'Top Gun' Shocker: Navy Denied Maverick the Chance to Fly an F-18

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Only three weeks ago, we wrote that the long-awaited movie sequel "Top Gun: Maverick" moved its scheduled release to June 24, 2020. The world has changed a lot since then, but there's zero word yet from Paramount about whether that date will hold. We'll continue to keep our fingers crossed and hope the world is open for business by Easter.

As part of what seemed like an especially well-oiled rollout, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Tom Cruise gave a brief interview to U.K. movie magazine Empire that appears in the newly released May issue. The article is not available online, but we acquired a copy and have all the new dirt contained therein.

The big news is a quote from Bruckheimer: "The Navy wouldn't let [Tom] fly an F-18, but he flies a P-51 in the movie, and he flies helicopters. He can do just about anything in an airplane."

Depending on your perspective, it's either a relief that the Navy wouldn't put an actor at the controls of a $71 million aircraft or a huge disappointment that Maverick won't actually be piloting the plane in some of the movie's action sequences.

The filmmakers put a premium on making things as real as possible. Cruise resisted the idea of a sequel for decades but recently realized there was a way to make the movie work: "I realized that there were things that we could accomplish cinematically. And I started getting excited about this big challenge of, 'How do we do it?' So I said to Jerry, 'I'll do it if...' Meaning, I'm not going to do the CGI stuff."

Bruckheimer also revealed some serious dope about the challenges they faced making the original 1986 movie. "We put the actors in the F-14s, and we couldn't use one frame of it, except some stuff on Tom, because they all threw up," laughs the producer. "It's hysterical to see their eyes roll back in their heads. So everything was done on a gimbal. But in this movie, Tom wanted to make sure the actors could actually be in the F-18s."

At a recent event in New York, a group of young actors who joined Cruise in "Top Gun: Maverick" were enthusiastic about the experience. Glen Powell, Lewis Pullman, Jay Ellis, Greg Tarzan Davis, Danny Ramirez and Monica Barbaro described the intense aerial boot camp they went through to prepare themselves for the flight scenes.

Cruise describes himself as a tough taskmaster. "When you're pulling heavy Gs, it compresses your spine, your skull; it makes some people delirious," he said to Empire. "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."

The actor-producer seems especially excited about these flying scenes. "I have been developing aerial photography, making it more subjective," Cruise said. "I've done more aerial photography than pretty much any other actor alive. On 'American Made,' we started to explore using real aircraft, and changing the language of how to do something practically. It's not just capturing action. You can't imagine the amount of engineering involved, the tests we have to do."

The thing is, Tom, plenty of Military.com readers can understand exactly the amount of engineering involved and the tests required. That's why we're all getting so antsy waiting to see "Top Gun: Maverick."

Stay tuned for the latest news as we get it.

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