Tom Cruise – Top Gun (1986): “I always thought I was an actor playing a character who thinks he’s a star”

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40 years of Hollywood blockbusters: Top Gun (1986)
Paramount

A look back at the creation of the first Top Gun (this evening on M6), while its sequel has just created the event on the Croisette.

Tom Cruise was THE star of the day yesterday at Cannes. A preview “supersonic” of Top Gun: Maverick was organized on the Croisette, during which the actor received a surprise Palme d’Or! The party will continue this evening, M6 programming a special evening dedicated not only to this sequel, via a program called Top Gun: behind the scenes of the big comebackbut also by rescheduling Tony Scott’s first film, released in theaters in 1986, in prime time. in one of the new issue of Premiere Classics (n°19, April-June 2022).

Cannes 2022: Tom Cruise received a Palme d’Honneur at the presentation of Top Gun: Maverick

Tom Cruise was already a star before the summer of 86, but it’s Top Gun which makes him an icon. In the months following the release of the film, if applications for the Navy and the United States Air Force suddenly start to skyrocket, it is because all the kids in America want to look like Maverick, the pilot pilot. burned from the Fighter Weapons School. Three years before, it was the same people who had all gone to buy a pair of Ray-Ban Wayfarers when they left Risky Business. For the actor, the film will be more than a stepping stone to fame: a manifesto. A banner. We will find echoes of Maverick in almost all of his future characters: the pilot of Thunder Days (Top Gun with cars), the bartender of Cocktail (Top Gun in a bar), Ethan Hunt, Jerry Maguire… And the public will end up confusing him with this character of a young Reaganian wolf with long (and very white) teeth, a type solely driven by performance and excellence. For the interested party, it’s a little more complex than that, as he brilliantly explained one day in an interview: “People say to me, you’re just a star in Top Gun. But I always thought I was an actor playing a character who thinks he’s a star.” A perfect synthesis of his career.

Top Gun: Maverick is a euphoric blockbuster despite too much fan service [critique]

Yes Top Gun is a manifesto, it is of course also that of its producer duo, the amusing don simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer. At that time, the two partners had already exploded the box office and redefined the rules of business with flash dance and The Beverly Hills Copbut Top Gun (No. 1 of the year 1986, 356 million dollars in receipts on arrival) is the ideal concentrate of their ambitions: pitch “high-concept” comprehensible in a fraction of a second (“It’s Star Wars on Earth”said Bruckheimer at the time), exaltation of the pre-pubescent teenager who slumbers in every male spectator, rock FM and syrupy pop in soundtrack (the “Take My Breath Away” of Berlin, composed by Giorgio MoroderOscar for best song), script at the level of the daisies and pure visual orgasm on arrival… The film seals above all their meeting with the man who will be able to stage their fantasies better than any other, Tony Scott. The brother of Ridley yet had only one feature on his CV, an admittedly sumptuous vampire film (The predators) but who had badly bidé. No big deal: Don and Jerry were fans ofan ad that Tony shot for Saab, where a car raced against a fighter plane. Scott says: “At first, I thought I would do Apocalypse Now on an aircraft carrier, something visceral and relentless. But I didn’t understand anything! What Simpson and Bruckheimer wanted was popcorn cinema. One evening, I had a flash: these elite pilots were the rock stars of the sky. That’s how they had to be filmed. We shot in the first degree, without trying to intellectualize anything“. Scott nevertheless studies photographer Bruce Weber’s arty photos closely, injecting a hint of homo-erotic turmoil into the locker room and beach volleyball scenes (traumatizing Tarantino in the process). We sweat a lot in this film. Simpson and Bruckheimer will hand him the keys to the store on Beverly Hills Cop 2, Thunder Days and USS Alabamabefore putting his foot in the stirrup to his spiritual son, Michael Bay, with bad boys and Rock.

Top Gun Maverick: Tom Cruise imposed Val Kilmer in the sequel

And Tom Cruise, of course, spent the entire filming working like a madman… Even before signing on for the film, he harassed Simpson and Bruckheimer to refine the script and flesh out the background of Maverick, notably inventing the story of the father who disappeared in the Vietnam – absent, bad or failing fathers will become one of the major themes of the actor’s film, echoing his private life. He trains for weeks at the US Naval Air Force flight school (of which the film offers a fantasized reflection), where he is told things like: “There are only four jobs worthy of a man: actor, rock star, fighter pilot and president of the United States.” Bruckheimer gets upset when Cruise, a very early-morning young man, phones him at 4 a.m. to offer new lines of dialogue. Simpson slices: “This little one will go far”.

36 years later, dope killed Don Simpson (in January 1996), Tony Scott threw himself off a bridge (in August 2012), and Val Kilmer lost his voice to cancer. Cruise continues his stunts in Top Gun 2. “I feel the need. The need for speed”… It’s been a long time, yes, since Maverick’s creed became his.

Frederic Foubert

Trailer of Top Gun : maverick :

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