Tom Cruise talks Top Gun: Maverick: “It was now or never”

Top Gun: Maverick has been a long time coming. Now, though, 36 years after the original flew into cinemas, Maverick returns.

“Originally, I wasn’t interested in doing a sequel,” star and producer Tom Cruise tells Total Film magazine (opens in new tab) in the new issue, featuring Top Gun on the cover. “All over the whole world, people were asking for it, and asking for it. [Producers Don] Simpson and [Jerry] Bruckheimer – I remember back in ’87, they had an idea. It was the germ of the idea, actually, that ended up with the concept of [Top Gun: Maverick].”

That kernel was the relationship between Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell and Bradley ‘Rooster’ Bradshaw, the son of Mav’s former Radar Intercept Officer, Nick Bradshaw (Anthony Edwards), better known as Goose. Goose died in the first film during an ejection gone wrong, sending Maverick into a guilt-ridden crisis. But, explains Cruise, “Just through time, the story was never right. I don’t do things just to do it.” 

Cruise was also waiting for the technology to reach a certain point to enable him to bring the audience into the cockpit, “to put the audience inside that F/A-18”.

The sequel idea never really went away. “I had lots of discussions for years with Tony, with Jerry, with McQ [Christopher McQuarrie] about it, and when I was doing Oblivion, talking to Joe [Kosinski, director],” continues Cruise. “I just had to wait for that right moment. And I realized it was either going to be now or never. And basically, I liked the concept of the idea. And I was like, ‘Alright…’”

“We certainly played around with it,” says producer Bruckheimer of the decades-long development process. “But we never solved the problem of how to make another film.” Things kicked up a notch when Bruckheimer and Cruise met with Joseph Kosinski in Paris, during the shooting of Mission: Impossible – Fallout. “Joe had an idea for the movie,” explains Bruckheimer matter-of-factly. “And Tom loved the idea. And we loved it. So that’s where it all started.”

Top Gun: Maverick opens in UK cinemas on May 25, and US cinemas on May 27. For much more from Cruise, the new cast, and the filmmaking team of Kosinski, Bruckheimer, and McQuarrie, check out the new issue of Total Film (opens in new tab) when it hits shelves on Thursday 31 March.

Total Film's Top Gun: Maverick covers

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