In the summer of 1986, Top Gun fused music with muscles and used America’s new-found patriotic pride to assault the box office. The movie is one of just a handful of action flicks that stands the test of time. With a great story and soundtrack, plenty of action and next to no phony CGI, the film is etched into history as one of the greatest.
But the story behind the making of Top Gun might just be as impactful as the movie itself. Check out this recently rediscovered production that documents all the behind the scenes goodness:
While Top Gun seemed destined to be a smash hit, the film almost never saw the light of day. The idea of a military aircraft-centered film was conceived years earlier when the producers stumbled across a photograph of fighter pilots in a magazine. However, Hollywood studios dismissed their pitch citing little public interest in aviators.
Eventually, Paramount Pictures agreed to finance the film – even though the movie had no real story up to this point. The producers’ next task though was finding their leading role.
Their hope was to entice the then up-and-coming actor Tom Cruise to star in the movie. When finally presented with the storyboard and a rough cut of the script, Cruise expressed his skepticism.
“When I first read it, I thought it had a very thin story,” Cruise explains in the video. “And I thought, I don’t know about this.”
The producers didn’t back down. They wanted Cruise in the movie, and they were willing to do whatever it took to make that happen.
“We kept sending him scripts and he kept turning them down,” said producer Jerry Bruckheimer. “We sent outlines and re-outlines and finally we got to a place where he was sort of interested, but we couldn’t get a yes.”
In a last ditch effort to get Cruise on board, Bruckheimer brought in the big guns: the United States military. Bruckheimer made a call to Navy Admiral Peter Garrow and asked if there was any way to have Cruise ride in a fighter jet.
The Navy obliged and ultimately took Cruise on the ride of his life.
“When he landed on the ground, besides being dizzy, he ran over to a pay phone, called me up, and said ‘I’m doing the movie,’ and that was that,” Bruckheimer later reminisced.
Cruise would get the chance to ride in a number of other military jets, including the movie’s star aircraft, the F-14. And the rest, of course, is history. Top Gun went on to be an international hit, and to this day is one of the most beloved films by every generation.