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Top Gun: Maverick’s Cast Share Their Favorite Memories Of Working With Tom Cruise On The Sequel

Tom Cruise has been a Hollywood heavyweight for close to four decades now, ranging from early work like The Outsiders and The Color of Money to his continuing run as Ethan Hunt in the Mission: Impossible movies. For the past several months, Cruise has been impressing on the big screen through his reprisal of Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in Top Gun: Maverick, a movie the actor basically greenlit just by calling Paramount Pictures and telling the studio he was doing it. Outside of Val Kilmer’s return as Tom “Iceman” Kazansky, Maverick’s cast was comprised of new faces, and I had the pleasure of learning from three of the actors about their favorite memories of working with the icon on the sequel.

Top Gun: Maverick headed to Digital platforms recently, and to celebrate, I spoke with Charles Parnell, who plays RADM Solomon "Warlock" Bates, the commander of the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center and someone who goes way back with Pete Mitchell. Parnell chose to recall the first time he met Tom Cruise, starting off with the following:

There’s a lot of good memories working with Tom Cruise. The first thing that comes to mind is my very first day. It kind of encapsulates him. So my first day was a speech that Warlock makes introducing Maverick to the new students, and [Cruise] wasn’t supposed to be there that day. I do the speech a few times on camera, we do a few takes, and everybody’s used to relaxing after I’m done because we’re going to cut there and he’s going to shoot his another day. I’m about to go again, I see some activity behind a curtain, and it’s him getting dressed. And they’re like, ‘Do it this time, he’s gonna actually come in.’ The other actors didn’t know, I introduced him. Now mind you, I hadn’t met him because I missed the table read because I was working, so this was my day to meet him. I thought I was gonna meet him in a few days, but there he was and we didn’t even say hi.

I can only imagine how surprised Charles Parnell was to learn that not only was Tom Cruise showing up to the Top Gun: Maverick set on a day he wasn’t expected to come in, but he also wasn’t just popping in for a quick visit; he came to act out his scene. Parnell then described his first interaction with Cruise actually went down, as well as praised his co-star for how he brightened up the cast and crew’s days. In Parnell’s words:

I did the scene again, he walks up just like the way you see in the movie and you hear his footsteps, and I’ve been wondering if that’s the take they used because everybody kind of stiffened in their chair when they realized somebody was actually coming and they weren’t cutting. And then he did his speech. So I’m watching Maverick live, standing there on the side, and then he just drops all that and goes, ‘Charles, how are you? Welcome to set. I’m Tom.’ And so I met Maverick/Tom at the same moment, and that was pretty wild. That’s my first huge memory, but I have a lot of great memories working with him because he was great to me, he’s great to the cast, he’s relentlessly positive. He keeps your spirits up, he keeps you feeling good about what you’re doing the whole time, so it just lifts the whole spirit of the movie.

Next up is Danny Ramirez, who played LT Mickey "Fanboy" Garcia, the WSO to Jay Ellis’ LT Reuben "Payback" Fitch. For his favorite Tom Cruise memory, Ramirez also chose an early interaction with the actor who was reportedly paid $12.5 million for this movie, along with whatever comes from the backend  portion of his deal. However, this moment also doubled as a way to remind Ramirez that Cruise is human just like the rest of us, and one who rooted for the success of everyone on the Paramount production. As Ramirez explained:

There’s a lot of really good memories, but the one I’ll share today is the thing that kind of took down this veil of… he’s a superhuman already, he’s genuinely somebody that’s a superhuman; he’s Tom Cruise. But the first time that we’re gonna meet at an airbase, there was a PA that was like, ‘Tom’s about to land, Tom’s about to land in like 10-15 minutes.’ And so everybody got a little, like, ‘Oh my God, Tom’s about to land.’ And so we’re all waiting in this hallway; he lands, he’s saying hi to someone, and then that person, I don’t remember who it was, they leave, and he’s about to come up to us, but he takes a sip of water. He spills a little bit. There’s just a small little puddle on the ground, and with his foot, he just washes it away, pretending nothing happened, and then he comes up and says hi to us. I remember seeing that, and that took down the walls… he’s just like us. And then from that building point, he not only is like us, but he proved it and he’s one of the most compassionate, empathetic people. He wants you to succeed as much as he wants himself to succeed, and he really shows that every single day. So that’s mores the overall story.

Finally, we have Greg “Tarzan” Davis, who played LT Javy "Coyote" Machado, and like Danny Ramirez, went through some insane flight training for Top Gun: Maverick. Davis fondly recalled listening to Tom Cruise talk about his experiences with the veteran actors from when he was starting out in the business. Here’s how Davis put it:

My favorite moments on set with Tom was like after set, when we would wrap and we’d all huddle up and he’ll tell us stories about the old times…. about his experiences growing up. I thought that was the coolest thing to hear because you read about it in books, you see in on YouTube, but to hear it from the person who actually experienced it and met these icons and what it was like for him to work with great icons of his time, in our position, was truly special, and I think that took down the walls too.

Among the other actors who spent time with Tom Cruise on Top Gun: Maverick were Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Ed Harris, Glen Powell, Monica Barbaro (who especially impressed the movie’s aerial team), Lewis Pullman, Bashir Salahuddin and Manny Jacinto. Joseph Kosinski, who previously worked with Cruise on Oblivion, directed the feature, and Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer and Christopher McQuarrie, the latter of whom has been collaborating with Cruise on the Mission: Impossible film series for many years now, all worked on the script. In addition to Maverick being met with critical acclaim, it’s still the only 2022 movie release that’s crossed $1 billion worldwide.

Along with its digital release, Top Gun: Maverick is still playing in theaters, and it comes out on 4K, Blu-ray and DVD on November 1. It hasn’t been announced yet when the sequel will become available to stream with a Paramount+ subscription, but we'll pass along that information when it arrives.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.