“I’m a fighter pilot, a naval aviator. It’s not what I am, it’s who I am,” Pete “Maverick” Mitchell said when he made his long-awaited return to the Navy in the 2022 blockbuster film “Top Gun: Maverick.”
Just like his character, star actor Tom Cruise once again found his way back to the sea service when he made a recent appearance aboard a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier in the Adriatic Sea.
The actor visited the Nimitz-class carrier George H.W. Bush earlier this month and joined sailors in the ship’s hangar bay for a screening of the Oscar-nominated film, the Navy said in a release.
“I know our [s]ailors will never forget that night in the hangar bay, and I am equally as certain that neither will Mr. Cruise,” Rear Adm. Dennis Velez, commander of Carrier Strike Group 10, said in the release.
The news comes on the heels of reports that Cruise was filming his next big project, “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part Two,” on the aircraft carrier.
Others from Hollywood joined Cruise aboard the vessel, including Hannah Waddingham, star of the hit TV show “Ted Lasso,” who sang for sailors during a meet-and-greet portion of the visit.
“Every minute they spent with the crew of our mighty warship paid dividends toward our crew’s morale from the top-down,” Capt. Dave Pollard, the aircraft carrier’s commanding officer, himself a Top Gun graduate and instructor, said in the release.
“It buoys my spirits to know that the leading entertainers and filmmakers of our day not only conceptually know what we do, but they can relate to what our nation’s warriors do on a daily basis through their personal experiences aboard USS George H. W. Bush.”
The aircraft carrier is currently on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa area of operations that began in August 2022.
The “Top Gun” sequel has been nominated for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Original Song, Best Visual Effects and Best Sound at this Sunday’s 95th Academy Awards.
Jonathan is a staff writer and editor of the Early Bird Brief newsletter for Military Times. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media