Tom Cruise walked into ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ pitch meeting ready to say no to the biggest hit of his career

top gun maverick
via Paramount

Tom Cruise doesn’t make a lot of sequels, with Mission: Impossible‘s Ethan Hunt the one role of his career he’d played at least twice, with Jack Reacher being the only other outlier until Top Gun: Maverick came along.

Not that there hadn’t been overtures made in the decades since Tony Scott’s 1986 original first rocketed the young star to the top of the Hollywood A-list, a position he’s held onto ever since. It turned out to be the smartest move of the star’s career to agree to a return as Pete Mitchell, with Maverick ranking as the biggest box office hit of his career by some distance.

However, director Joseph Kosinski revealed in an interview with Collider that having spent so long turning down various pitches for Top Gun sequels, Cruise walked into the filmmaker’s one and only shot at convincing him ready to say no, until the promise of the dynamic between Maverick and Rooster driving the story captured his attention.

“The first thing I pitched to him was the Rooster story. That this reconciliation between these two characters set against a mission that would take both of them across enemy lines where they’d have to come together and fight their way back as a team, just like he and Goose were. That would be the story. And as soon as I said that, I could see the wheels in Tom’s head start to turn because he came into that room ready to say, “Thanks for coming, but I’m not doing another Top Gun sequel. Sorry guys.”

Kosinski was given 30 minutes between setups on Mission: Impossible – Fallout to twist Cruise’s arm, and it’s clear he made a hell of an impression on the veteran action icon. He’d spent so long knocking back Top Gun 2 that he had it in his head he was going to do the exact same thing all over again, only for one of the best blockbusters of the modern era to emerge at the end of the day.