TOP GUN FACTS

In the meantime here are 31 things you probably didn’t know about the 80s action movie.

1. More love scenes please

The lift love scene between Kelly McGillis and Tom Cruise was only added after test audiences demanded more obvious romance. 

McGillis had already cut her hair and dyed it darker for another movie role, which is why she’s wearing a baseball cap and the bedroom scene is all in silhouette.

2. We nearly didn’t get Kenny

Kenny Loggins wasn’t actually the first choice for Danger Zone. Toto and REO Speedwagon were offered the chance first, before the honour went to Kenny.

3. All the actors Maverick could have been played by

There were a lot of actors in the running for the Maverick role – Sean Penn, Matthew Modine, Patrick Swayze, Emilio Estevez, Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, Matthew Broderick, Michael J. Fox and Tom Hanks.

4. The theme song could have been very different

The Top Gun team asked Bryan Adams to allow them to use his song Only The Strong Survive on the film’s soundtrack but he refused as he felt the film glorified war. 

5. A pilot died during filming

The film is dedicated to Art Scholl, a stunt pilot who was killed during production when his plane went into a tailspin and crashed into the Pacific Ocean.

6. The director was fired…more than once

Director Tony Scott was fired three times during production. Once was for making Kelly McGillis look beautiful in a way the studio considered “whorish”. Naughty Tony.

7. It was pitched as ‘Star Wars on Earth’

The film was pitched as “Star Wars on Earth” – it was based on an article that appeared in Californiamagazine in 1983. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer read the piece and pitched it to his producing partner, Don Simpson. 

8. There was only one actor who didn’t get sick

Anthony Edwards, who plays Goose, was reportedly the only one of the actors not to vomit when flying in the fighter jets. Well done Anthony.

9. How much?

Flying was more than a little bit costly. Every hour of F-14 flight cost Paramount $10,000.

10. But it did make A LOT of money

Top Gun was the highest grossing film on 1986 with $177 million in the US. The second and third spots were taken by Crocodile Dundee and Platoon. 

11. There was going to be a sequel – it was even written

It would follow Maverick as an instructor at the Top Gun academy with a female pilot reminiscent of his younger self coming under his charge. It was far too expensive so canned.

…but now there’s a sequel back in the works, lucky us!

12. Goose’s actual name

Goose’s actual name is Nick Bradshaw. You’re forgiven for not knowing this as it’s never mentioned in the film.

13. Studio’s thoughts on the movie

One of the notes the producers received from the studio, Paramount, was “Too much flying”.

14. McGillis was too tall

At 5’10”, Kelly McGillis was three inches taller than Tom Cruise. McGillis was asked to act barefoot after the studio raised concerns over the height difference.

15. There were other directors in the running

John Carpenter and David Cronenberg were both in the running to direct before Tony Scott (Ridley’s brother) was signed.

16. Recruitment for the Navy

Producer John Davis claimed that Top Gun was really a recruiting video for the Navy. He thought the public’s reaction would be: “Wow! I want to be a pilot.” Well…it worked. 

The US Navy said the amount of young men who wanted to be Naval Aviators went up 500% after the movie’s release.

17. Children’s movie cameos

The Disney movie Planes (2013), had a small tribute to Top Gun . Both Val Kilmer and Anthony Edwards were also used in the voice cast. 

18. There’s no trophy

There is no Top Gun Trophy in real life. Life isn’t the same with this knowledge, I know. You either pass the course or you don’t. 

19. *Geek alert* plane mistakes

When Maverick is going into a flat spin, you hear a voice while the camera pans over to look at the rear of his F-14. They say: “Engine 1 is out” and the right engine flames out.

This would have actually been Engine 2, because Engine 1 is the left engine. Little bit of geek plane fact for you there.

20. Another one?

Anytime Maverick “puts on the brakes”, it shows him pushing the throttle quadrant forward and pulling back on the stick.

This would have actually put him in a full-afterburner climb, but that doesn’t make you stop and it wouldn’t work in a medium speed tail chase. The air brake doesn’t do much for the F14, because it’s too small and not deployable at full power.

21. You can visit the bar they sing in

Maverick, Goose, and their dates sing in a bar, which is real and is still open.

It’s called Kansas City BBQ, and is on Harbor Drive in San Diego, California. In 2008, there was a fire that destroyed a lot of memorabilia. The piano is still there, and they still offer Top Gun t-shirts. 

22. I’ve seen those missiles before

The US Navy offered a lot of assistance to director Tony Scott while filming. They did, however, tell him that he could only fire the F-14’s missiles twice. Scott filmed them both, then decided to reuse those same shots throughout the movie.

23. China used the footage

In 2011, the Chinese government showed scenes from Top Gun , but they claimed it was the Chinese Air Force. 

24. Why did Goose have to die?

The writers said it was a tough decision to kill off Goose, but they needed to an emotional element to the movie.

25. Kilmer and Cruise didn’t get on

In case you missed it, there was a lot of tension between Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer. That wasn’t acting. The two never interacted on set and didn’t get along.

26. Ray Bans got a boost

Ray Ban sunglasses have a lot to thank Top Gun for, the brand got a nice boost in sales during 1986.

27. Shirtless scenes were added later

The locker room and volleyball scenes where Maverick and his colleagues are shirtless were added later – so Tom Cruise could show his body off for his female fans.

28. Why did they have those patches?

The Seabees patches were worn on the jackets because the Navy Seabees helped build the set. The Seabees are a construction unit.

29. Going where VHS had never gone before

The VHS 1987 release of Top Gun was the first time the format featured an official commercial before the movie. There was a 60-second long Top Gun-inspired Diet Pepsi ad – it allowed US retailers to drop the price by three dollars. Every little helps.

30. So many parodies and homages

It’s inspired so many parodies and homages from Hot Shots!, to Saturday Night Live sketches and who could forget Will Young’s video for Switch It On.

The weirdest has to be Quentin Tarantino’s discussion of the homoerotic subtext in his cameo on the 1994 rom-com Sleep With Me.

31. There’s a sequel FINALLY on the way

Most importantly, after all these years there’s a a sequel on the way. Production company Skydance revealed in 2015 they had chosen Justin Marks (The Jungle Book) to write a screenplay for a follow up.

CEO David Ellison said the film will focus on drone technology and fifth generation fighters, while Val Kilmer confirmed on Facebook he will be returning as Iceman alongside Tom Cruise. Now Tom Cruise has shared a photo from the movie saying #Day1.

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