Tom Cruise was skeptical to star in 'Top Gun' until he flew with the US Navy's Blue Angels: They 'flipped him and did all kinds of stunts'
Tom Cruise in "Top Gun". Paramount Pictures
Tom Cruise was mixed when he made his 1986 blockbuster film "Top Gun".
Producer Jerry Bruckheimer said he flew the Navy Blue Angels and eventually sold it.
"[He] said, 'Jerry. I'm making the film. I love it,'" Bruckheimer said of Cruise.
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When "Top Gun" came out in 1986, Tom Cruise became a superstar after the film became one of the biggest hits of the year thanks to its excitingly realistic Jet Fighter sequences and Kenny Loggins' song "Danger Zone".
But the film's producer, Jerry Bruckheimer, told Variety that it took some persuasion to get Cruise to sign up and play the film's star, US Navy pilot Pete "Maverick" Mitchell.
"It wasn't easy," said Bruckheimer to the trade, which is celebrating the 35th anniversary of the film. "We wanted Tom after we saw 'Risky Business' and he kind of hemmed and hacked."
Although Variety points out that other actors like Matthew Modine, Nicolas Cage, Sean Penn, Matthew Broderick, and even Tom Hanks were being considered for the role, Bruckheimer made it clear that it was always Cruise they wanted to play Maverick.
To convince the rising star, Bruckheimer said they had become brave and offered Cruise to fly with the famous US Navy flight stunt squadron, the Blue Angels.
Tom Cruise had just wrapped up "Legend" when he flew with the Blue Angels. Universal
"He went there on his motorcycle and had just finished a movie with Ridley Scott, 'Legend'. His hair was long and tied in a ponytail," recalled Bruckheimer when Cruise at the Naval Air Facility in El Centro, California, showed up.
"You looked at him once and thought we were going to take this hippie with us," continued Bruckheimer. "They took him on an F-14 and turned him around and did all kinds of stunts to turn him around to make sure he never got back into a cockpit. But it was just the opposite."
Bruckheimer said Cruise landed, went straight to a phone, and called him.
"[He] said, 'Jerry. I'm making the film. I love it,'" said Bruckheimer.
Not only would Cruise start "Top Gun" on the road to A-list glory thanks to his handsome looks in a bomber jacket, but also his thirst for thrills in his movies.
Cruise has taken over the Mission: Impossible franchise, where he does many of his own stunts. And Top Gun: Maverick, a long-awaited sequel to Top Gun (out November), will feature Cruise with a jet.
"He became an amazing aviator himself," said Bruckheimer. "He can fly almost any plane they can build."
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