‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Director Only Had One Chance to Land Tom Cruise for the Film

by Alex Falls

“Top Gun: Maverick” has taken to the skies and taken moviegoers by storm since its release in May. The long-awaited sequel has taken people back into the danger zone and into movie theaters en masse. Tom Cruise returns to headline the action and deliver the aerial thrills as “Maverick” Pete Mitchell. So far fans haven’t been able to get enough.

The film is busy tearing up box office records. Including the recent milestone of passing $1 billion at the worldwide box office. However, the film had a difficult path finding its way off the runway and onto the big screen. The film was originally set to release more than two years ago. But it faced continuous delays related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Even before the pandemic, director Joseph Kosinski faced major challenges in getting the sequel off the ground. One daunting obstacle along the way was convincing Tom Cruise to return to the role that launched him into the stratosphere of superstardom more than 30 years prior.

How Did Kosinski Convince Tom Cruise to Return in Maverick?

Kosinski had just one chance to make an impression and pitch Cruise to sign on for his concept of a sequel to the 80s classic. Nowadays, Cruise is an extremely busy man being one of Hollywood’s most bankable movie stars. As such, the director only had a matter of minutes to make his pitch to the actor. Better yet, he had to cross an ocean for the opportunity to meet one-on-one with the actor.

Kosinski detailed in the arduous experience in an interview with Polygon. He and producer Jerry Bruckheimer boarded a flight to France only to find out they had just 30 minutes to meet with the actor and pitch a major career move. “We flew to Paris, where Tom was shooting ‘Mission: Impossible.’ We got about a half hour of his time between setups. When I got there, I found that Tom really didn’t want to make another Top Gun.”

Indeed, Cruise had little interest in making the film at first. Kosinski had previously worked with Cruise on the 2013 film Oblivion. He must have known just how to sell the actor because by the time Cruise returned to the set that day, he green-lit the Top Gun sequel himself. “At the end of the pitch, he picked up the phone, he called the head of Paramount Pictures and said, ‘We’re making another Top Gun,'” Kosinski said.  

Crusie was likely turned by not only his working relationship with Kosinski, but also the director’s desire to look at Maverick’s station in life all these years later.

“I think that was honestly the element that really grabbed Tom. Because it gave him an emotional reason to return to this character.” Kosinski said, “It felt like that leveraged the emotion of the past film and those relationships that we all love, but took it in a new direction.”