Home Movies

How old was Tom Cruise in ‘Top Gun’ and ‘Top Gun: Maverick?’

Somehow he seems both too young and too old to be flying a fighter jet.

Tom Cruise 'Top Gun: Maverick'
Photo via Paramount Pictures/@cedricdumler

Tom Cruise is no stranger to box-office success, but 2022’s Top Gun: Maverick takes the cake in terms of the actor’s biggest blockbuster, which is quite the accomplishment considering the A-lister filmed the original Top Gun a full 36 years earlier.

Recommended Videos

Ever the action movie star, Cruise is known for not relying on CGI to do carry out his stunt work, even if that sometimes leads to injury. While there were trained Navy pilots actually piloting the jets in Maverick, Cruise was still flying around in an F-18 Super Hornet, which is impressive to say the least, especially considering the huge amount of time that had passed since the first one. Naturally, that begs the question of just how old Cruise was when he was climbing inside the cockpit. Both times.

Tom Cruise’s age in Top Gun

Kelly McGillis and Tom Cruise
Kelly McGillis and Tom Cruise in Top Gun

The first Top Gun was directed by Tony Scott and released in 1986. Tom Cruise was a young man at this point in his life, as he was born in 1962, making him only 24 years old when the movie was released.

The film followed Lieutenant Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, a hotshot United States Naval Aviator — played by Cruise — as he is sent to attend TOPGUN, the Naval Fighter Weapons School. Alongside him is Lieutenant Nick “Goose” Bradshaw, played by Anthony Edwards, who dies halfway through the film, as well as his rival, Lieutenant Tom “Iceman” Kazansky, played by Val Kilmer. 

The fresh-faced Cruise had already been knocking around Hollywood since 1981, in such films as Risky Business and Legend, but it was Top Gun that manifested him as a bonafide action hero before his 25th birthday.

Tom Cruise’s age in Top Gun: Maverick

Tom Cruise 'Top Gun: Maverick'
Photo via Paramount Pictures/@cedricdumler

Finally, almost half of his lifetime later, Cruise returned to one of his most iconic roles in Top Gun: Maverick. Directed by Joseph Kosinski, the legacy sequel continues the story of the titular character, who is now a captain, as he is picked to instruct a new team of pilots for a dangerous mission. Among these expert pilots is Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw, the son of Goose, Maverick’s late best friend.

Cruise’s age in Maverick is interesting in that he was technically 57 years old when the movie finished filming in 2019, but due to delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, he found himself at the ripe age of 59 when it was finally premiered in theaters in May 2022.

Those delays didn’t hurt the film any, however, Maverick generated an eye-watering $1.4 billion at the box office and was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It was repeatedly praised for single-handedly saving movie theaters while Cruise was deemed Hollywood’s guardian angel. Had it not been for that December’s Avatar: The Way of Water, he also would’ve had the honor of being the biggest star in the biggest film of the year. If you’re someone who believes Avatar‘s success comes from its immersive CGI alone (and not its story), you might say he still does.

It just goes to show, that no matter his age, Cruise still has his “need for speed,” which is something that all $1.4 billion dollars’ worth of audience members can appreciate. To see him in action, you can stream both Top Gun and Top Gun: Maverick on Paramount Plus.