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In one of the most memorable moments of the "Top Gun" sequel, the standing Harris, 71, stalwartly absorbs the awesome pressure wave from a freakily low passing jet.
That's no stunt stand-in for Harris who doesn't move as the rest of the set takes damage from the powerful air disturbance, including an unplanned roof lift (as seen in the last seconds of the trailer).
"It blew the roof off the guard station," Harris tells USA TODAY with a chuckle. "It was a fun scene with the jet roaring over my head. I was just holding my ground knowing what to expect. It's really impressive seeing this jet coming at you from so far away and just flying right over your head."
In "Maverick," rebellious pilot Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (Tom Cruise) takes the experimental hypersonic plane called "The Darkstar" on an unauthorized test run, which ends up buzzing his new, unamused commanding officer Cain (Harris).
In reality, the jet that blew over Harris was an F-18 maneuvering over the movie guard station at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in Ridgecrest, CA. The station was built close to the runway for the best camera angle. Given the flying roof situation, maybe a little too close.
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The close flyover is daunting to watch on screen. But, "The Right Stuff" star Harris handled it better than the guard station.
"It was cool," says Harris. "These guys are professional pilots. I knew they weren't going to run into me or anything."
Director Joseph Kosinski told the New York Times the sequence was flown by a Blue Angel pilot, Walleye, one of the few Navy pilots cleared for the "low altitude transition" maneuver needed for full glory.
"The set was destroyed by the pressure wave," said Kosinski. "That is Ed Harris taking a pressure wave to the face. It's not a stuntman."
Harris made major impact with his role as Cain in the sequel, glowering and barking perfectly at Cruise's Maverick while extolling the virtues of drones that would replace human pilots (yes, even Maverick).
But the role was brief in terms of screen minutes as Cain reluctantly follows orders to send Maverick on to instruct at the Top Gun training school. Voices on Twitter have bemoaned the lack of Ed Harris time.
Weird Top Gun: Maverick only uses Ed Harris for like 5 minutes. He just shows up at the beginning then we never see him again!
It's Ed Harris!
— JMA (@Moon_Clinic) June 7, 2022
biggest problem with Top Gun 2 is they promised me Ed Harris and he’s only in it for like 3 minutes. I need more Ed!!!!
— Jae (@hellobooze) June 7, 2022
Yet Harris, who returns as the Man in Black in HBO's "Westworld" season 4 on June 26, says he maxed out on Cain alongside Cruise, his co-star in the 1993 action film "The Firm."
"There were never any further scenes with the (Cain) character. That was it," says Harris. "It was fun. And I'm really happy to be a part of the movie. And glad it's doing so well with so many people seeing it."
Other "Maverick" superstars had even less screen time.
Anthony Edwards, who plays Maverick's deceased "Top Gun" BFF Nick "Goose" Bradshaw, was not needed for any scenes in the sequel. Yet, Goose looms large in "Maverick," appearing in pictures and flashbacks. Not to mention he's the father of his grown-up pilot son, Bradley "Rooster" Bradshaw (Miles Teller).
Cruise, 59, invited Edwards, 59, and his real son Bailey, 28, to a private Dolby screening of "Maverick."
"As I said to Tom, 'mission accomplished.' They did it," Edwards told Entertainment Tonight. "It had the feel, it had the tone, it had what people wanted."
Not to mention, real easy work for the actor.
"It's the biggest movie that I'm in that I never had to show up for a day of work," Edwards said. "So it was fun."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Top Gun: Maverick': Ed Harris didn't move in roof-lifting jet scene