‘Top Gun: Maverick’ aerial coordinator says Tom Cruise ups everyone’s game

top gun maverick
via Paramount

Top Gun: Maverick is among the year’s biggest cinematic events, with its status as a legacy sequel, sky-high box office performances, nods of approval from both film critics and the public eye, and its insistence on a solely theatrical release.

But the heart and soul of Top Gun: Maverick is its star and producer Tom Cruise, who first starred as ace Lieutenant Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in Top Gun. Now, Maverick finds himself in the teaching hot seat, preparing a whole new cast of lieutenants for a death-defying mission.

Cruise evidently plays the mentor role in and out of character, having acquired a pilot’s license back in 1994 and using his experience to help guide the cast in learning how to pilot the fighter jets, which was an integral part of the film’s practical effects and cinematography.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Top Gun: Maverick aerial coordinator Kevin LaRose lauded Cruise’s leadership, and how his own personal drive and high standards for himself had a contagious effect on everyone.

It’s not only fair to say — it’s the truth. Nobody did anything that Tom hadn’t already tried. He does that because one of his best qualities is that of teaching and helping others, giving tips to better understand aviation and the physiological effects to help perfect the performance. Tom is the hardest on himself, not only because he wants excellence, but he helps others around him kind of achieve that status, including myself. He’s extremely motivating. When I work with him, I get this heavy level of motivation to try to achieve the same level of excellence.

Top Gun: Maverick is currently playing in theaters.