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Top Gun: Maverick Star Says Tom Cruise 'Set The Bar' In Grueling Training Sessions, But Explains Why Working With The Actor Was 'So Cool'

Tom Cruise as Pete Mitchell in Top Gun: Maverick
(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

While all the high-flying scenes in Top Gun: Maverick were impressive, another element that factored into the sequel’s mammoth success was the athleticism Tom Cruise and co. showed. This was best illustrated in the infamous beach football scene. That scene was nothing new for Maverick star Greg Tarzan Davis, who spent his high school years playing football before shifting his focus to acting. But of course, Davis and the younger stars and, according to him, Cruise really "set the bar" and was just downright cool to work with.

Fans already knew about the rigorous flight training Tom Cruise put the cast through (and the mere thought of it all is exhausting). Greg Tarzan Davis, who played Lt. Javy "Coyote" Machado, discussed the cast’s competitive nature while on the set of the blockbuster sequel while being interviewed by CBS Sports. He explained that the majority of the stars were former high school athletes, including the film’s leading man. Davis equated Cruise’s intense training program to an NFL team’s run from the preseason to a Super Bowl win. So in essence, Cruise was playing the role of quarterback. But Davis spilled that the Mission: Impossible star was more than that:

Tom Cruise is the quarterback. He's the coach. He's the GM. He's the owner. He's all of it. But what makes him so cool, he wears every hat on this film, from actor to producer to all-around filmmaker, but he was in the trenches with us every step of the way. So, you never felt like a disconnect of like, 'Oh, he's there and we're here.' He was like, 'Nah, I'm here with y'all.' So, when it came down to doing the flight sequences, and actually going to the room to debrief what we had done, he would sit there and break down his mistakes. He would fly so much more than us, in order to show, like, 'Hey, I'm trying to make sure this is correct, this is how it's done, so I can come back and say, if this is where I effed up, y'all try not to do this.' Or, 'This worked well, y'all go ahead and see if you can do it as well.' He set the bar.

Given how involved the 60-year-old Tom Cruise is with his projects, it’s no surprise that he was able to fill all of those positions without disconnecting from his castmates. Doing the daredevil stunts to show his young co-stars the right and wrong ways to flight high-speed jets sounds like something the A-lister would definitely do. After all, he does seem to be a natural leader. (Plus, he has a habit of performing dangerous stunts off and on camera.)

The Jack Ryan alum appeared to take being a flight instructor as seriously off-screen as Maverick did onscreen. He clearly wanted Greg Tarzan Davis and co. to know that he was with them during the learning process. They needed to be as prepared as possible when it came to flying fighter jets for the aviation sequel. That’s why the action star is where he is – he’s intense, but it all comes from a well-meaning place. And with that, the Maverick cast has plenty of great memories of filming the sequel with the Hollywood icon.

Greg Tarzan Davis, in particular, must've really gotten close with Tom Cruise, as he got the opportunity to work with him again on Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning: Part One. With that, he joins M:I staples like Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, and Rebecca Ferguson. One would assume that Cruise was just as much a leader on that set as he was while working on Maverick and, based on his movies turn out, I'm glad the actor does "set the bar" as he does.

Audiences can check out those intense air fight scenes from Top Gun: Maverick by checking out the movie in theaters or buying it on Digital HD. (Of course, there are also all of those practical effects Tom Cruise and Paramount agreed to utilize. Check out what other films are in theaters by looking over CinemaBlend’s 2022 movie schedule.

Adreon Patterson
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A boy from Greenwood, South Carolina. CinemaBlend Contributor. An animation enthusiast (anime, US and international films, television). Freelance writer, designer and artist. Lover of music (US and international).