecting it. LaRosa recalled what it was like to shoot this portion of Top Gun: Maverick thusly:
Along with coordinating Top Gun: Maverick’s aerial sequences, Kevin LaRosa also oversaw Tom Cruise and many of the other actors’ extensive flight training. He started them out on a Cessna 172, then transitioned to the Extra EA-300, which was followed by the L-39 and, finally, the F-18. However, as civilians, the actors were not allowed to actually fly any of the military aircraft, but thanks to LaRosa, they could if need be, and by the end of filming, the man described Cruise and the gang as “seasoned pros” able to “deliver epic performances.”
Physical media lovers can look forward to the 4K, Blu-ray and DVD copies of Top Gun: Maverick coming out on November 1. As soon as it’s announced when Paramount+ subscribers will be able to stream Maverick, we’ll share that information.
Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.
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