Making Of...
Making Of...

Top Gun Behind The Scenes

Top Gun Picture
A young Tom Cruise propelled into super stardom.
Go behind the scenes and learn what went on during the making of the 1986 Action / Adventure movie starring Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, Val Kilmer et al.
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.
Contributed by: 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.
Contributed by: Jessie
Val Kilmer apparantly did not want to be in this film, but was forced to by contractual obligations.
Contributed by: 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.
Contributed by: 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.
At that time the F-14's cost more than $7,000 per hour to fly in gas costs alone!
Contributed by: Nick Ainsworth
The F-14 Tomcat aircraft that is featured was quite old at the time - 13 years in fact, having first been released in 1973.
Contributed by: 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.
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.
Contributed by: 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.
Contributed by: 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!
Contributed by: Lisa
All of Maverick's stunt flying in the film was done by Scott Altman, who later went on to become an astronaut.
Contributed by: Dean
Matthew Modine was allegedly originally offered the role of Maverick but turned it down due to the film's "pro-war sentiments."
Contributed by: 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).
Contributed by: 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."
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 Kawasaki Ninja 900 / GPz900R. -Editors note: I thought I'd confirmed this, but Nigel Heald kindly wrote in to say that the motorcycle is actually the visually very similar GPz750R...
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.
Contributed by: 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.
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.
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Deleted Scenes
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Alternate Versions
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Top Gun