Top Gun: Maverick director Joseph Kosinski reveals what day on set was one of the most emotional while filming the highly anticipated sequel.
Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS for Top Gun: Maverick
Joseph Kosinski, director of Top Gun: Maverick, reveals which day on the sequel’s set was one of the most emotional. The follow-up to 1986’s Top Gun brings back Tom Cruise as Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell as he leads a new team of young Top Gun pilots into a daring mission. Maverick must battle with not only the ghosts of his past but also the present orders being given by his new commanding officer as he learns what it truly means to be a responsible leader.
One person from Maverick’s past featured in this film is his old rival turned friend, Lieutenant Tom “Iceman” Kazansky (Val Kilmer), who has since gone on to become an admiral. Most of the original Top Gun focuses on Maverick’s competition with Iceman, whereas Top Gun: Maverick reveals much of their long friendship that has since helped Maverick out of many issues with insubordination. In direct contrast to their original feud, Maverick leans on Iceman for much of this film to get what he needs to teach the young pilots as well as to have someone in the Navy with whom he was still close, especially long after the tragic passing of his partner LTJG Nick “Goose” Bradshaw (Anthony Edwards).
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Now, Kosinski has revealed how emotional this reunion between Cruise and Kilmer was on set of the sequel. In an interview with THR, the director describes the day as “one of those memories I’ll never forget,” specifically considering the talented actors returning to iconic roles they hadn’t stepped into for 36 years. Kosinski goes on to credit the respect and friendship Cruise and Kilmer had for each other enhancing the moment altogether, especially as it carried such emotional weight. On a lighter note, he cites the button at the end of the scene as a moment of not only comedic relief but also as a reminder to the constant competition the two continue to have with each other. Read Kosinski’s full quote below:
“That’s one of those memories I’ll never forget, where you’ve got this actor in Val, someone who I admired through his whole career, and having him play one of his most iconic characters reuniting with one of Tom’s most iconic characters on screen for the first time in 36 years. Just to see how much respect they had for each other as actors and to see a friendship that has evolved over 36 years. They’re just two actors at the top of their game doing this really beautiful scene for the film that’s so important. It was just a very emotional day on set … it’s not often you get to do a scene with that much kind of emotional weight in a summer tentpole film.
My favorite part of that scene is the button at the end, that sense of competition is always there. Despite them being friends, there’s still that one-upmanship that exists between, I think, all these pilots and I also think between Tom and Val. I think that competition is what kind of made their relationship in the first film feel so electric and real, in that there was a bit of a rivalry there as young actors. So just that moment at the end, that hug and that bit of humor to me is kind of what really makes the scene work.”
The moment has no doubt impacted audiences the very same way, especially considering Kilmer’s current condition. Following a diagnosis of throat cancer, the actor has been left without a voice, something that’s incorporated into his character in Top Gun: Maverick. Typeface on a screen along with some digital work helped Kilmer to speak with Maverick during their emotional conversation, but between the devastating circumstances of their talk and the ways in which Kilmer had to communicate, audiences have been moved by the performances of both Kilmer and Cruise. The scene will no doubt go on to become iconic, as the emotion from that day on set translates perfectly onto the screen for all to see.
Overall, Top Gun: Maverick has already succeeded even more than its original in a series of weekends that continue to break records for all involved. The success of this film has already started to circulate ideas about a Top Gun 3, which may follow a similar pattern to this story in terms of keeping each film different and unique to itself while also maintaining unifying threads throughout all of them. It’s emotional moments such as that captured by Cruise and Kilmer that make Top Gun: Maverick a must-watch, as it perfectly balances the essence of human experience with suspenseful action that keeps viewers on the edges of their seats.
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Molly Brizzell is a staff writer for Screen Rant with life-long passions for writing, Star Wars, and fan communities. She recently earned her college degree in Writing and Communication with a minor in English and runs her own Star Wars blog with a specialized focus on The Mandalorian. Molly also shares passions for Marvel, Stranger Things, and more, and she may be one of Din Djarin’s biggest fans. See more from her on Twitter: @mollybrizzell
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