- Tom Cruise was mixed about doing his blockbuster 1986 film, “Top Gun.”
- Producer Jerry Bruckheimer said it was him flying with the Navy’s Blue Angels that finally sold him.
- “[He] said, ‘Jerry. I’m making the movie. I love it,'” Bruckheimer said of Cruise.
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When “Top Gun” came out in 1986, it thrust Tom Cruise into superstardom after the movie became one of the biggest hits of that year thanks to its thrilling realistic jet fighter sequences and the song “Danger Zone” from Kenny Loggins.
But the movie’s producer, Jerry Bruckheimer, told Variety that it took some convincing to get Cruise to sign on and play the movie’s star, US Navy pilot, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell.
“It wasn’t easy,” Bruckheimer told the trade, which is celebrating the movie’s 35th anniversary. “We wanted Tom after we saw ‘Risky Business’ and he kind of hemmed and hawed.”
Though Variety points out other actors like Matthew Modine, Nicolas Cage, Sean Penn, Matthew Broderick, and even Tom Hanks were being considered for the role, Bruckheimer clarified it was always Cruise they wanted to play Maverick.
So, to convince the rising star, Bruckheimer said they got bold and offered Cruise to fly with the famed US Navy flight stunt squadron, the Blue Angels.
“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,” Bruckheimer recalled when Cruise showed up at the Naval Air Facility in El Centro, California.”They took one look at him and thought, we’re going to give this hippie a ride,” Bruckheimer continued. “They took him up on an F-14 and flipped him and did all kinds of stunts to turn him around [to] make sure he never got back in a cockpit. But it was just the opposite.”
Bruckheimer said Cruise landed, walked right to a phone and called him.
“[He] said, ‘Jerry. I’m making the movie. I love it,'” Bruckheimer said.
“Top Gun” would not just launch Cruise on the path to A-list stardom thanks to how good he looked in a bomber jacket, it began his thirst for thrill-seeking in his movies.
Cruise has gone on to do the “Mission: Impossible” franchise, where he does many of his own stunts. And “Top Gun: Maverick,” a long-awaited “Top Gun” sequel (which comes out in November), will feature Cruise flying a jet.
“He became an amazing aviator himself,” Bruckheimer said. “He can fly just about any plane they can make.”