By all accounts, the upcoming sequel to “Top Gun” will serve up an unprecedented thrill ride courtesy of innovative cinematography and acting performed under perhaps the most extreme conditions — while pulling Gs.
If audience anticipation for “Top Gun: Maverick” wasn’t already redlining following the release of the film’s trailers, details revealed in an interview from the upcoming May issue of Empire Magazine with Tom Cruise and producer Jerry Bruckheimer should certainly do the trick.
Director Joseph Kosinski’s (“Oblivion,” “Only the Brave”) decision to put IMAX cameras in the cockpit of a Super Hornet showcase CGI-free in-flight sequences featuring actors physically in the aircraft bolting through frames of stunning terrain and low altitude.
Trained pilots, of course, were at the helm (off-camera).
“I said to the studio, 'You don’t know how hard this movie’s going to be,” Cruise told Empire. “No-one’s ever done this before. There’s never been an aerial sequence shot this way. I don’t know if there ever will be again, to be honest.”
But before the actors could climb into the cockpit of one of the world’s premier fighter aircraft, they had to prepare for the physical stress of what the job would entail. Putting the actors of the original Top Gun in the cockpit of an F-14 didn’t work very well, Bruckheimer said.
“They all threw up. It’s hysterical to see their eyes roll back in their heads…everything was done on a gimbal.”
So, Cruise, who has piloting experience and “can do just about anything in an airplane,” according to Bruckheimer, designed a bootcamp-style training regimen to get co-stars like Miles Teller and Glen Powell ready.
“When you’re pulling heavy Gs, it compresses your spine, your skull, it makes some people delirious,” Cruise told Empire.
“Some people can’t handle it. So I had to get them up to being able to sustain high Gs, because they have to act in the plane. I can’t have them sick the whole time.”
Cruise requested to pilot an F-18, Empire reported, but the Navy objected, perhaps cognizant that an actor at the controls of a Super Hornet could be the very danger zone Kenny Loggins always warned of.
Still, the 57-year-old actor pilots both a World War II-era P-51 Mustang — an aircraft he personally owns — and a helicopter in the film.
“Top Gun: Maverick,” which Cruise characterized as “emotional,” promises to be one of the more visually immersive cinematic experiences.
“You will experience what it’s like to be in an F-18, in that cockpit with those pilots,” Bruckheimer said.
The film is currently scheduled to hit theaters on June 24, 2020.
Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.