The pitch that changed Tom Cruise’s mind about Top Gun: Maverick

Tom Cruise wasn’t interested, but it took 30 minutes and a great idea to change his mind about rewatching one of his most famous roles.

Tom Cruise didn’t want to make the sequel to Top Gun.

The Hollywood megastar was completely immersed in the Mission Impossible franchise and the idea of ​​revisiting its 1986 hotshot fighter pilot wasn’t on the cards.

So how was Cruise convinced to take off in the? exceptionally well rated Top Gun: Maverick† According to director Joe Kosinski, it was 30 minutes and a great pitch.

†[Executive producer] Jerry Bruckheimer sent me an early draft of the script about five years ago,” Kosinski told news.com.au. “After reading it I had some ideas and thoughts and Jerry said it would be best if I presented it directly to Tom.

“Later I found out Tom didn’t really want to do the movie. So Jerry and I flew to Paris where Tom was shooting Mission Impossibleand between set-ups I had about half an hour of his time to pitch him the idea of ​​the movie.

“When I finished the presentation, Tom picked up the phone and called the head of… [Paramount Pictures] and said, ‘We’re making this movie,’ which is great to watch.”

For adrenaline junkie Cruise, the winning idea in Kosinski’s pitch was that the director wanted to shoot all the aerial shots.

“Tom said from the very beginning of this movie that making it was a bullet with a bullet because it would be very difficult to practically capture all these aerial shots, which I suggested, and he was right.

“It was a real challenge to figure out how to do it because you can’t just pretend what we were trying to get. You don’t just capture that on a stage or with a green screen. It was a lot of work, but I’m glad we did it and hopefully the public will agree.”

How much work? A lot of labour-intensive, time-consuming and physically and mentally taxing work.

Kosinski had seen footage on YouTube of Go-Pro cameras stationed in the cockpits of Navy pilots, and he found them more captivating than any aerial shot made for a movie. But a GoPro can only capture one small angle, it wasn’t exactly cinematic.

During 15 months, Kosinski and Top Gun: Maverick‘s cameraman Claudio Miranda worked with the US Navy to get six small Sony prototype cameras into an F-18 cockpit in a way that wouldn’t interfere with the plane’s safe operation.

“If that were to happen, it couldn’t interfere with the ejection, and it had to be able to withstand the forces, height and speed of the aircraft. It took about 15 months to get to that point and once we got the cameras in we sent Tom on a test flight and when we saw the footage we were like ‘wow, this is going to work’.”

Mounting the cameras in the high-speed machines was only half the battle. To capture the full weight and stakes of the film’s stunts, the actors had to experience what their characters were going through: the gravity of 600 miles per hour (965 km/h).

In the original Top Gun, the production could not fulfill that ambition. Bruckheimer told news.com.au: “Unfortunately in the first film we had hardly any footage in the cockpit, everything was a guess, the things we could use were the things Tom did.

“Every other actor had to throw up, their eyes rolled back.”

This time, Bruckheimer revealed, the actors, including a new class of young pilots played by Miles Teller, Glen Powell, Monica Barbaro, Danny Ramirez, Jay Ellis and Lewis Pullman, all had to fly forward and soar.

“What you saw was real,” the legendary producer explained. “It was the actors who felt the G-forces. We had to build their tolerance and that’s why it took three months. They started in a prop plane, then it was an aerobatic prop, then it was a jet fighter, then finally an F-18.

“It was really stressful. When they came down they were soaking wet. Every time they went up, they had to turn on the cameras, remember where the light was and then act [their scenes]turn off the cameras and then come back down.

“We couldn’t see what they were doing there, we could only hear it. Once we looked at the footage, and if it wasn’t right, we immediately sent them back upstairs.”

Kosinski said Cruise personally designed the months-long training program for the younger actors, some of whom had a fear of flying at first and can now handle the physical challenges of zooming around in an F-18, as well as acting while doing it.

Cruise’s test flights helped the director, who had worked with Cruise on… Forgetfulnessbed down technical factors such as lens, camera placement, eyelines and even visor shades.

And that Cruise did everything first was a real boon to his fellow thespians.

“Tom wouldn’t let any actor do something he didn’t do before,” Kosinski said. “So those test flights weren’t just a learning process for us to capture how to shoot the movie, I think, for the young actors, as they saw that it was possible and all kinds of techniques that they would have to use to make it out, like him.

“Tom had prepared them. Obviously it was still very difficult and some still got sick, but they were able to shoot all the scenes we needed.”

That makes Top Gun: Maverick – a story about an elderly pilot preparing the next generation for a risky mission – art that imitates life.

Top Gun: Maverick is in cinemas from Thursday 26 May

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