Tom Cruise’s Speedy Course Run In Top Gun: Maverick Was ‘The Most Extreme Thing We Shot In The Film,’ Says Director Joseph Kosinki – Exclusive

Top Gun: Maverick

by Owen Williams |
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Empire’s Triumph of 2022 is, of course, Top Gun: Maverick. What else could it be? A love letter to an ‘80s classic – but also a modern classic in its own right; nostalgic but forward-looking; and boasting some of the most spectacular aerial action sequences ever committed to film. In IMAX especially, it’s the most thrilling, visceral cinematic experience in years.

Tom Cruise, in the last decade alone, has taken his unique sideline as a death-defying stunt-man to incredible heights of daredevil madness: dangling from buildings, hanging from planes… But it turns out that Maverick’s major set piece was too extreme even for him. That two-minute-15-seconds example run of the course that the pilots must get through in order to complete their previously-thought-impossible mission, which Maverick goes rogue and does in a commandeered jet, was flown by ace Navy pilot Frank ‘Walleye’ Weisser. But Cruise was, of course, in the plane nevertheless. He wasn’t going to miss that ride.

“That was the most extreme thing we shot in the film, just in terms of the practicality of what you’re actually seeing on screen,” director Joseph Kosinski tells Empire. “It’s all in-camera, it’s Tom Cruise at 550 knots, going 30 feet above ground through the Toiyabe [Canyon] low-level training grounds. That’s a real Top Gun training thing, but they never fly as low as he does. After they landed, Walleye came up to me and said, ‘Did you get it?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I think we did.’ He said, ‘Good, because I’m never doing that again.’”

And Cruise? “He would have done it 100 more times!” laughs Kosinski. “In fact, I smile because when I watch that sequence, he’s wincing through the Gs, but I know under the mask he’s smiling for most of it, because he’s having the time of his life.” It certainly took our breath away.

Empire Dec 22

Read Empire’s full tribute to Top Gun: Maverick, speaking to director Joseph Kosinski, in the new Review Of The Year issue – on sale Thursday 27 October, or pre-order a copy online here. Top Gun: Maverick is available on home release from 31 October.

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