8 Crazy Top Gun facts you need to know before watching the sequel

Must See 17/05/2022

Top Gun is one of the most iconic action movies of all time. High-flying stunts, an awesome soundtrack, Tom Cruise, and some seriously catchy nicknames all add to the allure of the 1986 hit movie.

The film, chronicling students at the U.S Navy’s fighter pilot school, has grossed over USD$357 million worldwide since its release 36 years ago, making it a huge box-office hit when compared with its estimated $15 million budget.

With the long-awaited sequel hitting Kiwi screens next week, we're looking at some of the best behind-the-scenes tidbits about the flick, from last-minute casting changes to Tom Cruise's special cowboy boots

Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer on the set of Top Gun

1. The real Top Gun school - the United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program - charges students $5 if they quote the film. Apparently to do so would make light of the real dangers facing students in the program.

2. John Travolta was supposed to play Maverick instead of Tom Cruise - but Travolta was too expensive and had been in some unsuccessful movies at the time so Top Gun producers pulled the plug.

3. Both Val Kilmer and Tom Cruise did not want to star in the movie originally. Kilmer thought the script was silly and propagated war, so much so that he sabotaged his own audition. Eventually, Kilmer sat down with director Tony Scott, who convinced him of the vision for the movie.

Cruise declined the script, but came round after the Navy flew him up in one of their jets, did barrel rolls and hit high speeds. Cruise even vomited in the air, but reportedly ran to a pay-phone immediately after landing and called producer Jerry Bruckheimer to tell him he was in.

4. Paramount spent $1.8 million on aircraft and navy ships from the Pentagon,which was relatively cheap. But it did mean that Paramount had to send the script to the Pentagon for approval.

The Pentagon did make some changes to paint the military in a better light, such as changing Goose’s death (spoiler alert, sorry) from an airborne crash to an ejection.

The navy also capitalised on the Blockbuster movie by setting up recruiting booths outside theatres screening the movie, as well as releasing a Top Gun-esque recruitment advertisement.

5. Tom Cruise had to wear specially lifted cowboy shoes for his scenes with Kelly McGillis, as he is 5’7 and she is 5’10.

6. Toto, who created the wildly popular song Africa, were supposed to release the film's first single Danger Zone, but the band’s lawyers and film’s producers could not come to an agreement.

Instead, the song went to Kenny Loggins, who made it into a true blue American classic.

7. A sequel comes out this month, starring Kilmer and Cruise from the original as well as a slew of new cast members, including Jon Hamm and Jennifer Connelly.

Here is the film's synopsis:

"After more than 30 years of service as one of the Navy's top aviators, Pete 'Maverick' Mitchell is where he belongs, pushing the envelope as a courageous test pilot and dodging the advancement in rank that would ground him.

Training a detachment of graduates for a special assignment, Maverick must confront the ghosts of his past and his deepest fears, culminating in a mission that demands the ultimate sacrifice from those who choose to fly it."

The sequel has received pretty good reviews from critics - 97% of Rotten Tomatoes, 81% on Metacritics. Time Magazine even called it better than the original.

8. Charlotte Blackwood AKA Charlie, played by Kelly McGillis, is based on real navy employee Christine Fox . Filmmakers originally wanted Charlie to be a groupie or gymnast, but when they met Ms. Fox and her clicking heels, changed the character to imitate her. Fox even served as the acting U.S Deputy Secretary of Defence from December 2013 to February 2014.

christine fox and kelly mcgillis as Charlie Blackwood