‘Top Gun’ Sequel Director Joseph Kosinski Talks Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer – The Hollywood Reporter

When getting down to make sequel Top Gun: Maverick, director Joseph Kosinski and the filmmaking staff had a guiding directive: “We said from the beginning, we don’t want to be the cover band version of Top Gun.’”

Maverick sees Tom Cruise’s hotshot return to the titular Naval flight academy to coach the brand new cadre of pilots, one in every of which is the son of his late associate Goose (Anthony Edwards).

It’s been over three-and-a-half a long time because the launch of the unique 1986 movie, and, as a result of pandemic delays, Maverick has had an additional two-year wait earlier than it lastly hits theaters on May 25. In the lead-up to this, the forged and crew have been on a worldwide tour, with a sneak peek of the movie at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, a premiere in San Diego, splashy screenings in Mexico City and London, plus a cease on the Croisette for a Cannes Film Festival bow.   

Prior to its competition debut, the director talked to THR about including girls to the cockpit, becoming cameras into F-18s and the query in regards to the sequel that individuals wouldn’t cease asking (Hint: It was about volleyball).

Prior to creating this film, what was your private relationship with Top Gun?

I noticed it within the theater once I was 12 years previous in Martial Town, Iowa, the place I grew up. It was the proper age to see that film, and I had at all times cherished aviation, so it was proper up my alley when it comes to pursuits. And it didn’t appear like any blockbuster film; Tony Scott had such a definite type. Jerry [Bruckheimer, the producer] pulled him out of artwork movies, so it appeared totally different. It had that soundtrack that performed all summer time, and everybody had the aviator jackets and the Ray-Bans. 

In your thoughts, what needed to be in a Top Gun sequel?

The very first thing was Maverick, so that’s the place I began with Tom, getting him to agree to come back again. After that — it’s humorous as a result of when folks heard I used to be engaged on it, the commonest query folks would ask me was “Is there going to be a volleyball scene?” It was engrained from the start that there needed to be one thing prefer it within the movie. It was as much as us to determine how we combine that into our storyline, so we aren’t doing it only for the sake of doing it. Our screenwriting staff did a fantastic job of figuring that out with dogfight soccer. And the rating, Harold Faltermeyer’s rating, is as iconic to me as Star Wars, which is why wished to start out the movie in the identical manner as the primary movie. Well, everyone seems to be saying it’s the very same [start] as the primary movie, however it’s not. I added “men and women” to the opening paragraph. [Top Gun opens with a text card that explains how the Top Gun school was started.] I hope folks discover that, as a result of girls do fly for Top Gun now.

And then from an aerial sequence standpoint, I needed to innovate in the identical manner Tony Scott did. We needed to seize flight in a manner that had by no means been executed earlier than. The first thought was, “Can I shoot Tom in an F-18 for real?” Which then grew to become, “Can I shoot everyone in F-18s?” So, Tom designed a course that bought everybody into “Tom Shape” to have the ability to get into these Super Hornets and shoot the scenes. Because everyone seems to be within the aircraft, it opens the entire film up. 

How did the know-how to permit filming contained in the planes come about?

The script is the story of the motion sequences. The choreography and how one can seize it was a 15-month science experiment with Claudio [Miranda, the cinematographer] and his crew working intently with the Navy to persuade it that it was secure to place six cameras in there. At first, they stated it might by no means match, there was no room. So, Claudio and I sat with them and pointed at every bit of kit behind an F-18 and requested if it wanted that piece to fly and once they stated “no”, we stated: “Pull it out.” So we made loads of area to get the recorders in there, and Sony had come out with this new digicam referred to as the Realto, which is a really small Imax-quality digicam. Then we bought customized lenses, and we customized manufactured lens hoods, and so they match all the parameters the Navy required, and so they handed all the checks for Gs, pace and ejection, and the legal professionals signed off. Tom did the primary check flight with the entire digicam, and after we bought the footage again, we thought, “Okay, maybe we are on to something here.”

How acquainted had been you with the interior workings of planes prior to creating this film?

I used to be obsessive about planes as a child, after which went to highschool for aerospace engineering and mechanical engineering. I really constructed an actual airplane after my senior yr of faculty.

What is it about airplanes that drew you to them?

I grew up in Iowa, and it was pre-Internet, within the ’80s. I constructed radio-controlled mannequin airplanes and rockets, and I used to be always crashing and launching issues in my yard. I’m very fortunate to have grown up in that point. I used to be a little bit of a mad scientist with my tasks, and I believe that’s similar to what my job is now in a bizarre manner. Just a special scale.

Heading into manufacturing, was there anybody shot or sequence that you just thought could be essentially the most troublesome to drag off?

Probably essentially the most harmful and daring is in the course of the movie the place Maverick flies the course to show the mission will be flown. For that sequence, Tom went via the actual Top Gun low-level coaching course at lower than 50 ft above the bottom at 500 miles per hour. He was flown by the highest pilot within the Navy, a Blue Angel pilot named “Walleye”. He had particular permission from the Nay to even try it. After we shot it, they landed, and the pilot got here to me and stated, “Did you get it?” I had simply appeared on the footage, and I used to be like, “Uh, yeah. It is pretty amazing.” And he stated, “Good because I’ll never do that again.” Another factor I snigger at about that sequence is once I watch it, there are elements the place I do know Tom is smiling as a result of he’s having a lot enjoyable, however it’s imagined to be this very severe scene.

So, the pilot is flying the aircraft with Tom within the second seat, with cameras round him?

Yes, there are six cameras that he was turning on and off himself as a result of there was nobody else up there with him, and we had no communication. We rigged a swap that will flip all six cameras on and off, so Tom would run the digicam when he was able to shoot or the sunshine was proper and do the runs.

Outside of the planes, do you could have a favourite character second from the movie?

The one that basically stands proud is the scene between Maverick and Iceman. I’ve at all times been an enormous fan of Val [Kilmer]’s, and to have the ability to have him and Tom reunite not solely as characters however as pals who hadn’t seen one another in an extended, very long time, it was a really emotional day.

Was Val on board from the start?

Jerry [Bruckheimer] and I met with Val very early on as a result of all of us wished Iceman to be within the movie, however we didn’t know what was doable given with struggles along with his well being. [Kilmer was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2015 and underwent a tracheotomy that permanently damaged his voice.] It was Val who got here up with the concept about how one can combine Iceman into our story. The entire idea of Iceman was Val’s concept, after which we wrote these scenes and got here up with the storyline.

As a filmmaker, how was it to sit down on a completed movie for 2 years?

It was arduous, however it might have been a lot worse to see the film get launched in a non-theatrical manner as a result of it’s within the Top Gun DNA to be a theatrical expertise. That is what we designed it for, and that’s what Tom was adamant we had been going to attend for. So, there was no query whether or not we had been going to attend or not. It was simply: How lengthy?

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