‘Top Gun’ producer Jerry Bruckheimer reveals how he won over Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise as Maverick in 'Top Gun' (Photo: Paramount Pictures)
“Top Gun” was the biggest box-office hit of 1986 and remains one of the most-loved movies of that decade. Its success catapulted Tom Cruise to superstardom, and he is still one of the most famous faces on the planet. But would either have happened if Cruise hadn’t changed his mind after initially turning down the lead role?
27 years after the movie first took audiences to the danger zone, “Top Gun” is coming back to theaters in IMAX 3D for a special six-day event starting February 8. To celebrate its return, we’ve got your first look at the exclusive trailer for the 3D version below. And I got to speak to producer Jerry Bruckheimer on the phone about the 3D conversion and his memories of filming “Top Gun.” He revealed just how he convinced Cruise to take on the career-defining role of Maverick after his early resistance.
Bruckheimer and Cruise in 2010 (Photo: Eric Charbonneau/WireImage)
To really sell Cruise on playing a Navy pilot, they had to give him a first-hand look at what they do. Bruckheimer recalled that they reached out to the Navy, and they got permission to get Cruise in the backseat for a trip with the Blue Angels, the elite aerobatic flight team. Bruckheimer said, “We sent him down to El Centro,” the Naval Air Facility in California that serves at the winter home for the Blue Angels, “and he jumped in the back of that jet and just had the ride of his life.”
Bruckheimer said, “At the time, he had shoulder-length hair, and [the Navy pilots] said, ‘We’re going to take this hippie for a real ride,’ and they just blasted him through the air and did rolls and did all kinds of crazy stuff with him.” After tearing through the skies at speeds approaching Mach 1, Cruise returned to Earth with a new perspective on the movie. Bruckheimer said, “He got on the ground and walked over to a phone booth – we didn’t have cell phones in those days. He calls me up, he says, ‘I’m doing it.’ [Laughs] That was it.”