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Top Gun: Maverick’s Director Explains Why Tom Cruise Made A Training Program And Put Actors In The Air

Tom Cruise as Maverick in Top Gun 2

Special effects have come a long way. From intricate clay stop-motion to the photorealistic CGI animation in such franchises as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a director would be hard-pressed to find anything they couldn’t digitally replicate. Well, almost anything. In order for the actors to properly fly fighter jets in the upcoming sequel Top Gun: Maverick, star Tom Cruise developed an intensive training program to launch his co-stars sky high.

Top Gun: Maverick director Joseph Kosinski (Oblivion, Tron: Legacy) recently chatted with Den of Geek about the production process for the highly anticipated sequel to the 80’s aeronautical blockbuster. As any movie buff knows, the flight scenes in the original Top Gun were nothing short of revolutionary. To capture that same magic for Maverick, Kosinski elected to actually put his actors on real planes, as opposed to a faux-cockpit on a Hollywood studio lot. While that may sound extreme, his reasoning is sound. The filmmaker explained:

You can feel the authenticity. You can feel the strain, the G-forces, the speed, something you could never capture on a soundstage, no matter how much money or visual effects you threw at it. It was a tremendous amount of effort and work, but you just can’t fake the results. I can’t wait for people to see it.

Now that’s dedication to an art form. But Joseph Kosinski is right: no matter how good a movie’s special effects may be, the real thing will always prove to be more compelling. In addition to real flying, Kosinski also did some negotiating to include actual Navy planes. He said:

We spent a year working with the Navy to get approvals to put six of these IMAX-quality cameras inside the cockpit. Four of them were facing toward the actors and two of them were facing forward, in addition to cameras mounted all over the exteriors of the aircraft.

While that sounds awesome, that authenticity doesn’t come without a cost. Flying a fighter jet is incredibly grueling, and it takes an insane amount of training to even step foot inside of a cockpit. That’s why Tom Cruise personally designed an endurance program to get his co-stars physically ready to fly. To prepare for his role as Goose’s son, Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw, Miles Teller (Thank You for Your Service, Escape from Spiderhead) engaged in water survival training in a device called the “dunker” - a machine that essentially does its best to drown its occupant. Don’t worry about the actors too much, though: Tom Cruise was with his co-stars every step of the way. Talk about a great wingman.

Top Gun: Maverick will premiere in theaters on May 27, 2022. Tom Cruise and Miles Teller will be joined by Jon Hamm, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly, and Val Kilmer, who's reprising his role as “Iceman.” Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more news about the sequel.

Rachel Romean

Actor, singer, and occasional dancer. Likes: fashion, books, old buildings. Dislikes: cilantro, the NJ Turnpike, sneaker wedges.