Tom Cruise Put His Top Gun: Maverick Cast Through Crazy Training

Top Gun Maverick
Image via Skydance Media

One of the many reasons Tom Cruise has remained a major movie star for more than 30 years is because of his commitment to entertaining an audience. He’ll do whatever it takes to achieve that goal no matter the cost. Heck, he’s even looking to make an action film in space.

While shooting Mission: Impossible – Fallout, he broke his ankle jumping from one rooftop to another. Doctors told him to stay off his feet for six months and also mentioned that he may never run again. Six weeks later, though, he was back on set to finish the movie. He had a release date to keep, after all.

Meanwhile, on the set of Top Gun: Maverick, it was business as usual for the star. In preparation for the long-awaited sequel, producer Jerry Bruckheimer said that Cruise put in the same amount of work and training but he also made sure his young co-stars were ready to play Navy pilots, too.

“He put the actors through this grueling process over three months so they could take the G-forces when we put them in the F/A-18s. It was really a tough slog for these young actors, because they also had to go through water survival training, where they are blindfolded and put in a water tank that’s turned upside down and they have to figure out how to get out. And Tom went through all the same stuff! They told me he went through that training just like a 22-year-old would – that’s how good he is.”

Of course, a lot has changed in filmmaking since the original came out, particularly in shooting the aerial sequences. So, in order to make it look authentic, Cruise and director Joseph Kosinski came up with a way to make the experience more immersive for the audience and part of that fell on the actors becoming more involved in shooting scenes themselves.

“In the first movie, we put the actors in the F-14s, and the only footage we could use was of Tom, because everybody else was throwing up. For Maverick, we put five cameras in the cockpit, so the actors not only had to act, they had to know when to turn the camera on and where the sun was to match the previous scene. They had a lot to do in that cockpit when they were flying these planes on sorties, which were designed by Tom and Joe. Tom gave all the briefings and all the debriefings after the shoot along with the great Top Gun pilots that we work with from the Navy.”

The sequel follows Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell (Cruise) as he struggles with remaining in the air while training a new generation of pilots. His hands-on approach becomes increasing volatile after he’s put in charge of a dangerous mission. A mission that also happens to involve the son of his late flying partner, Goose.

Cruise is teasing a movie experience unlike any other, but fans will have to wait a while to see it for themselves, as Top Gun: Maverick was originally set for release in June, but will now come out on December 23rd, 2020.