The propulsive story of a hot shot group of pilots had dazzling aerial sequences that gave audiences a cockpit view of the action, as well as a star on the rise in Tom Cruise, fresh off his role in “Risky Business.” “Top Gun” would go on to make a then-massive $356.8 million, becoming the highest-grossing film of the year and propelling Cruise onto the A-list, where he has remained for decades. He reprises his role in this fall’s long-awaited follow-up, “Top Gun: Maverick.”
To mark the film’s 35th anniversary this week, Paramount is re-releasing “Top Gun” in theaters. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer spoke with Variety about the hurdles of bringing “Top Gun” to the big screen and why Cruise was the only actor he considered to play Maverick.
First of all, you have Tom Cruise whose career keeps getting bigger. That’s the magic of movies when you get a young actor like that in one of the first films of his career. Then you have the visual brilliance of Tony Scott. He was iconic filmmaker and his movies just hold up.
It wasn’t easy. We wanted Tom after we saw “Risky Business” and he kind of hemmed and hawed. So we arranged for him to fly with the Blue Angels at the Naval Air Facility in El Centro, California. He drove up there on his motorcycle and he had just finished a movie with Ridley Scott, “Legend,” and his hair was long and in a ponytail. And they took one look at him and thought, we’re going to give this hippie a ride. They took him up on an F-14 and flipped him and did all kinds of stunts to turn him around and make sure he never got back in a cockpit. But it was just the opposite. He landed and he walked over to a phone booth and called me up and said, “Jerry. I’m making the movie. I love it.” He became an amazing aviator himself. He can fly just about any plane they can make.