Writers and producers spend decades trying to convince Tom Cruise to make the sequel to his 1986 hit Top GunBut he “really didn’t want to” mess with perfection and risk ruining the legacy with a shotty continuation. But when director Joseph Kosinski came to him with the plot of Top Gun: Maverick, his attitude changed.
Cruise has gone on the record several times saying that he wasn’t entirely against bringing Pete “Maverick” Mitchell back to the screen. But he felt like most pitches over the years were tacky or lackluster. And he felt like they were just half-hearted attempts to make quick money by riding on the original movie’s success.
Luckily, Cruise always listened to the ideas that came his way, however. So when Kosinshi asked for a meeting, he was all ears.
As the director shared with Deadline, the Jerry Maguire star was already hesitant about a sequel. And the original director, Tony Scott, was also opposed, which “made it even less likely.” But he went ahead and threw his idea out there anyway. And as we all know, it stuck.
“I pitched the idea of this story being a reconciliation between him and Rooster set against this mission that would take Rooster into this very dangerous situation, that they’d end up together across enemy lines, having to resolve their differences and work together to get back home,” Kosinski explained.
The ‘Top Gun’ Sequel Gave Tom Cruise an ‘Emotional Reason’ to Revive Maverick
Rooster is the son of the Goose, Maverick’s best friend who died during a training mission in the first installment. The emotional elements of the long-lasting resentment felt by Rooster added a true storyline to the sequel. And unlike most ideas, Maverick wasn’t just about the action. So Tom Cruise was immediately interested.
“As soon as I pitched that idea, I could just see the wheels in Tom’s head start to turn. And all of a sudden, he had a very emotional reason, a hook back into this character, and a reason to come back,” he continued. “Because I think in his mind it was like a one-in-a-million shot that we would be able to get it right.”
As history proved, Kosinski and Cruise did get it right. Top Gun: Maverick broke a long list of records during its run in theaters. And it continued breaking records after its streaming release. And now, its getting another round of fame as awards season kicks in .
“He kept saying, ‘Joe, we got to hit a bullet with a bullet.’ And that was his line in this movie,” Kosinski added. “And so, I certainly heard that in my head every day as we were making the film. I think everyone who worked on this film felt like the bar was very high because we all were fans of the original.”