Paramount Pictures is peeling back the curtain on this year’s highly anticipated sequel Top Gun: Maverick, revealing six new images from the film alongside some new information about what we can expected from the follow-up. Tom Cruise returns to one of the roles that made him a movie star, reprising his role as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. But the story of Top Gun: Maverick finds the titular pilot returning to flight school to run some specialized training for graduates.
Indeed, director Joseph Kosinski—who brought a visual flair to Tron: Legacy and Oblivion—tells EW that the young pilots in this sequel are at a different level of training than Maverick, Goose, etc. in the first Top Gun:
“Those pilots were entering the Top Gun school for the first time. In our film, these are all Top Gun graduates who are coming back for a special training detachment — which is another aspect of Top Gun where they can go back for specialized training after they’ve already graduated. They’re at a different level of experience than in the first film.”
To capture the in-flight shots, the actors were put in F-18 Super Hornets outfitted with IMAX-quality cameras. But they couldn’t start out in an F-18, and the training process that they went through was actually designed by Cruise himself:
“The experience is thrilling but very physically grueling,” Kosinski says. “The maneuvers that we were putting them through to tell this story were not something that you can just jump in and do. They all had to go through months of aerial training. We put them through a training course that Tom actually designed himself. He’s a licensed aerobatic pilot, and he was thrown into deep end when he did the first Top Gun without any training. So he knew that they would need to kind of work up to that level. So they started in Cessnas and then worked their way up aerobatic airplanes then into small single-engine jets before they were in the Super Hornet. Occasionally it made some of the actors sick and that even happens to experienced fighter pilots.”
Miles Teller fills the role of “Rooster,” son of the dearly departed Goose and the character who forms the core of the film alongside Cruise’s Maverick. But in the photos below you’ll also see Danny Ramirez as “Fanboy,” Glen Powell as “Hangman,” Jay Ellis as “Payback,” Monica Barbaro as “Phoenix,” and Lewis Pullman as “BOB.” Top Gun: Maverick opens in theaters on June 26th.