Inside ‘Top Gun: Maverick’s’ San Diego Premiere Spectacle, Including...

Inside ‘Top Gun: Maverick’s’ San Diego Premiere Spectacle, Including Tom Cruise’s Helicopter Arrival

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In typical Tom Cruise fashion, Top Gun: Maverick did not premiere with any old red carpet on Hollywood Boulevard. Instead, ahead of the film’s debut at Cannes in a few short weeks, Paramount unveiled the action film on Wednesday with a San Diego takeover of retired aircraft carrier USS Midway — and a true action-star entrance.

While his castmates took a more … grounded approach, Cruise, a licensed pilot, arrived via helicopter, landing on the edge of the vessel and strutting to the entrance of the red carpet to the cheers of fans, joking that an Uber entrance was just too simple. The over-the-top move kicked off a premiere spectacle, with jet flyovers, uniformed servicemen and the star-studded cast of the long-awaited sequel.

It has been 35 years since the original Top Gun, and the follow-up has been in discussion for a decade, said producer Jerry Bruckheimer. Director Joseph Kosinski pitched Cruise and the creative team the Maverick story, complete with poster idea and lookbook, and “after he finished pitching it, Tom pulled out his phone and called Paramount and said, ‘I’m making another Top Gun movie,’” Bruckheimer told The Hollywood Reporter.

Tom Cruise just arrived to the #TopGunMaverick premiere in a helicopter he flew himself pic.twitter.com/uA4X0UL4DZ

— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) May 4, 2022

The producer also confirmed Cruise really is behind the dash in all of those action scenes (“Every time you see him flying, that’s him in that jet”) and said that no stunt was deemed too big for the star: “You can’t pull Tom Cruise back. He’s going to do what he’s going do.”

In addition to a starry cast of new pilots — including Miles Teller, Glen Powell, Lewis Pullman, Jay Ellis, Monica Barbaro, Danny Ramirez and Greg Tarzan Davis — the film sees a return of one of the original’s favorites: Val Kilmer’s Tom “Iceman” Kazansky.

“Tom said, ‘I’m not making the movie without Val,’ and of course we had to talk to Val; he was up to it, he helped create the scene with us,” recalled Bruckheimer of the actor, who lost his speaking voice after a battle with throat cancer. “It was a very emotional day — you saw Maverick and Iceman back onscreen again after 36 years.”

And now back to those new recruits, who underwent a rigorous Tom Cruise boot camp to look like real-life aviators and withstand powerful g-forces as they learned to fly alongside trained pilots.

“Tom does not half-ass anything, as we all know, and Tom put together a flight program for all of us so that by the time we graduated to the F/A-18, we wouldn’t be passing out or puking in Naval assets,” said Powell, who was so enamored by flying he has since gotten his pilot’s license. “When you have Maverick training you how to fly and that enthusiasm, it really rubs off on you.”

“This guy is the coolest dude in the world” – #TopGunMaverick star @glenpowell shares the craziest thing he ever saw Tom Cruise do pic.twitter.com/2J3dyeSTGf

— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) May 5, 2022

Ellis says Cruise’s program often included swimming for two or three hours, followed by two hours of flying: “We were all terrified, but I think there was a point we all looked at each other and said, ‘We got this. We might actually be able to figure this out.’”

And to show off those physical results, the film features a beach football scene that mirrors the iconic beach volleyball moment from the original film. “We probably all had four or five layers of different types of oils on us to really make sure the muscles popped,” Ellis joked. “Nobody could stand next to a flame or it might get dangerous, but we had a great time.”

The cast also spoke about conversations they had with Cruise about his vision for the film, with Teller, who plays Nick “Goose” Bradshaw’s (played by Anthony Edwards in the original) son in the sequel, noting that “Tom really gave me a lot of freedom.”

Miles Teller describes Tom Cruise as an “ally” and a “cheerleader” at the #TopGunMaverick premiere pic.twitter.com/31VqBgGdrx

— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) May 5, 2022

“That Goose thing, being the ultimate wingman that Anthony did so well — he and Tom, you can just tell they’re having a blast in that first one,” said Teller. “I think if anything, Tom really wanted the actors to feel comfortable; they got cast for a reason and trust your instinct — and if your instinct was wrong, Tom would let you know. But he was just such a great ally for all of us to have and just the ultimate cheerleader. He really wants everybody to win.”

Added Powell, “Tom Cruise is Maverick. He’s as cool offscreen as he is on.”

Following the four-hour carpet, the film’s stars, including Jon Hamm, Jennifer Connelly, Charles Parnell and Bashir Salahuddin, made their way to San Diego’s Civic Center Theater for the debut screening, which Cruise introduced with a standing ovation for the Navy sailors in the crowd.

Top Gun: Maverick hits theaters May 27.

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Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly and Tom Cruise attend the Top Gun: Maverick world premiere on May 4, 2022, in San Diego.
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

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