High flying pilots, the beach volleyball scene, and Tom Cruise were some of the things that made the movie an action-packed experience. Top Gun is for those who always dreamt of being pilots or flying a plane but never got the chance. The highest-grossing film in 1986 raked in over 350 million dollars at the box office.
The action sequences, stunts, and special effects made the movie a fiery sensation. Let’s not forget the incredible soundtrack to the film that has reached a nine-time certification. “Take My Breath Away” also won an Oscar for Best Original Song from the soundtrack.
How it All Got Started
The inspiration to create the movie was based on the “Top Guns” article in the California magazine that featured Lieutenant Commander Charles “Heater” Heatly. It seems people were fascinated with the life of fighter pilots at the time. The article mainly focused on the Naval Air Station Miramar, otherwise known as “Fightertown USA.”
The making of the movie had a rocky start as many screenwriters turned it down. Research for the movie demanded the writers attend Top Gun classes and fly in F14 planes. Bruckheimer and Simpson dismissed the first draft. The final film was very different from the original writing.
The US Navy Helped Out
The Navy read over the script, adding alterations to the film to stay more or less in line with the reality. Hollywood, however, had to make it more exciting for the audience. For example, Maverick’s love interest was initially supposed to be a female member of the Navy. This is forbidden according to navy rules, so they changed it to the civilian contractor.
They took the help seriously as they hired Rear Admiral Pete “Viper” Pettigrew as technical advisor for the movie. It was a logical choice considering he was a Vietnam War veteran, Navy aviator, and Top Gun instructor.
A Paramount Budget
The budget for the movie seemed limitless as Paramount spent 7,800 dollars on fuel for VF-51 and other costs, which would be 18,800 dollars if the film was made today. Scott Altman piloted an F-14 airplane who was considered one of the best at that time. He would later become a Nasa astronaut.
In the opening sequence, he was featured in the aircraft, otherwise known as the “flipping the bird,” and “buzzing the tower.” An astronaut and a stuntman; these were experiences he will remember for the rest of his life.
They Had to Perfect the Air Shots
Most of the airplane sequences were shot at the Naval Air Station in Nevada. Scenes filmed in the air were completed thanks to the Learjet and Clay Lacy, a legendary pilot and Astorvions inventor. Top Gun also encompassed the pride of America filming at locations such as Kansas City Barbeque.
Nicknamed the “Top Gun Bar,” it can be visited at the harbor district of Sand Diego, California. The bar was used when Maverick and Goose sat on the piano and “sang” “Great Balls of Fire.” The final scene where “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin” was also filmed at the restaurant/bar.
Special Effects Gone Wrong
To add to the dramatic flying scenes, particular airplane spins were required for the film. In order to complete the stunt, a famous aerobatic pilot Art Scholl was hired to complete the stunt. At a certain point, while filming a scene, Scholl communicated that he had a problem and could not recover himself from the spin.
He eventually crashed into the Pacific Ocean near Carlsbad, right off the Southern California coast. Neither his body, nor the airplane were found after the crash. Top Gun dedicated the movie in his honor.
The soundtrack reached the billboard top 200 for weeks in 1986 during summer and fall. The success of the music actually led to Kenny Loggins, who recorded the music, to receive international recognition. He recorded the songs “Playing with the Boyz,” “Danger Zone,” and “Take my Breath Away.”
Millions of copies were sold in the United States, and in 2000, the soundtrack was re-released. Two additional songs were added, “Great Balls of Fire” and “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.” Other songs included the “Top Gun Anthem” and “Memories.”
Percentage in Revenue
Ray-Ban urgently needed someone to rescue them in the early ’80s, and Tom Cruise was there to lend a helping hand. He first wore the iconic Wayfarers in Risky Business (1983). Sales exploded, a rise of nearly 50%, which was incredible because Ray-Ban was just about to stop making them altogether.
In Top Gun, the pilots wore the classic military aviators, and just like that, Ray-Ban was back in business. They probably should have given some of their profits to Tom Cruise, but I don’t think he’s complaining.
The First Pick Was Anti-War
Tom Cruise wasn’t the initial pick to play Maverick in Top Gun, which wouldn’t be such a big deal at first glance. However, Mathew Modine didn’t participate because he believed the movie focused on Cold War politics. A positive depiction of the US military wasn’t in line with the actor’s views at the time.
He wasn’t the only one. Val Kilmer also didn’t want to participate in the movie for the same political reason, but he didn’t have a choice considering he was obligated by contract.
Firing the Director
The first time Paramount fired Tony Scott was because they didn’t like his artistic take on the movie instead of commercial feel, “(I) shot in slow motion with graduated filters and that sort of artsy and dark and again esoteric,…” said Scott.
The second firing was for making Kelly McGillis look a little too “beautiful.” The third time was for pulling the visors down on the pilot’s helmets. It took away from the actors’ close ups, which wasn’t liked by the producers. In the end, he was finally rehired and finished the movie.
Goose Can’t be His Real Name
Goose’s real name was Nick Bradshaw, played by actor Anthony Edwards. There was a hint to the pilot’s name in the movie. There is a scene where we see his flight patch on top of his dresser. The dramatic sequence correlated to Maverick collecting his belongings after he died.
Aaron and Adam Weiss were twin actors who played Goose’s son Bradley. Other famous twins were also cast to play one person in the professional acting world, including Mary Kate and Ashley Olson from Full House.
It turns out that the house where Maverick and Charlie had their first date is real and still stands today. It can be found in Oceanside, California. The house was built in 1887 with a Victorian design now located on Oceanside Beach Resort Property.
Its original location was changed temporarily in 2019 as it was undergoing a restoration process at the cost of one million dollars, no less. It finally became a part of the resort in May 2020. In 2021, it was open to the public.
Good Acting by Val Kilmer
Remember the scene where Maverick shares his rare flying description of giving the finger to enemy planes? Lt. Tom, otherwise known as ‘Iceman’ Kazansky, gave a coughing reaction saying “bullsh*t” clearly undermining his abilities. In reality, the reaction wasn’t scripted, but the director liked the improvisation and kept it.
Later, Charlie shared that she thought Maverick’s flying was some “real genius”; however, she couldn’t say that with the rest of the pilots sitting there. If she did, it would give away that she likes him. At that moment, Cruise forgot his line and improvised a kiss.
US Government’s Involvement
The military’s image wasn’t doing very well in the early ’80s. Top Gun was released at a time that renewed Americans’ view of the army post-Vietnam. The Washington Post said, “The Pentagon worked hand-hand with the filmmakers reportedly charging Paramount Pictures just $1.8 million for the use of its warplane and aircraft carriers.”
To display the military in the best light possible, the writers were required to send the script to the Pentagon to make “proper” edits. After Top Gun came out, the enlistment numbers soared.
Top Gun Roller Coaster
In 1993, Paramount took ownership of Ohio’s Kings Island Amusement Park located in Mason, Ohio. It would make sense to make Top Gun a roller coaster considering it was an action-packed movie.
The Top Gun roller coaster mimicked the F-14 Tomcat from the movie. “Danger Zone” was played in the background while people waited their turn to get on the ride. The name was eventually changed to Flight Deck in 2008, and then following an update, it was changed to the Bat in 2014.
No Such Thing
It is no secret that Hollywood loves exaggerating sequences and adding a special modification to hype up scenes for audiences’ viewing pleasure. This was no different when it came to Top Gun. Firstly, as opposed to the film, Top Gun classes take place in an actual classroom and not in a hangar.
Another technical error includes the fact that there is no such thing as a Top Gun trophy. Thirdly, the MiGs-28 are actually F-5F’s that were painted black. There are other errors, but these are some of the key ones noted.
For the Viewers at Home
It wasn’t enough that the movie was successful in theaters; it also took off when released to the home movie video market. Remember Blockbuster? The lowest recorded price for the videocassette was $26.95.
Forget Netflix; this was when people had to physically buy movies at the store. For those of us who remember what this was, it was released on wide and full screen. It was eventually turned into a DVD, which also sky-rocketed in sales.
The Diet Pepsi Commercial
The carbonated drink wanted to get in on the action. In 1987, Pepsi released a commercial of Top Gun pilots holding a Diet Pepsi bottle while flying upside down. Pepsi paid for the commercial, but Paramount Pictures did exchange a short promotion in the movie.
The advertisement was added to all the Top Gun’s VHS tapes for a total of 60 seconds. The videocassette sales excelled, setting a precedent for the cross-promotion tactic noted by the Los Angeles Times, who said it was “the beginning of a trend.”
35 Years Later
2021 marks the 35th anniversary of Top Gun, which was repromoted by a theater release. Jerry Bruckheimer was also interviewed to get some insight into the making of the original. When asked how the movie has still stayed popular, the producer answered, “First of all, you have Tom Cruise, whose career keeps getting bigger.”
He reflected that Tom Cruise was a young actor whose career took off after Top Gun. He also spoke about Tony Scott’s brilliant visualization of the film, making him an exemplary movie maker.
Convincing Tom to Play the Part
Tom was a massive asset after Risky Business, so it was a challenge convincing him to play in Top Gun. Bruckheimer reflected on scheduling the Blue Angels to fly with him at the Naval Air Facility in El Centro, California.
Tom had shown up on a motorcycle with long hair tied up in a ponytail. The pilots did all the turning and stunts they could to steer him away from doing anything like this. However, once they landed, Tom was ecstatic and told him he would do the movie.
The Real Aviators
The goal was to try and make the movie as authentic as possible. That is why they recruited the US Navy to help them with the stunts and flying. The admiral at the naval military base wasn’t happy with the movie makers letting the actors hang out in the planes to understand what it felt like.
Cruise was worried his career would be at risk if something went wrong. So just like that, Bruckheimer and Tom got on a plane to D.C to get permission from the secretary of the Navy, who was glad to help.
Would the Movie Do Well?
When asked if he thought the movie would be a hit, Bruckheimer answered, “You never know. We had a preview in Houston. The audience was muted, and it felt like we had a flop on our hand.”
After the premiere, he thought the audience’s reaction to the movie was poor. However, he didn’t realize that the premiere was two days after the Challenger shuttle disaster in Houston, and many of the audience’s friends and family were involved. The initial reaction was poor due to the circumstances.
A Dream Come True
30 years after the movie was released, Tom Cruise reflected on the making of the film. He recalled that he had two dreams, wanting to be an actor and an aviator. For him, it was all about the beauty of the planes as opposed to the actual war.
“Freedom to see the world from a different perspective,” said Cruise. He remembers getting the opportunity to “fly with the best of the best” and mentioning how he hadn’t had such an experience previously. It was undoubtedly a dream come true for Cruise.
The Top Gun flying sequences were incredible and respected so much that even Chinese TV took to its liking. China Central Television supposedly aired an “excellent” display of Chinese fighter pilots on January 23, 2011.
It turns out that the footage was actually taken from action sequences in Top Gun. Once people in China noticed that it was plagiarized, it was immediately taken down. The broadcasting company also refused to comment on the incident following a Chinese campaign to remove such fake reports.
Other than becoming a huge movie success, Top Gun inspired other cultural awakenings. Hot Shots!, a comedic parody of Top Gun, came out in 1991, incorporating inspiration from other films in the process.
Other movies that inspired the parody include Superman, Gone with the Wind, Marathon Man, Rocky, Dances with Wolves, The Fabulous Baker Boys, and 9 ½ Weeks. It did impressively well at the box office; $180 million worldwide to be exact, which makes sense considering how well Top Gun did. Rotten Tomatoes gave it an 83% approval rating.
In Sleep With Me (1994), Quentin Tarantino performed a monologue hinting Top Gun’s possible homoerotic nature. When Bruckheimer was asked his thoughts about Tarantino’s reaction to the film, he said, “When you make a movie, people can interpret it in any way they want and see something in it that filmmakers had no idea they were tapping.”
He went on to say that it is a surprise every time people have unplanned reactions. He mentioned the camaraderie that Tarantino, Scott, and himself share, so the comments didn’t bother him at all.
Did the Screen Couple Get Along?
It has been rumored that Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis, who played Maverick’s love interest, didn’t get along. When asked about this, Bruckheimer responded with, “That’s Hollywood lore. It’s not true.” He mentioned that Tom kept his distance from the actress because he wanted the love story to grow naturally.
He recalled that Tom thought it would be better to let the love story grow without off-screen interference. “Kelly was a lot of fun, as were all the young actors who worked in the movie,” said Bruckheimer.
Top Gun – The Game
Numerous video games were released as a result of the movie. The first game released in 1986 had the same title. The second game released in 1987 was for Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and Nintendo Vs. System.
In 1996, the new version of the call was released for PC, followed by Sony PlayStation called Top Gun: Fire At Will. Other variations were released in the years following, such as Top Gun: Hornet’s Nest, Top Gun: Combat Zones, and were later available on GameCube and Microsoft Windows.
The Real Woman Behind Charlie
There was discussion to make Maverick’s significant other a gymnast as opposed to a flight instructor. Her character was formulated after meeting with Christine Fox, the former Maritime Air Superiority specialist.
She was supposedly the main inspiration for the character, even though she recalled it being “loosely” based on her. She recalled spending a day with McGillis, speaking to her about her work, so the inspiration must have come from somewhere. (From 2013-2014, Fox became the acting deputy secretary of defense during the Obama Administration.)
The Latest on Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise was spotted in Birmingham England in early September of this year as he was filming the new Mission Impossible movie. With all the rage surrounding Top Gun: Maverick, it seemed people tried to get a hold of whatever they could relate to the movie.
It was recently reported that his bodyguard’s car was stolen that contained a limited edition version of the script and Cruise’s luggage. The car was eventually recovered, but everything in the car was gone. The secrets behind Top Gun: Maverick are now in the hands of a stranger, it seems.
A 90s Stud
It is no secret that over the years, Tom Cruise has been considered one of the most sought-after men in Hollywood, not just for his acting but for his looks. In 1990, he was named the Sexiest Man Alive. Even Disney admired him for his good looks.
When they were drawing out the Aladdin character, the initial inspiration was Michael J. Fox. However, they decided to change him to resemble Tom Cruise so that women would be more drawn to the character.
His Married Life
Staying within the Hollywood circle, Cruise has been married to three famous actresses: Mimi Rogers, Nicole Kidman, and Katie Holmes. Two of his children were adopted when he married Kidman, and he had one daughter with Holmes.
Cruise married Holmes at the Church of Scientology in Bracciano, Italy. It has been rumored that the Church arranged their marriage. David Miscavige, the head of Scientology, was his best man at his wedding. Regardless, the couple divorced in 2012, and the terms were never released.
Cruise and Scientology
Tom Cruise is famous for being a forthright advocate for the Church of Scientology and its extended programs. He converted to the sector when he was married to Mimi Rogers, his first wife. He admitted to having converted in 1992.
Cruise struggled with dyslexia and believed that converting to the sector helped him overcome the disorder. Following his advocacy for the programs, Cruise pushed Scientology to become an official religion in Europe. He lobbied for its recognition in France, England, and the United States.
What About Kelly McGillis?
McGillis starred in other famous works, including Made in Heaven, The House on Carroll Street, and the Accused. For playing Rachel Lapp in Witness, she received both a BAFTA and a Golden Globe Nomination. She has also played in theaters such as the productions of Macbeth and Twelfth Night.
She was married to Fred Tillman, and they had two children. In 2009, she publicly admitted to being a lesbian: “it was a difficult journey for me to come to terms and be whole and happy with who I am,” said McGillis.
Val Kilmer aka “Iceman”
In the movie, Val Kilmer, otherwise known as Tom Kazansky’s “Iceman,” was Maverick’s rival. Post Top Gun, he starred in “Heat” and “The Doors.” Let’s not forget his iconic role as Bruce Wayne in “Batman Forever” that came out in 1995.
Aside from acting, Kilmer took part in the disaster relief of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He advocates for the protection of the environment. For a short time, he thought about running for the Government of New Mexico in 2010 but eventually decided not to run.
Anthony Edwards, aka “Goose”
You must remember Maverick’s Rio and best friend in the movie, Goose. Although audiences were devasted when Goose was lost, the real-life actor went on to have an incredible career. Following Top Gun, Edwards played in Miracle Mile and Downtown and later as Dr. Mark Green on ER, winning him a Golden Globe.
He moved away from acting for a while only to return in 2013 with Planes and later became a director in My Dead Boyfriend. He also made it to Broadway in 2018.
All the Details about the Sequel
Over 35 years have passed, and the sequel is finally coming out. The title is Top Gun: Maverick and is set to be released on May 27, 2022, in the US and Canada. It was initially scheduled to be released in 2019, but the pandemic postponed things.
Other than Tom Cruise, only Val Kilmer returned to play “Iceman,” who has now been promoted to Vice Admiral. There wasn’t too much explanation surrounding why the original cast wasn’t coming back other than they were simply not asked or were “too old.”
Insisting That Val Kilmer Return
It seemed that Cruise was the one who wanted Kilmer to return to the new movie more than anyone. Bruckheimer recalled, “We all wanted him, but Tom was adamant that if he’s going to make another Top Gun, Val had to be in it.”
Jack, Kilmer’s son, was ecstatic upon hearing that his dad would be featured in the movie. He believed the sequel “honours Iceman’s legacy.” It also seems like an excellent opportunity to watch your dad in an updated version of the original hit.
Why Do a Sequel?
Even though the movie is a sequel, the development surrounded the idea of reinventing the old film and creating an entirely new one with technological updates. For example, Tony Scott wanted to include modern aerial warfare, such as drones, dogfighting eras tactics, and Maverick’s character would fly a F/A 18 Super Hornet.
There was doubt if a sequel was going to be made, considering that Scott had committed suicide. Still, Bruckheimer was adamant about making the movie, considering how interested Cruise and Kilmer were. The official title for the new film was publicized in 2017.
A Whole New Cast
Fresh and recognized actors were cast for the new movie, including Miles Teller playing Gooses’s son. Jennifer Connelly was also added to the rendition to take the role of a single mother who ran a bar close to the naval base.
Glen Powell was eventually cast as a pilot trainee in 2018. Initial filming returned to a familiar location in San Diego, California. 15 film crew members boarded the Norfold-based aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln to shoot the flight deck operations. Tom Cruise was also sighted aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt at NAS North Island for production.
Playing Goose’s Son
Miles Teller, a modern Hollywood actor, has taken on recognized roles in Whiplash and The Spectacular Now. He shared that playing Goose’s son in the movie will be emotional. This probably has to do with Goose’s death in a training exercise in the first movie.
Teller also spoke about the difficult flight sequences and ariel stunts in the new movie. Interestingly enough, the original Top Gun and the Sequel did not use any green screens for their shots. In total, it took about a year to shoot the entire movie.
A Close Connection to the Military
It was very suited for Teller to take on this role, considering he comes from a military family. He also had a previous role in a military movie, “Thank you for Your Service.” He recalled, “The military is in my family, so portraying what they do comes with special seriousness.”
He also spoke about growing up in Florida, where recruiters for the military would come to his school, and that a lot of his close friends chose to join. He sees a lot of respect and honor in portraying such roles, including in the new Top Gun movie.
Other Notable Actors
Other new yet recognizable faces will be seen in the sequel. Jon Hamm, who stars in the Madmen and Ed Harris, was cast. As McGillis will not be returning to the sequel, Jennifer Connelly has taken on the new female lead.
Even Cruise was confident in picking her for the role: “She’s a great actress obviously” and “I think when you see the film, you’ll see why she’s perfect for it.” They rounded up the best of the best for the highly anticipated sequel.
Promotion of the New Sequel
On CONAN, Cruise recalled that part of the deal for being in the movie was getting a chance to fly in the F-14: “They had to film me flying in the F-14”, said Cruise.
When Conan asked about having actors that could handle the G-forces of the airplanes, Cruise responded with, “…part of making this film is I wanted to be able to shoot a practical” when they were working with the navy. The actors had to undergo testing to see if they could handle the level of G forces necessary for flying.
As if the stunt and ariel flying wasn’t impressive enough, the new movie will be adding technology that has yet to be experienced by audiences, “They’re using some technology on this that is never before seen. We’re shooting the movie in… I think 6K” said Hamm.
This means that the movie will be viewed in incredible high definition. The focus was to make the film practical, showing actual footage of the pilots in unreal ariel footage spinning around in G forces. We couldn’t expect anything less than daredevil Tom Cruise.