Top Gun: Maverick’s Director Explains Why Tom Cruise Is So Similar To His Pilot Character

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

A committed work ethic, a love for aviation, and a motivation to constantly push the envelope of what’s possible in film is what makes Tom Cruise the action movie star he is, in my opinion. These qualities, you’ll notice are super similar to his Top Gun character Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. And as the Top Gun: Maverick director Joseph Kosinski revealed, of all the characters Cruise has played Maverick is the closest to the actor’s actual personality. 

In an interview with The Guardian, Kosinski was talking about working closely with Cruise on the production, and he specifically spoke about how the actor mentored the younger members of the cast. This led to the director noting just how similar Cruise is to Maverick, he explained:  

Of all the characters he’s played, I think Maverick might be kind of the closest to his real personality. He’s always pushing the envelope. The young actors were so curious to just pick his brain. Here’s a guy who has the career that they all dream about and he’s willing to talk about how he got there.

Like Maverick, in the long-awaited sequel, Cruise put the young cast through crazy training to prepare them for the planes, and he acted as their mentor. Kosinski recalled a story that really showed the parallels between Cruise and his character, explaining the conversation the Mission Impossible star had with Glen Powell who played Hangman in the film, but he had auditioned for Rooster

Glen [Powell] read for the part of Rooster and didn’t get it; Miles Teller did. He didn’t want the part of Hangman; he wanted the lead. Then Tom explained to him that as a young actor, you have to choose great movies, not great roles. It totally changed Glen’s approach.

This tough advice and continued support is something Maverick does for his young pilots throughout the film, and Cruise provided for the Top Gun: Maverick cast

Another similarity came up when Kosinski was asked what people “fail to appreciate” about the action movie star. He answered with the actor’s committed work ethic, one that is similar to the dedicated and daring pilot he plays. The director said: 

Everyone knows he gives 110% every day. But the amount of work it takes to make movies like this requires a level of commitment that’s pretty astonishing. He just never gives up.

Similar to Maverick pushing the boundaries of flying during Top Gun, Cruise has been pushing the boundaries of action in film for a lot of his career, especially when it comes to the Mission: Impossible movies. 

Over the years Cruise has proved time and time again that he wants to fly past the limits of what’s possible in film. Guess what? He did this once again as he shared the backstory behind the seemingly impossible stunt that will be featured in the upcoming Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, Part One. From jumping off a cliff on a motorcycle, to holding onto the edge of a flying plane, to doing a HALO jump, things just keep getting more, and more extreme with these movies. 

So, beyond daring stunts, like jumping out of planes and the fact that he's actually a pilot, Cruise’s work ethic, drive to help younger actors and love for all things extreme proves that he’s pretty darn similar to Maverick. 

You can see all the similarities for yourself by checking out the most successful movie on the 2022 movie schedule, Top Gun: Maverick with a Paramount+ subscription

Riley Utley
Weekend Editor

Riley Utley is the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. She has written for national publications as well as daily and alt-weekly newspapers in Spokane, Washington, Syracuse, New York and Charleston, South Carolina. She graduated with her master’s degree in arts journalism and communications from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. Since joining the CB team she has covered numerous TV shows and movies -- including her personal favorite shows Ted Lasso and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. She also has followed and consistently written about everything from Taylor Swift to Fire Country, and she's enjoyed every second of it.