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Film: Top Gun: Maverick is ‘about family, friendship and sacrifice' says Tom Cruise

The cast of Top Gun: Maverick talk about what they learned from Cruise as the film's star reflects on why now was the right time for the sequel...

Tom Cruise was in attendance at Cannes this for the screening of Top Gun: Maverick
By Kerri-Ann Roper, PA Entertainment Editor

WHEN your journey to work involves one of Hollywood’s biggest stars personally flying you back and forth, you could say that’s a good day at the office.

It’s definitely something Top Gun: Maverick director Joseph Kosinski can attest too.

The American filmmaker (48), whose credits include Oblivion, Tron: Legacy, Only The Brave and more, got ferried on occasion by the star of his latest project, none other than Tom Cruise.

Arguably one of the most anticipated sequels, Top Gun: Maverick sees A-lister Cruise reprise his role as hotshot navy pilot Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell, a character made famous in the 1986 film directed by the late Tony Scott.

The sequel brings us a Maverick who finds himself training the latest crop of Top Gun pilots for a dangerous mission, among them the son of Maverick’s late friend Nick Bradshaw, known to fans as Goose. Enter Lieutenant Bradley Bradshaw, played by Miles Teller, whose call sign Rooster pays homage to his late father.

“We want it to be an emotional experience,” muses Kosinski.

“It’s a character-driven story, and Maverick is in a very different place at the end of this film than you find him at the beginning, which was the journey we wanted to tell.

“Casting is so important on a film like this, and I’m really pleased with our cast, and just so proud of them for what they managed to accomplish, and just their camaraderie.

“And when you see them do what they do on screen, I think is really, really special.”

He’s referring of course to a star-studded cast that includes Mad Men’s Jon Hamm, Ed Harris, Charles Parnell, Jennifer Connelly and returning Top Gun favourite Val Kilmer in his role as Maverick’s old air nemesis-turned-friend, Iceman.

For the sequel, the cast underwent months of intensive flight training, meaning the footage you see of them in F/A-18 aircrafts is indeed real and not CGI.

“I never got in an F-18,” says Kosinski when asked if he did any fancy flying.

“The closest I came was Tom (Cruise) would fly me back and forth to work sometimes,” he says.

For Cruise, the key to making the sequel was in the filming – and flying – practicalities.

He says: “I’d thought about a sequel to Top Gun for all these years. People had asked for a sequel for decades. Decades. And the thing I said to the studio from the beginning was: ‘If I’m ever going to entertain this, we’re shooting everything practically.

“I’m in that F/A-18, period. So, we’re going to have to develop camera rigs.

“There’s going to be wind tunnels and engineering. It’s going to take a long, long time for me to figure it out.’ And I wanted to work with Jerry (Bruckheimer). I wouldn’t do this movie without him in a million years.

“For years, people had said, ‘Can’t you shoot (the movie) with CGI?’ And I always said, ‘No. That’s not the experience.’

“I said, ‘I need to find the right story. And we’re going to need the right team. This movie is like trying to hit a bullet with a bullet. I’m not playing.'”

It was an “incredible experience” coming back to the character, the 59-year-old star of films like Mission: Impossible, Vanilla Sky, Jerry Maguire and more says.

“Maverick is still Maverick. He still wants to fly Mach 2 with his hair on fire.

“But you see the transition that Maverick undergoes.

“The pressure of him losing his best friend, the responsibility he feels about that and how he has carried that with him – and how that incident has changed both his and Rooster’s life forever”, Cruise says.

“Maverick loves Rooster as a son. This film is about family and it’s about friendship and it’s about sacrifice. It’s about redemption and the cost of mistakes.”

For American actor Teller (35), whose big-screen roster includes Fantastic Four, War Dogs and Whiplash, filming the adrenalin-fuelled flying scenes was “intense”.

He says: “We trained for this for a long time, Tom had us in a flight programme for several months before we ever started filming.

“But it was never something you really ever got, like, super comfortable with, at least for me. It was something that every time I went up, it really tested me and I felt like I wanted to puke pretty much every time….”

Teller’s other upcoming projects include starring in the new Paramount+ series The Offer, which charts Al Ruddy’s journey to making the now iconic film, The Godfather.

He says of working with Cruise: “I just learned that there’s always something else to be done, that it’s really never finished until the movie is coming out. His attention to detail is something that’s unparalleled.

“And this career that he has in these movies, they don’t happen by accident.

“It comes from an immense amount of work and effort and also love, I mean, Tom loves making movies, he really loves entertaining audiences and it shows.”

For Kosinski, the timing is also right for its release, given it faced several delays due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He explains: “I was a little concerned, waiting for two years wondering… would the film feel stale, but it’s the opposite.

“It somehow feels more relevant post-pandemic because of the kind of movie we made and what we want to do.

“I’m just excited that theatres are opening up and people are going back to the movies.

“And I hope they appreciate how we made this film and what we did here.”

Given the rave reviews from critics so far, it’s clear the sequel hasn’t lost that loving feeling that made audiences love it the first time around.

Top Gun: Maverick is in cinemas from May 25.

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