Top Gun releases on 26 June 2020 and it’s more than 30 years when it first released in 1986. But that’s a piece of information which you might already know, you are here to read about those facts which you don’t know about.
The point is, I feel the need, the need for seven things you didn’t know about Top Gun, probably!
Since Top Gun was made during the early 80s, they couldn’t rely on digital effects to get the shots they needed, which meant getting real shots of fighter jets at 28,000 feet, not on a sound stage. And that meant getting the cooperation of the United States government. The production team worked in cooperation with the Pentagon and the Navy to get all the shots of real flying and real jets for the film. And Washington hooked them up because they were excited about the project, they only charged the production for fuel, which was still a good chunk of the budget in the end. Buying jet fuel isn’t exactly like going to the local Chevron, you know.
The Navy also allowed them to fire one, and only one missile for the film. They were able to double that missile count by just flopping the shot and reusing it, AKA, movie magic, AKA, a bonus thing you didn’t know.
You probably didn’t know that they put the actors in those jets for a lot of the shots in the film. I mean Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer didn’t pilot them, obviously, but they were up there. So if the exterior plane shots we’re typically seeing a real military pilot in the front seat with one of the actors in the back. They wanted to film the actors when they were really inside the cockpits in flight, for closeups, and then just fake the back seats for the front as needed. Problem was nearly all of the footage of the actors in the cockpits on real flights was pretty much unusable, because they were all barfing a lot.
Hey, you try pulling five or six Gs when you’re not used to it and see how well you do. By the way, all of the actors who went on flight runs did go through a training program so they’d know what to do if something went wrong while they were in the air. Which, geez, I would hope so. That’s like the least they could do.
While Top Gun did work hard for authenticity when it came to the aerial footage, there are a lot of parts in it that are totally inaccurate, namely all of the showering and locker room hijinks.
The real Viper, Peter Pettigrew, was the technical advisor and he did his best to impress upon the production team that all of the guys running around in towels, simply would never have happened at the real Top Gun. In reality, most of the guys would just go home in their flight suits or change in their cars.
Hmm, I wonder what the beach volleyball matches were like at the real Top Gun. Like was it less baby oil or way more?
Anyway, the writers and producers felt like the locker room was a place where characters could say things they wouldn’t be able to say anywhere else. And they looked at Top Gun more like a sports film than a military one anyway. As for all the half-naked guys in it, well that was just something for the ladies.
Since we mentioned the writers, here’s an interesting thing about them.
Top Gun was written by Jim Cash and Jack Epps Junior, a writing team that in 25 years of working together, only did so in the same room once. Cash lived in Michigan, while Epps was in Los Angeles. So they’d collaborate over the phone, through the mail, and eventually by computer. Epps took their meetings in LA, and Cash would join by speakerphone or he’d just get filled in after the fact. And that’s all because Cash didn’t fly, which makes it pretty ironic that he co-wrote the most famous flying movie of all time.
Except for Snakes on a Plane.
Let’s talk about this scene.
Kelly McGillis is wearing that hat and you may have noticed that Tom Cruise’s hair is longer than it is in the rest of the movie. That’s because this was shot about six months after Top Gun had wrapped. They both moved on to shoot Other movies, so her hair was shorter and a different color and Cruise had his hairdo from The Color of Money. They had to add the scene in after the fact because they wanted to make the relationship between Maverick and Charlie seem more concrete and long-lasting.
But that wasn’t the only thing the Top Gun team had to come up with in post.
Once the first cut of Top Gun was completed, Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson freaked out. There was a huge problem, and it was that the movie pretty much had no story, whatsoever. Post-production became a huge endeavor to try to reverse engineer a plot, cobbling it together with the footage that they had. And one trick that they used was recording wild lines of the actors talking to use in the cockpit scenes. Since the actors were all wearing masks they could plug in dialogue any dialogue to help them build the story. So when you see their masks move on screen the actors are talking, but they’re not saying what we’re hearing. In reality, they’re most likely talking nonsense, asking their assistants to schedule their kombucha enemas or whatever.
If you’ve ever wondered why there wasn’t a Top Gun 2, it wasn’t for a lack of trying. Top Gun was such a hit, it played in theaters for a whole year and Danger Zone and Take My Breath Away were on the radio nonstop. But when the studio approached the team and said they were going to make Top Gun 2, the filmmakers let them know that they’d need to go back to the government, get permission to shoot the aerial footage, arrange the pilots, all that crap. Well, the studio wasn’t banking on that and had planned to just use whatever aerial footage they had leftover from the first film. Problem was, there wasn’t a single frame of usable footage that didn’t get used in Top Gun. There were no leftovers. In disbelief, the studio checked the reels only to discover that there wasn’t anything they could use. And that’s a good thing because we were spared a crappy Top Gun sequel that would have just been a bunch of cutting room floor scraps.
But we have our next Top Gun movie in 2020. You can watch its trailer here –