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4 things you didn’t know about the making of Top Gun: Maverick

Miguel Ortiz Avatar
top gun maverick

The long-awaited sequel to the original Top Gun did not disappoint. Top Gun: Maverick is the #1 film of 2022, grossing over $1.3 billion at the box office worldwide, and everyone involved in the making of the film contributed to its enormous success. We Are The Mighty had the opportunity to speak with some of these people who gave us an inside look at the making of Top Gun: Maverick.

Here are four things you didn’t know about Top Gun: Maverick

1. There are 800 hours of aerial footage alone

tom cruise in action
Aerial filming was an intense process (Paramount Pictures)

When Tom Cruise agreed to make a sequel to Top Gun, he had one major stipulation: They do it right. This meant filming as much of the movie for real as possible, with minimal use of CGI or CGI enhancements. This meant getting an ace aerial coordinator and lead camera pilot to capture the crucial flight scenes. Kevin LaRosa was given these jobs and was responsible for every aerial sequence in the movie, of which there were a lot. “All those 800 hours of aerial footage, we’re looking at that 1% cinematic gold,” LaRosa told WATM. “That’s why I feel like every sequence…they’re all amazing.” LaRosa and the rest of the production team worked closely with the Navy and genuine Top Gun instructors to portray real tactics and maneuvers and make Top Gun: Maverick both thrilling and realistic. Their hard work speaks for itself onscreen.

2. Fanboy’s pilot couldn’t break him

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That face when a trained pilot can’t make you sick with g-force (Paramount Pictures)

When the actors were cast for Top Gun: Maverick, Tom Cruise was insistent that they understand the intensity of the film’s production. To portray aerial combat as realistically as possible, they were subjected to serious g-forces aboard real F/A-18 Super Hornets. Part of Cruise’s deal with Paramount to film the original Top Gun was that he be filmed for real in an F-14. On his first Tomcat flight, with a pilot whose callsign was “Bozo,” Cruise reached down for his air sickness bag and had his head pinned to the floor of the aircraft when “Bozo” pulled up into a high-g climb with no warning. Danny Ramirez, who played Fanboy in Top Gun: Maverick, didn’t have quite the same experience thanks to Cruise’s insistence on their training. During his first Hornet flight, with a pilot whose callsign was “Ox,” Ramirez was subjected to sustained high-g maneuvers. However, thanks to the progressive training in smaller aircraft at Cruise’s direction, he was prepared. When “Ox” asked how the actor was doing, expecting to have broken Ramirez, the pilot was demoralized to hear him enthusiastically reply,” Oh this is great! This is great!” After that, “Ox” had a greater respect for the actors and their commitment to the film.

3. Maverick’s history with Warlock was impromptu

parnell top gun: maverick
Parnell played a Navy Master Chief on The Last Ship, but did all new research to portray an Admiral (Paramount Pictures)

Despite what many people think, acting is far more than just reading lines from a script. It takes a skilled actor to develop their character beyond what’s on paper and give them depth. Charles Parnell expertly did just that with his character, Warlock. Despite the depiction onscreen, Maverick’s history with Warlock wasn’t written in the script. Parnell chose to portray their past on his own and Tom Cruise loved it. “There was a scene we had where [Tom] saw the way that I was playing it, that I was playing our friendship and he goes, ‘Charles! Charles! Keep doing that! But next time do it stronger!'” he told WATM. Writing his character’s history since the events of the first Top Gun, Cruise played off of Parnell and incorporated Maverick’s friendship with Warlock into the rest of the film.

4. Kenny Loggins re-recorded ‘Danger Zone’ for Top Gun: Maverick

kenny loggins top gun: maverick
Loggins shares other Top Gun stories in his new book “Still Alright” (Paramount Pictures)

Despite not originally being considered to record ‘Danger Zone,’ artist Kenny Loggins’ career has been greatly impacted by the iconic tune from the original Top Gun. However, having been recorded in the 1980s, the song shows its age with lower fidelity. Looking to make use of modern technology, Loggins re-recorded ‘Danger Zone’ and updated it for Top Gun: Maverick. “Nowadays, we now have 5.1 wraparound sound. In IMAX, some of the seats even have speakers. I wanted the song to really explode out and around,” Loggins told WATM. While he matched the “sonic quality” of the original, Loggins added a lot of power to the re-recording’s chorus. “I wanted it to be much bigger,” he recounted. “Originally there was one electric guitar on that song. By the time I finished the re-record there were about four.” He also used much larger drums leading up to the chorus in the re-record to give the song more power and presence. However, the re-recorded version did not make it into the movie. The original Giorgio Moroder stereo mix was used instead to give the opening carrier flight ops scene the same vibe as the first movie. According to Loggins, the re-record will be released online in the near future.