One Of The Most Popular Films Of The 1980’s
When the 1986 action drama film Top Gun was released, it became a major commercial hit which grossed $356 million against a production budget of only $15 million. It easily became one of the biggest movies of the 1980s and coined many popular catch-phrases like “I feel the need for speed!” It gave a major boost to Tom Cruise’s career, who was praised highly for his acting performance.
For other actors and actresses as well who co-starred in the film, the film gave affirmation to their budding acting careers (Remember Anthony Edwards in ER?). The noteworthy acting performances, action sequences, special effects, and soundtrack all contributed to making this movie the classic it is today. There were many interesting things occurring behind the scenes of the movie, that even the biggest Top Gun fan has never heard about. Keep reading to find out what!
Cruise's Pivotal Role
In the film, Tom Cruise plays the role of Lieutenant Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, a young naval aviator aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise. At just 24-years-old, Cruise became one of the biggest and highly sought after stars on the planet.
One year after the film's release, Tom Cruise married his first wife, actress Mimi Rogers. Mimi introduced him to Scientology.
A Young Anthony Edwards
Prior to being cast in Top Gun, Anthony Edwards had already been making a name for himself in the Hollywood scene. Two years before the film hit theaters Edwards starred in the hit comedy, Revenge of The Nerds. He had also previously co-starred in the TV series It Takes Two, and had a guest appearance in Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
But, it's safe to say that his role as LTJG Nick "Goose Bradshaw" gave him even more widespread recognition, especially among movie lovers. His character Goose is one of the most popular characters in the film who tragically dies in an aviation accident.
Edwards Was The Only Actor Who Didn’t Throw Up
Apparently, Anthony Edwards, who played the role as Goose, was the only actor who didn't throw up during filming.
Most of the actors filming the pilot scenes got sick during the filming due to flying around in actual VF-114 Aardvarks and VF-213 Black Lions. The fighter jets were flown by military pilots who wanted to give the actors as real of an experience as possible, similar to the ones they face on a daily basis. However, there was one major difference between the military pilots and the actors and that was their ability to stomach the flights.
Tom Cruise Discussed Throwing Up
During a guest appearance on Jimmy Kimmel, Tom Cruise shared his vomit story on one of the training days. "The day came when we got to fly" Cruise said. They set up the cameras and it was really challenging—quite brilliant of Tony Scott, how he figured out how to do it.
But the guy who flew me, continued Cruise, in the first flight, his name was Bozo. The pilot’s name was Bozo! So, I’m strapping in, we’re getting in there, and you just see the helmet go on that says ‘Bozo.’ I’m like, ‘Bozo?'” As Bozo was going through the check sheet, Cruise noticed the emergency lights were on, “And we were about to take off!” he recalled. “I remember saying, ‘Bozo, these lights…There’s a lot of red lights.’ He’s like, ‘Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.’ He starts turning them off. I’m like, ‘OK.’ He’s like, ‘They don’t call me Bozo for nothing.'”
Kelly McGillis As Charlie
One year before Top Gun was released, Kelly McGillis had already catapulted to fame for her breakout role as an Amish mother alongside Harrison Ford in the 1985 film Witness. For her performance in the film, she was nominated for a Golden Globe. It's no surprise that McGillis gave a stellar performance considering the acting training she had received, having attended school at Julliard and the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts. Once she landed the role of Charlie, she was already a well-versed performer. One of the most important casting calls of Top Gun was finding the right female lead to act as the love interest of Tom Cruise’s Maverick.
As soon as director Tony Scott saw Kelly McGillis’s audition, he knew that he had found his “Charlie.” However, the executives had other ideas, as they were looking for someone younger and, in their words, “more fashionable.” Despite their demands, Scott didn’t budge, and after some intense discussions with the studio, McGillis was finally awarded the part. Tony Scott seems to have made the right decision as the 5’8″ blonde stunner stole the hearts of viewers after playing the role.
Her character, Charlie, is based on a woman named Christine Fox who, like McGillis is tall, blonde, leggy, and has a liking for clacking high heels. "They always know when I’m coming,” Fox told People in 1985, “because I'm one of the few people around here whose heels click.” The fictional Charlie is an astrophysicist, while Fox is a mathematician who worked at the Center for Naval Analyses.
From December 2013 to February 2014, Fox was the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense, which made her the Defense Department's highest-ever-ranking female officer.
At the time of Top Gun, Meg Ryan had played several small roles in various films. Because she hadn't yet been in many films, Top Gun's director Tony Scott was apprehensive of casting the future superstar. He was unimpressed by her and didn’t consider her as the first choice for the role. One of the reasons why he wasn’t comfortable casting Ryan, is because she had just worked on the soap opera As The World Turns. In the end, she won the part as the wife of Goose in Top Gun. While the role is obviously not her biggest to date, she gave a flawless performance and fans adored her. Meg would soon star in several films that would make her a household name and the queen of romantic comedy.
After Top Gun was released, Meg Ryan played an even bigger role in the film Armed and Dangerous. Continue reading to see who Ryan was secretly dating during the filming of Top Gun.
“Star Wars on Earth”
Top Gun was inspired by an article called 'Top Guns" by Ehud Yonay in California magazine from the May 1983 issue. The article featured aerial photography by then-Lieutenant Commander Charles "Heater" Heatley. It detailed the life of fighter pilots at Naval Air Station Miramar in San Diego. The location has the nickname of "Fightertown, USA."
Producer Jerry Bruckheimer read the article and was inspired to turn it into a film. He pitched the idea to his then-producer partner, Don Simpson, as "Star Wars on Earth." After several scriptwriters turned down the project, Jim Cash and Jack Epps. Jr. was brought on board to write the script. The final script is reportedly very different than the final draft written by Cash and Epps.
U.S. Navy Getting Involved
The scriptwriters and the producers wanted the U.S. Navy to be heavily involved in the making of the film. The U.S. Navy particularly had a strong impact on the approval of the script, which had several inaccuracies. One immediate alteration they made was moving the opening dogfight from Cuba to international waters.
They also ordered for the coarse language of the jet pilots to be toned down. Finally, they requested for one particular scene involving a crash on the deck of an aircraft carrier to be removed from the film. Many Top Gun pilots and assistants were key components in creating a lot of the cockpit dialogue seen in the film.
The $25,000 Change of Course
Cinematographer Tony Scott and his crew spent several days on board the USS Enterprise (hey, different movie!) filming aircraft as they landed and took off from the aircraft carrier while on an operational cruise. Scott wanted to capture some of the aircraft back-lit by the sun, but the ship had to change course before he could get all his shots in.
So, Scott approached the captain of the ship and asked him to turn the ship back around. The captain informed him that it would cost him $25,000 to change their route. Scott did what any great cinematographer with a vision would do; he wrote a check for $25,000 right on the spot. He was then able to capture the required shots over a period of five minutes. Imagine that- Five minutes for twenty-five thousand dollars! Just a mere $5,000 per minute. Well, the decision was clearly a wise one.
The U.S. Navy was involved in the script and cockpit talk to make the film as realistic as possible. Apparently, not even that can prevent inaccuracies from popping up and the film contains several outright wrongs when it comes to jet flight and the U.S. Navy. The website The Mighty records a shameful 79 errors in the film.
Among those 79 errors include some of the following mistakes: For starters, there is no such thing as the Top Gun trophy. Another error is in the title of the movie itself, Topgun is actually one word. A pilot showing up to a flight brief wearing a cowboy hat would have his or her wings pulled on the spot. Maverick “hits the brakes” by forward pushing the throttles, which would increase power, not decrease it. Although the character of Goose says “[expletive], we got a flameout. Engine 1 is out” the RIO has no engine instruments in the rear cockpit of the F-14.
Lavish Lives Of The Cast
In order to unite the cast and promote a comradeship, the cast was actually encouraged to hang out together. This hanging out included long nights of partying during the San Diego-area shoot. Kilmer mentions in the Top Gun DVD commentary that, “I remember it being one giant weekend, as far as making the thing.”
San Diego is a stunning city which offers a ton of different hot spots; beaches, a thriving downtown area, and hundreds upon hundreds of beach town bars, restaurants, and dance floors where a good time is waiting to be had. Among the places the cast may have hung out include Coronado Island (the bridge to Coronado is pictured above), the bars of Pacific Beach or Ocean Beach, the restaurants of La Jolla, or anywhere along the Encinitas shoreline.
A Killer Soundtrack
"The Danger Zone" was almost performed by a different artist instead of Kenny Loggins. Top Gun director, Jerry Bruckheimer approached soundtrack producer Giorgio Moroder to write him a song for the scene of planes landing on the ship in the ocean. Moroder composed the song "Danger Zone" along with songwriter Tom Whitlock. Columbia Records wanted "Danger Zone" performed by an artist signed to the label.
Kenny Loggins had already a slew of great successes with soundtracks, including an Academy Award nomination for the popular soundtrack to the 1984 movie Footloose starring Kevin Bacon. After the release of Loggins's single "Danger Zone", Top Gun album sales exploded, selling 7 million in the United States alone. For a greater part of the 80s and 90s, Loggins was known as the Soundtrack King.
Don't Forget The Music Video
The music video for "Danger Zone" was released in May 1986 with the intentions of promoting Top Gun by featuring dramatic clips from the movie. However, the U.S. Navy unintentionally reaped benefits along the way. The U.S. Navy said of the video that it was “the most effective recruiting poster ever produced.”
But, the music video wasn't the only way in which the Navy attracted new recruits. They also set up booths outside of theaters in order to encourage moviegoers to join the Navy. It worked! When recruiters talked to applicants, about 90% of them said they had seen the movie. In its 1987 "Join the Navy" commercial, The Navy also brought in “Danger Zone”-sounding music and Top Gun-esque shots.
Dedication to Art Scholl
In the movie Top Gun, there is an iconic scene during which a jet plane gets hit by fire and starts to crash. This forces both pilots to eject from the plane. One of the pilots gets thrust into the plane during the ejection and faces his death before even hitting the ocean.
In order to make the flying scenes as a realistic as possible, 53-year-old stunt pilot Art Scholl was brought in for in-flight camera work. Scholl had previously worked on other films, like The Right Stuff, Blue Thunder, and Baa Baa Black Sheep. Unfortunately on September 16, 1985, tragedy showed up when Scholl was performing a stunt while filming. He attempted to perform a flat spin, but he lost control and his plane went into a tailspin, crashing straight into the Pacific Ocean close to San Diego. His body and aircraft weren't recovered and as a result, Top Gun was dedicated to the stuntman’s memory.
A Problematic Tony Scott
The film's director, Tony Scott, is the brother of the more well-known director, Ridley Scott. Ridley has directed such films as Blade Runner, The Martian, and Gladiator. Ridley and Tony worked together as movie producers for decades. Sadly, Tony killed himself in 2012 by jumping off of The Vincent Thomas Bridge in Los Angeles.
Top Gun was Tony Scott's biggest hit. However, he was fired from the film a total of three times during the filming. It was reported that one of the times he was fired for “making Kelly McGillis look beautiful in a way that the studio considered whorish.” When Paramount told Top Gun‘s director Tony Scott that they didn’t like the filters he was using while filming the movie, he went behind their backs and carried on anyway. After finding out about this, the studios fired Scott. While they eventually brought him back, it is believed that Scott was fired on two more occasions; once for the way that he made Kelly McGillis dress for certain scenes and secondly for obscuring the actors’ faces during crucial cockpit scenes.
More Love Scenes
The love scene that occurred between Tom Cruise and actress Kelly McGillis’ characters wasn't filmed until after filming for the movie had already wrapped. After initial test screenings, moviegoers complained that there wasn't a love scene. They felt like they needed more of a reason to be convinced of the feelings between the two actors. The company was quick to agree.
If you close attention, you will notice that McGillis's hair is a bit darker in the scene. This is because she had already been working on another film for which she had to dye her hair darker. To conceal her darker hair, the scene is tinted blue. You can also see in the added-on scene that the timing is off if you take a close look at the longer length of Tom Cruise’s hair, especially noting how long it hangs in the front. Despite the clear changes, the love scene worked its magic on moviegoers and convinced them of Cruise's and Mcgillis's feelings for one another in the film.
Shirtless Scenes Came Later
It wasn't only the love scenes that were later added to the film to satisfy moviegoers' appetite for romance. The film needed one more thing to attract more females to the theater. Producers did that by way of shirtless scenes featuring Maverick and his fellow Top Gun officers.
After filming for "Top Gun" had already wrapped up, the sport, bro-mantic locker room and volleyball scenes which feature Maverick and his colleagues without shirts were added. The volleyball scene has been parodied and often mocked for its not-so-hidden sexuality. Director Tony Scott knew that women and men would be aroused by the sight of shirtless Tom Cruise, Anthony Edwards, Vil Kilmer, and Rick Rossovich and so he eagerly put the film's pretty boy pilots on full display. “I didn’t have a vision of what I was doing other than just doing soft porn,” Scott recalled with a laugh in an interview featured in the film’s 30th anniversary Blu-ray/DVD. Aside from knowing he needed to flaunt some young, attractive bodies in front of moviegoers, Scott was completely perplexed. “I knew I had to show off all the guys, but I didn’t have a point of view… so I just shot the shit out of it,” he recalled. “I got the guys to get all their gear off and their pants and sprayed them in baby oil,” he said.
Val Kilmer’s Improv Skills
Val Kilmer originally turned down the opportunity to play the role of the Iceman in Top Gun. However, Tony Scott wanted him in the film so badly that he tracked him down and convinced him to play the now iconic part of the gum-chewing, Maverick hating pilot. Barry Tubb (who played Wolfman) said that the cast would scramble into Kilmer’s van and use it to “wreak havoc across the Mexican border” before scurrying back for their call time on set.
Kilmer ad-libbed the iconic memorable moment when he famously coughs out b*llsh*t in the hangar scene. What fans might not realize is that the line wasn't originally in the script, which seems pretty fitting for a script which experienced so many changes (from the very first script until after the film wrapped).
Meg and Anthony
Meg Ryan played the role as Goose’s wife in Top Gun. While she only had a few scenes, the scenes she was in were very memorable and fans of the film loved her. After Goose's death in the film, her grief was a big part of humanizing Maverick, and showed the depth of the pain that he was trying to control and hide.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, and unknown to much of the cast, things were getting hot and heavy between Meg and Anthony; they had secretly started a relationship. Their relationship intensified very fast and they soon moved in together. It was even reported that Anthony Edwards proposed to meg Ryan but she turned the proposal down. Their relationship lasted only for one year, from 1986 to 1987.
While Kelly McGillis’ character Charlie was always written as Maverick’s love interest in the movie Top Gun, in the original script, she was supposed to be an officer. It's obvious to see why the scriptwriters would have wanted this to be the storyline; can you imagine the conflict underlying the relationship between two officers falling in love with each other in such a high stakes career environment?
The Navy, which was very involved in the writing of the script and assisted the movie makers in staying within the budget, put their foot down. They wouldn't approve of a script which involved two officers becoming involved. The U.S. military prohibits fraternization between officers and enlisted personnel. Because filmmakers depended greatly on the Navy's involvement, they rewrote Charlie's profession to that of a Navy consultant who assesses pilot performance.
The Top Gun Aesthetic
The film had a very specific look and feel, something which helped secure its role in cinema history. The look of the movie is rumored to have been inspired by the photographer Bruce Weber, who is famous for his provocative fashion and celebrity photography, as well as black and white graphic shots of the human body. His first book of photos, "Looking Good: A Guide for Men," features underclothes and nude male models dressed in or put against a military-themed backdrop. It served as the inspiration for the look of the Navy pilots in Top Gun.
The volleyball scene was the scene that Scott admitted to struggling with the most. And he wasn't the only one who was worried about it; Paramount executives were nervous about it, too, apprehensive that Scott may have taken too much inspiration from Weber — whose artistic photos of nude and scantily dressed men were most popular within the gay community at the time.
Tom Cruise Was The Only One
During the casting calls, Top Gun was the movie that every up-and-coming Hollywood star wanted to be a part of. It seemed like every young star wanted to have some sort of role in the movie, including Charlie Sheen, who was willing to take even a small role. Some of the other high profile stars who auditioned for the roles of Maverick included Sean Penn, John Cusack, Emilio Estevez, Michael J. Fox, and Patrick Swayze. However, it is believed that screenwriters of the film then wrote the role of Maverick with Tom Cruise specifically in mind. Cruise's performance in All the Right Moves caught producers' attention and inspired them to write the character of Maverick. Tom Cruise, with his charisma, sparkling eyes, and iconic grin, seemed to them to be the perfect fit.
While Tom Cruise was at first hesitant to accept the role of Maverick, he immediately changed his mind after spending time up in the air with the Blue Angels. Although he wasn't originally sold on accepting the role, he eventually agreed and of course, it was a major boost for his career. He is now known for his love of action parts and also takes pride in doing many of his own stunts. In fact, he is so good at the stunts that an article called “12 Times Tom Cruise has Cheated Death" was written in the Telegraph.
The writers of Top Gun said that it was a tough decision to kill off Goose, but they needed to add an emotional element to the movie. The first (and often changed) script called for Goose’s death to be the result of a midair collision. Because the Navy didn't approve of a midair collision, screenwriters changed his death to a more realistic situation, depicting an accident that actually happened (but which didn’t result in death).
In the film, Goose and Maverick must eject out of their fighter jet. During Goose's ejection, something goes wrong and Goose is flung against the cockpit opening. When Maverick swims toward Goose's dead body, buoyed in the ocean by his gear, he cries out to his friend. However, Goose was dead before he ever hit the water. This is a pivotal turning point in the movie.
The “Real” Top Gun School
Top Gun was based on an actual flight school named U.S. Navy Fighter Weapons School or TOPGUN, which used to be based at Miramar Naval Air Station in San Diego. The school was founded in the later part of the 1960s as a way to combat losing the air war in Vietnam. Because of base realignments and closures, TOPGUN was relocated to Fallon, Nevada in 1996, and later renamed the United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor.
A bonus fact: Anytime a staffer quotes or references the movie, the school fines them $5. So students there need to be careful not to let out the lyrics,”You never close your eyes anymore / when I kiss your lips” or else they owe the dough." And if you ever "feel the need, the need for speed" while at school, you may want to keep that to yourself.
Cruise These Days
Following Top Gun, Tom Cruise continued to blossom with his very successful acting career. In 1988, he acted opposite Dustin Hoffman in the award-winning drama Rain Man, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture. In 1996, he starred in the first of a critically and commercially successful film franchise, Mission: Impossible, playing IMF agent Ethan Hunt. In 1996, he played the role as the title character in the romantic-comedy drama Jerry Maguire, which earned him the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor.
Although Tom Cruise has had a very successful career, his love life has not been as such. In fact, his love life has often been the subject of media attention. He has been married three times, all of which have ended in divorce. His first marriage was to actress Mimi Rogers. Mimi introduced Cruise to Scientology. They were married for three years. He met his second wife, actress Nicole Kidman, on the set of Days of Thunder in 1990. They married shortly after and during the course of their marriage, they adopted two children together. 11 years later, Cruise filed for divorce from her. Kidman still speaks of how much she loves him. A few years later, Cruise began dating actress Katie Holmes. Dubbed "TomKat" by the media, they had their first daughter together one year later and got married shortly after that. After five and a half years of marriage, Holmes filed for divorce from Cruise. It is speculated that Scientology is the root cause of their divorce.
Anthony Edwards Today
After playing the role as Goose, Anthony Edwards experienced a major boost to his acting career. He is the winner of four Emmy nominations, a People’s Choice Award, six Screen Actors Guild Awards and a Golden Globe. He was one of three actors in the film to play roles on the TV series ER. The other two actors are Michael Ironside and Rick Rossovich who had fairly brief roles in the medical drama. Anthony's role as Dr. Mark Greene on the show spanned eight seasons and 181 episodes. It also allowed him to experience his hand at directing for the first time.
From 1994 to 2015, Edwards was married to Jeanine Lobell. Lobell is a makeup artist who founded the Stile cosmetics line which she sold to Estee Lauder in 1999. Edwards currently lives in New York City. He continues to act and is also active as a philanthropist. He serves as chairman of Shoe4Africa, a non-profit that raises money for healthcare and footwear for children and athletes in Africa.
After her performance on Top Gun, McGillis landed several roles in films and TV series. Two years after Top Gun, she played the role of Kathryn Murphy in The Accused with Jodie Foster. McGillis married twice; the first time to fellow Julliard student Boyd Black in 1979 which followed with divorce a few years later, and the second time to Fred Tillman in 1989. The two have two daughters together. They divorced in 2002. She came out publicly as gay in April 2009 during an interview. In 2010, she entered into a civil union with Melanie Leis. They too have since broken up.
McGillis revealed that in 1982 she was attacked and raped in her apartment, along with her live-in girlfriend at the time. The traumatic experience led her to abuse alcohol, and eventually seek treatment. In 2016, she once again was faced with an attack in her apartment during which she fought off a mentally unstable woman who broke into her North Carolina home and attacked her, leading her to get a concealed weapon permit. 38-year-old Laurence Marie Dorn was charged with second-degree burglary, misdemeanor larceny, misdemeanor stalking, assault and battery, and interfering with emergency communication. She was later convicted of misdemeanor breaking and entering McGillis is currently living in Hendersonville, North Carolina. She teaches acting at The New York Studio for Stage and Screen in Asheville.
What's Meg Up To?
After Top Gun, Ryan starred in the Rob Reiner-directed romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally which brought her widespread attention and her first Golden Globe nomination. She went on to star in several popular romantic comedies like Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe award. In 1991 she married Dennis Quaid and the pair had a son together named Jack. After their divorce in 1991, Ryan confessed that Quaid was never faithful.
In 2006, Ryan adopted a 14-month-old girl from China whom she named Daisy True. She was in an on-again-off-again relationship with artist John Mellencamp for several years. The two are now engaged. Outside of her career, Ryan is active in politics and supports organizations who seek to protect the environment.
Top Gun Rides
As with many other action films, it was only appropriate for Top Gun to become a crazy, thrilling roller coaster ride. The Top Gun roller coaster was built in 1993 at Mason, Ohio's Kings Island Amusement Park which was owned by the film company Paramount. The ride was a suspended coaster that emulated a F-14 Tomcat. As people waited in line for the ride, the PA system emitted "Danger Zone."
In 2008, under new ownership, the ride’s name was changed to “Flight Deck.” In 2014, the ride went through a big makeover and became “The Bat.” Besides Kings Island, another ride called “Top Gun” debuted in Santa Clara, California’s Great America from 1993 through 2007. Similarly, this ride was also changed to the name “Flight Deck.”
In 2014, Cruise made a guest appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Kimmel asked him about the first time he traveled the world to promote a film. Cruise said that it was during the foreign press junket tour for Top Gun, which he said took four months to complete, as he was expected to spend weeks in every city they visited in Italy, France, and Japan.
Cruise told Jimmy Kimmel that it was he who came up with the idea of premiering films in other countries, though he said, “It took me a few years to get it going.” Kimmel joked, “So all these other actors must want to kill you.” Nowadays, international releases for movies are very common and they require actors to do a lot of traveling around the world.
Tom Cruise's Heights
Tom Cruise has been ridiculed throughout his career for his height. Although his chiseled features, strong jawline, and captivating grin in many ways embody what it is to be a man, he doesn't completely have everything going for him. Yup, Tom Cruise is a shorty.
In order to avoid his height being the focal point of many jokes, he uses some tricks on screen to make himself appear taller. While filming scenes with McGillis in Top Gun, he often wore lifts in order to appear taller than her. Cruise, who is just 5'7, is much shorter than McGillis who is 5'10. So you can feel a bit better about yourself now that you know Cruise lacks at least in one department.
Since the release of Top Gun in 1986, fans have been wondering why a sequel was never released. Turns out that director Tony Scott had no interest in making a sequel. When asked about it, he replied "This world fascinated me, because it's so different from what it was originally. But I don't want to do a remake. I don't want to do a reinvention. I want to do a new movie." After Scott committed suicide, the idea of a sequel remained in question.
Well, fans of the film can rest assured; a sequel is in the making. The upcoming action drama sequel will be called Top Gun: Maverick and directed by Joseph Kosinski. It will reportedly focus on the end of the dog fighting era and the role of drones in modern aerial warfare. Cruise's character is set to fly an F/A-18 Super Hornet. The sequel will have a budget of $140 million, which to say the least, is much higher than its predecessor.
A Second Script
In June 2017, Cruise announced that “Aviators are back, the need for speed. We’re going to have big, fast machines. It’s going to be a competition film, like the first one…but a progression for Maverick.” Cruise will reprise his role as hotshot pilot Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, now a flight instructor overseeing a diverse cast of pilots, including the first woman pilot (played by Monica Barbaro). Musician Kenny Loggins has also confirmed that his iconic song "Danger Zone" will be featured in the film.
"Maverick" will bring a reunion between Mitchell and his nemesis Tom "Iceman" Kazansky played by Val Kilmer.
The Top Gun Bar
Even today, it's possible to drink, dance, and sing at the bar where Maverick and Goose sang to their dates. The scene was shot at a real bar called Kansas City BBQ located on Harbor Drive in San Diego, California. The bar is still functioning today.
While a fire in 2008 destroyed a lot of memorabilia, the original piano is still there, and you can buy Top Gun t-shirts. The biggest Top Gun fans flock to visit the bar for a chance to stand where Goose and Maverick once stood during this timeless scene. We’re sure that when the crew members were bonding, they'd frequent the bar during their party days in San Diego.
Tom Cruise Saved Ray Bans
In 1929, US Army Air Corps Colonel John A. Macready approached John Bausch and Henry Lomb, a Rochester based medical equipment manufacturer with his idea. He wanted to create aviation sunglasses that would reduce the distraction for pilots caused by the intense blue and white hues of the sky. He was concerned with how pilots' goggles would fog up at high altitudes in the sky. The first glasses known as 'Anti-Glare' were created in 1936. They had plastic frames and green lenses that could cut out the glare without obscuring vision. In 1937, the design was improved with a metal frame and patented as the Ray-Ban Aviator, because the glasses "banned" sun rays and were designed for pilots.
The sunglasses were popular at the beginning, but by the 70s and 80s, they diminished in popularity against the more popular disco-style sunglasses. After Tom Cruise wore a pair of Aviators in Top Gun, their sales rose by 40%. They once again were popular and have since been a huge name in sunglasses.
$10,000 An Hour
The shots while on the aircraft came with quite the hefty price tag to film. While aboard the USS Enterprise, there were several different types of aircrafts including F-14 squadrons, VF-114 Aardvarks and VF-213 Black Lions. However, all of these planes didn't come cheaply.
Every hour of flight time with an F-14 cost Paramount $10,000. But, this was only a small part of what it cost to make the film. All in all, the film cost $15 million to produce, which today is the equivalent of $32 million. Considering the film's eventual revenue, that's quite the budget and totally worth the $10,000 per hour of flight time. Because of the big investments that Paramount needed to make for Top Gun, the US Government was reportedly interested in helping to subsidize the production costs. “The Pentagon worked hand-in-hand with the filmmakers reportedly charging Paramount Pictures just $1.8 million for the use of its warplanes and aircraft carriers,” The Washington Post wrote. “But that taxpayer-subsidized discount came at a price – the filmmakers were required to submit their script to Pentagon brass for meticulous line edits aimed at casting the military in the most positive light."
Ally Sheedy Missed Out
Kelly McGillis wasn't the first to be chosen for the role of Charlie. Originally, the director sought out Ally Sheedy but she turned it down. She didn’t think that the film would do well at all. She even said in an interview “Who wants to see Tom Cruise flying around in an airplane?”
Obviously, she couldn't have been farther from the truth in her beliefs after seeing that the movie became a huge commercial success which immortalized the film’s characters and helped launch the careers of those involved in the project. After the film was released, Sheedy regretted her decision deeply and vowed to never again judge a role by herself.
Producers Thought There Was ‘Too Much Flying’
Considering that the film was about the Top Gun program, it was obvious that a lot of the filming would take place inside of fighter jets. Although this would be obvious to assume, it was one of the biggest complaints received from Paramount’s producers.
The producers were told by Paramount Studios that there was “Too much flying” in the film. The studios demanded some more time on the ground and a love scene filmed in delay. Leave it to Hollywood to demand that a movie about fighter jets has too much flying.
While Top Gun was a huge success and is now considered to be a classic film, this wasn't always the case. After it was first released, it got mixed reviews by both critics and audiences. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film only has a 54% although the audience gave it 83%.
Critic Roger Ebert gave the film a 2.5 out of 4 stars and said “Movies like Top Gun are hard to review because the good parts are so good and the bad parts are so relentless. The dogfights are the best since Clint Eastwood’s electrifying ariel scenes in Firefox. But look out for the scenes where the people talk to one another.”
The Audience The Movie Was Attempting To Attract
While Tony Scott was on break during the filming of the hangar scene, he was approached by a group of Navy officers. They told him that among many things that weren't consistent or true with being a pilot or in the military was the unrealistic collection of patches on the actors' flight suits.
Scott replied by saying that, “We’re not making this movie for Navy fighter pilots, we’re making it for Kansas wheat farmers who don’t know the difference.” What a bold statement to make to actual Navy officers.
The Biggest Box Office Smash In 1986
Although a high cost accompanied the making of the film due to the use of real Navy and flight equipment, the cost proved to pay off. In 1986, Top Gun was the highest-grossing film of the year, making $177 million in the United States alone and $353 million worldwide.
It came in first even before Crocodile Dundee, which came in second and Platoon in third. Considering that the film cost $15 million to make, Top Gun had a huge revenue and continued to take in money after they decided to release the film in other countries.
A Quality Recruitment Film
Besides the "Danger Zone" video, Top Gun itself proved to be a huge source of recruitment for the United States Navy. One of the producers, John David said that he knew the film would have a huge positive impact on the image of the Navy.
He had an inkling that people who saw the film would want to be a pilot after seeing the culture and lifestyle. He was spot on, and after the film's release, the United States Navy reported that the number of young men who said they wanted to be Naval Aviators went up by 500%.
Only Two Missiles Allowed
The United States Navy was a huge support to director Tony Scott, offering him a lot of assistance for a number of different requests. While they allowed him to fire some F-14 missiles for the film, they only permitted him two missiles.
Scott obliged and filmed both missiles being fired. He then continuously re-used the same two shots throughout the film. If you thought to yourself that the missile scenes look familiar, then you were right and it's because the movie's director only had two missiles to work with.
Bryan Adams Wouldn’t Allow His Music To Be Used
Bryan Adams was approached by the Top Gun crew to use his song Only The Strong Survive on the soundtrack. The singer, due to personal views, turned down the offer. So, producers had to continue on their search to find their soon to be best-selling soundtrack.
Adams later shared that he turned down the request because he felt that the movie glorified fighting and war. For this reason, he told producers to look for other music for the film. While the film without a doubt focused largely on fighter jets and their pilots, in the final film product, little fighting was included.
A Cartoon Cast Reunion?
In 2013, a 3D computer-animated sports comedy movie called Planes was released by Disney. It is a spin-off of Pixar's Cars franchise. For a small but significant moment in time, a Top Gun cast reunion was brought to life with 3D animation. A small tribute was made to Top Gun when Val Kilmer and Anthony Edwards were brought on to the voice cast for the film.
Planes wasn’t the smash hit we witnessed with Cars, and received negative reception. Despite this, it managed to gross $90,288,712 in the United States and Canada, and $148,970,000 in other countries, for a worldwide total of $239,258,712. So, you can consider that quite the box office success.
China Took Footage From The Movie And Said It Was Their Air Force
The Chinese government’s own state-run TV attempted to fool its citizens in 2011. They broadcasted footage from the film Top Gun and claimed that it was the actual film from their own fighter jets. The footage on the left was taken from China Central Television and the footage on the right is from Top Gun. While the coloring is slightly off, the explosive pattern is obviously an exact match to the film. The full footage depicted a dramatic image of a jet bursting into flames after being hit by a Chinese fighter plane’s missile.
Perhaps it was "a need, a need for speed", as Maverick and Goose once put it. While it wasn't confirmed whether or not the footage was genuinely fake, this wouldn't have been the first time that China lied to the public in order to try and improve its image. Some of the amazing footage of the Beijing Olympic Games' opening ceremony, featuring fireworks creating "footsteps" across the city, were later shown to have been created digitally, and the young singer who starred in it "live" was actually lip syncing to another girl's voice.
A VHS First Was Sold Alongside Top Gun
When the Top Gun VHS was released in 1987, Paramount Studios imagined that it would allow them to earn extra cash while selling the movie to Blockbuster and other movie rental companies at a discount.
The VHS release of Top Gun was the first VHS to feature an official commercial before the movie. Paramount Pictures, which produced the film, made a deal with Pepsi. They agreed to include a commercial for the beverage brand's diet soda before the opening credits. Before the movie started, Diet Pepsi had a 60-second Top Gun inspired commercial. The Top Gun movie was sold for $3 less per copy, an affordable price of $26.95, because of the extra money the movie studio earned from PepsiCo.
It's safe to assume that Paramount's producers weren't aware of government secrets, so perhaps math just wasn't their strong point while filming Top Gun.
When filming started, America’s bombing of Cambodia was said to have begun in March 1969. However, it wasn't until 2000 that Bill Clinton revealed Air Force data which spoke of the bombing campaign started four years earlier, on October 4th, 1965. Duke Mitchell’s plane disappeared on November 5th, 1965. Maverick was haunted by the loss of his father, Duke.
It Cost More Money To Make The Charlie Sheen Top Gun Parody
With a cast that was still up and coming, the most expensive part of Top Gun was the $10,000 per hour jet fighter rental fee. It cost just $15 million to film the movie and that included Tom Cruise’s salary of $2 million. In comparison, Charlie Sheen’s Top Gun parody Hot Shots! cost $26 million to film. The 1991 comedy film is a parody of Top Gun, with some scenes mimicking other popular movies, like 9 1/2 Weeks, The Fabulous Baker Boys, Dances with Wolves, Marathon Man, Rocky, Superman and Gone with the Wind.
While Top Gun wasn't initially a big success, Hot Shots debuted at number one in the U.S. and was a critical and commercial success, grossing over $180 million worldwide. It also holds an 83% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes compared with the 54% rating that Top Gun has on Rotten Tomatoes. However, in the long run, Top Gun by far beat out Hot Shots! eventually accumulating over $353 million worldwide. A sequel, Hot Shots! Part Deux later followed in 1993.
Top Gun Sequel Delay
Paramount Studios has the need for a delay in the "Top Gun" sequel.
While the movie was set to be released in June 2020 and already began early production, filmmakers need extra time in order to work out the logistics of presenting flight sequences with new technology and planes, according to a Paramount statement.