“The only people who have F-14s are in Iran, and they have six altogether.”
We know it, Tom Cruise loves shooting action scenes. The more impressive the stunts, the happier the actor. However, on the set of Top Gun: Maverick, there are a few sequences that he was unable to shoot in person: the American army refused to allow the cast to fly fighter planes. They are available in few copies and cost about 70 million dollars each to the US government, so impossible for Tom to take control of an F-18. The director Joseph Kosinski (himself a great fan of speed) and his team were able to film on board such machines, however, provided that they were piloted by soldiers specially trained to direct them. Several shots were thus able to be filmed in the air, on board fighter planes, and variety details how Paramount managed to put together a nice collection to shoot this sequel, 36 years later Top Gun.
Jeremy Hindle, in charge of creating credible and easily usable sets for this film in the context of action scenes, was also responsible for renting planes with which the team could shoot the most spectacular sequences. The problem is that the ones they absolutely wanted, the F-14 Tomcats (a model already visible in the first opus), were a priori not available. “The only people who have F-14s are in Iran, and they have six in all and for all”explains the interested party to the American magazine, before detailing that they therefore appealed to a museum. “There are no more F-14s in circulation in the United States, they have all been decommissioned. The American army no longer uses them.” A model corresponding to the one they were looking for was on display at the Air and Space Museum in San Diego, and it was this one that the production chose, even if it meant moving it 500 miles away, to Lake Tahoe, in pieces. detached, to reassemble it on the shooting location. Then it had to be made functional again. “For example, we had to make it operational enough so that the cockpit could open, he explains. The Navy did everything to help us make this movie, it was amazing.”
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For planes piloted by Lt. Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller) or Jake “Hangman” Seresin (Glen Powell), other models, currently in service, were needed. In particular an F-18 Super Hornet capable of spinning at 915 km / hour. But also other models, in order to show on the screen the diversity of the machines used by the airline pilots. They ordered about twenty of them from the army, which were therefore led by real pilots, with an actor in the back. “We collected them from all over the country, because for once, these planes work well, they fly, always do their job.” Once these machines were brought together on the aerodrome where the action scenes of the film were shot, it was necessary to repaint the helmets of the actors in the colors of their characters. “Everyone has a story, the design of Hangman’s is not the same as Rooster’s. The audience has to understand in a second who they are when you see them on screen. It was an idea of Ridley Scott on the first film, and today, everyone does that!”
There’s also a plane in the movie that they didn’t need any research on: a North American P-51 Mustang, which is piloted by Tom Cruise himself. And for good reason: it is quite simply the actor’s private plane, which he himself brought on the set! “He flew from Florida to California to drop him off at our hangar”comments Hindle, then shot a sequence on board with Jennifer Connelly, who plays Penny.
Tom Gun: Maverick is currently in theaters, and it got off to a strong start at the box office. Here is its trailer: