A new featurette for the upcoming Top Gun: Maverick takes fans inside a grueling three-month pilot training module orchestrated by star Tom Cruise to ensure a high degree of realism for the film. Maverick is a sequel to 1986 blockbuster Top Gun, directed by the late Tony Scott.
In the nearly three-minute-long video, Cruise and his co-stars talk about the rewarding experience of flying in fighter jets, and how it prepared them for the movie. Cruise, who has a reputation for being rather hands-on on his sets, said that capturing the aerial footage practically was a top priority. In his own words:
“I wasn’t ready to make a sequel until we had a special story, worthy of a sequel, and until technology evolved so that we could delve deeper into the experience of a fighter pilot… We worked with the Navy and the Top Gun school to formulate how to shoot it practically. Because if we’re going to do it, we’re going to fly in the F-18s.”
The video shows footage of the actors experiencing intense gravitational force as they buckle up inside state-of-the-art jets. But the course wasn’t limited to airborne adventures. If you eject, you’re going to be able to survive underwater, the Navy told the actors. And so, they were made to go through demanding underwater exercises in addition to the pilot training. And somewhat unsurprisingly, it was Cruise who helped design the training module for his co-stars. He said:
“I started them out in single-engine airplanes, to build out their spacial awareness inside the aircraft. Next, we took them to the L-39, and they went and flew aerobatics to feel what it’s like in a jet.”
And after that, director Joseph Kosinski added, they graduated to the F-18s. The actors also had to learn how to operate cameras, Kosinski revealed, because they essentially had to direct themselves on the jets. Cruise took credit for this, too. He said, “I had to really teach them cinematography and lighting so that they understood what’s going to look good on camera.”
Cruise’s hyper-demanding work ethic is something of a Hollywood legend by now. The actor has spent the last several films—especially the Mission: Impossible titles—upping the ante by performing increasingly dangerous stunts himself. During this time, he has also developed a reputation for being a tough taskmaster on set.
His Maverick co-stars, however, seemed to be grateful for his encouragement. Also starring Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Lewis Pullman, Charles Parnell, Bashir Salahuddin, Monica Barbaro, Jay Ellis, Danny Ramirez, Greg Tarzan Davis with Ed Harris and Val Kilmer, Maverick will be screened at the upcoming CinemaCon and the Cannes Film Festival, ahead of its May 27 theatrical release. You can watch the new featurette here, and read the film’s official synopsis down below:
After more than thirty years of service as one of the Navy’s top aviators, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) is where he belongs, pushing the envelope as a courageous test pilot and dodging the advancement in rank that would ground him. When he finds himself training a detachment of TOPGUN graduates for a specialized mission the likes of which no living pilot has ever seen, Maverick encounters Lt. Bradley Bradshaw (Miles Teller), call sign: “Rooster,” the son of Maverick’s late friend and Radar Intercept Officer Lt. Nick Bradshaw, aka “Goose.” Facing an uncertain future and confronting the ghosts of his past, Maverick is drawn into a confrontation with his own deepest fears, culminating in a mission that demands the ultimate sacrifice from those who will be chosen to fly it.