Top Gun Movie Behind The Scenes

Making Top Gun

Top Gun Picture
A young Tom Cruise propelled into super stardom.


Go behind the scenes on the 1986 Action / Adventure movie starring Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, Val Kilmer More Cast

We believe the following info is all legit. If it's bogus or you have additional info, please update us.

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The Navy only authorized two actual missile shots to be filmed for the movie. You can clearly pick out these two shots, ultimately shot from several angles each in order to use both shots repeatedly during the dogfighting scenes, because the aircraft firing the missile is holding a steady altitude and heading, something that would never happen in a real close-in dogfight. All other missile shots shown in the movie were conducted using miniatures of both the planes and rockets. The company that produced and fired the model missiles did such a good job that the Dept. of the Navy conducted a preliminary investigation into whether any additional live firings of missiles, beyond the two originally authorized, were done for the filmmakers.
Thanks to Major Mad Max
There is no such aircraft as a "MiG-28"; The aircraft used were disguised F-5 TIGERs, the single-seat fighter cousin of the T-38. We used to use F-5s to simulate MiGs in the USAF Aggressor Squadrons, and later switched to F-16s. The T-38 TALON is a a two-seat trainer used by the USAF.
Thanks to Jessie
Val Kilmer apparantly did not want to be in this film, but was forced to by contractual obligations.
Thanks to Jennifer Wey
Ally Sheedy was the origional choice for the Kelly McGillis role but turned it down. She said in an interview "Who wants to see Tom Cruise flying around in an airplane?". Boy, was she wrong! She said she regretted it and will never judge the roles by herself again.
Thanks to Shawn
The "love" scene between Tom Cruise & Kelly McGillis was shot after filming was completed. She had already begun filming her next movie and had brown hair, which is why it was all shadows. Also that is the same reason why her hair is under a hat in the scene where she is on the elevator.
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At that time the F-14's cost more than $7,000 per hour to fly in gas costs alone!
Thanks to Nick Ainsworth
The F-14 Tomcat aircraft that were featured were quite old at the time - 13 years in fact, having first been released in 1973.
Thanks to Chris
The scenes where Tom Cruise is seen flying in cockpit are not real, allegedly as Tom Cruise and others threw up during experiments to film during flight. The reality is that, although Tom Cruise did puke when he went for a ride in an F-14, thats not why they filmed the pilots in mock-ups. They wanted to do all the filming in actual airplanes but the sound quality was so bad it wasn't worth it. This is according to Lloyd Abbel, the main F-14 pilot in the movie, who now flies for northwest airlines and I met about a year ago.
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Art Scholl, a stunt pilot, was tragically killed doing an inverted flat spin for this film to get the spinning scenery on film. His last transmissions, uttered at 3,000 and then 1,500 feet, were, "I've got a problem" and "I've really got a problem." It is speculated that camera equipment affixed to the plane altered its weight-and-balance envelope, making recovery from a flat spin (normally difficult in any case) impossible. The film is dedicated to his memory.
Thanks to Angela
In the last scene where Tom Cruise is sitting at the counter and you see someone go to the jukebox and put in a quarter for "You've Lost That Loving Feeling," when Kelly McGillis and Tom Cruise's characters walk up to each other, Kelly is actually standing in a trench that was dug by the Hollywood technicians because they wanted the two to look like they were the same height, and Tom was 3 inches shorter than Kelly McGillis, so they had to improvise to make the scene look the way they wanted it to.
Thanks to Lindsey
Tom Cruise had never riden a motorcycle until this film. He actually went to House of Motorcycles in El Cajon, California to learn. They taught him in the parking lot of their shop!
Thanks to Lisa
All of Maverick's stunt flying in the film was done by Scott Altman, who later went on to become an astronaut.
Thanks to Dean
Matthew Modine was allegedly originally offered the role of Maverick but turned it down due to the film's "pro-war sentiments."
Thanks to Kenneth Sutton
John Travolta was considered for the lead role, and would have been a good choice him being a real-life pilot, but producers decided against it due to his questionable box office appeal at the time (he was then in a major career slump).
Thanks to Wwg
During a break in the filming of the hangar scene a group of Navy officers being used as extras approached Tony Scott and complained about the unrealistic collection of patches on the flight suits of the actors. He replied, paraphrasing, "We're not making this movie for Navy fighter pilots, we're making it for Kansas wheat farmers who don't know the difference."
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Both John Carpenter and David Cronenberg turned down the chance to direct "Top Gun".
The motorcycle ridden by Tom Cruise in the movie is a 1985 Kawasaki Ninja. The precise model designation is GPz900R A2.
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To achieve the brilliant dogfight sequences one F-14 was customised with 6 cameras and a Lear Jet was rigged to film the action from alongside the Navy pilots. The ariel scenes were shot in super-35mm after it was found that the widescreen anormophic lenses normally used would literally break up under the excessive G-forces.
Thanks to Juli Berry
Considering I was the production accountant on the film (under the last name of Arenson at the time), I would like to add it wasn't practical to shoot head shots in the actual planes and as far as I can recall, we had always budgeted for a gimble to be used to place the mock cockpit on. This was all done in a hanger at the back of the Burbank airport.

It was very sad about Art Scholl. It definitely was not Tony Scott's request that he do as many spins that caused his death. He was pushing the buttons. We were all shooting at the Burbank hanger when we found out. I'm well aware that there was creative license; however, we did have 2 U.S. Navy laisons working with us from Washington, D.C. to make sure we were as accurate as we could be.

Many of the fly scenes were, indeed, shot over the desserts of Falon, Nevada for about 2 weeks. One came so close that it nearly knocked one of the cameras to the ground. I still feel very lucky to have been part of a film that no one anticipated would be as huge as it was.
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Goose was originally to have died in a flaming crash aboard an aircraft carrier, but the Navy objected and the scene was changed to the 'training accident' that we see today.
Thanks to Abbie Kemmer
Although this film was made using Topgun facilities at NAS Miramar, very little was the actual space used by the real Topgun squadron. As an enlisted survival equipment man at Topgun, I spent two weekends moving the lockers from the real locker room to the next hangar and back again. The first classroom scene was in the Topgun hangar, and the scene at the Officers Club were the only real spaces used.
Thanks to stainless steel
Product placement and subliminal perception found their way to the same moment in one scene when the tower supervisor of flying, leaves the Commanders office after letting him know in no uncertain terms he was not happy with Maverick.

As comic relief, he walks out of the office and runs smack into an orderly carrying "coffee" on a metal tray. Watch closely as the orderly very carefully spins the bottom of the tray towards the camera as he "drops" the tray full of coffee cups...

Don't be shocked when you see the entire bottom of the tray is actually a colorful PEPSI COLA Logo! Its only there for a few frames... hence the "subliminal" portion of the product placement! Check it Out!
Thanks to Scott W
The opening scene, and subsequent radar room scenes, were filmed aboard USS Ranger. This was supposed to be portraying the Combat Information Center however because of the relatively small size of the radar screens in the real CIC the filming was done in Ranger's Carrier Air Traffic Control Center since it had big, orange, relatively photogenic radar screens.

There were a lot of extra panels with lights added to make it pretty for the camera.

In the scene, as the Officer walk into the room he says "Good Morning Scott . . . Morning Wells" The 'Wells' he spoke to was AC3 Brad Wells, one of the two ship personnel Air Traffic Controller to get to extra in the film. The other is seated just to the right of Brad (AC2 Daniel "Doc" Shea") .

I was assigned to the Ranger about two weeks after filming had taken place after I got out of the Air Traffic Controller School at the NATTC in Millington, TN.

BONUS: This same radar room was used in filming Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
Thanks to Bruce Trombecky
The aerial pod for filming the in-flight film scenes was obtained from the Navy at the Pacific Missile Test Center (PMTC) NAS Pt. Mugu, CA.

My boss Jim Gallagher did not want to give up the pod to the production company. An Admiral in Washington called the Pt. Mugu Commanding Officer and ordered the base to give up the camera pod.

The pod was designed to film missile launches using 16 mm high speed cameras shooting qt 400 frames per second up to mach-2+ supersonic air speed of the jet aircraft.

Next Section: Deleted Scenes

Deleted Scenes

There are often scenes cut from the final version of a movie. Sometimes these will have been seen by preview audiences, or be included in Blu-ray or DVD extras etc.

The following missing scenes from Top Gun are believed legit. If you disagree or have additional info, please update us.

Thanks to Michele Miller
The original movie release included a scene in the opening sequence where Cougar experiences "vertigo" and attempts to approach the carrier inverted. Maverick aborts his landing to swing around and talk him down.

Next Section: Alternate Versions

Alternate Versions

Sometimes, there will be several versions of a movie floating about on cable, tv or video etc. Other times, a Director may release a special cut of the movie on Blu-ray or DVD.

Aw, man.. We don't know of any alternate versions of "Top Gun". If you know better, please add one for others to enjoy. It's quick & easy
Jump To: Filming Locations
1986 Paramount Pictures
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