Top Gun is a classic film from the 80s that pulled in huge audience numbers and a huge fan base. The mixture of high-speed aerial shots of fighter jets as well as the ubiquitous soundtrack alongside the, perhaps, gratuitous shots of well-toned men in either uniforms or towels, made for a sure-fire hit at the box office. Top Gun is also, perhaps, one of the most quoted films that were made in the 80s, with everyone having a favorite saying from the movie. From ‘Slider you stink’ to ‘yeehaw Jester’s dead’. The cast of the film all went on to do various things after the movie. Some had continued success in the acting world – most notably, Tom Cruise who was propelled into superstardom. Whereas others tended to blend back into real, everyday life shortly after the film was made. This slideshow details what the whole cast was up to just before the film went into production and then also what they are up to now, over thirty years after the film was released.
Kenny Loggins Theme Tune
Danger Zone is the theme tune to Top Gun that is almost as integral to the film as many of the planes are. Kenny Loggins was a big name in the 80s, but he was not the first musician that the film’s producers approached when thinking about the film’s musical score. No one really knows this, as the tune became such a huge reference for the film, almost as if it had always been meant to be in it.
Instead, they had asked both Toto and REO Speedwagon if they were interested in writing a song for the film first. They barely even considered the offer and both turned the proposal down for varying reasons. The movie’s producers were pretty disappointed with that outcome, but thankfully they had a plan B. At the end, it was Kenny Loggins who eventually got the accolade and we’re so glad that was the outcome!
Tom Cruise – Then and Now
Tom Cruise did incredibly well off the back of the cult film. He was just an aspiring actor then but has become one of the most renown actors in the Hollywood industry. Especially if you consider that he was not even first choice for the role of Maverick. Someone else was considered for the role before decided to go with Tom Cruise. And once again, we’re so glad because we can barely picture someone else playing the role of Maverick.
At the time he worked on many other classic 80s films and definitely grew to become the superstar that we know today. His personal life is therefore often splashed all over the papers – with three failed marriages behind him and his Scientologist religion, he is dogged with rumor wherever he goes. Click next to find out another amazing Top Gun fact.
Maverick and Charlie’s Relationship
Following a few test screenings of Top Gun, the director decided to follow the audience’s advice and wants by filming a couple more scenes to intensify the love affair between Maverick and Charlie, played by Cruise and Kelly McGillis. The test audience was very certain and pointed strongly towards the fact that there were barely any romantic scenes in the movie. The lacking of these scenes made the movie a little bit boring in their view.
The relationship seemed to be such an important trait within the movie plot. The elevator scene which finds Maverick changing floors in nothing more than a towel whilst Charlie is in the lift with him, was one of them. The scene was not supposed to be there initially, but it was reconsidered and ended up making it into the movie. The director and producers thought it would answer the needs of what the test audiences asked for.
Val Kilmer – Then and Now
Val Kilmer played Tom Cruise’s nemesis in the navy pilot movie. Before playing ‘Iceman’ in Top Gun in 1986, he had gotten his start in the 1984 “Top Secret”. That’s why at the time, Kilmer was best known for his parts in Real Genius and Top Secret. He went on to play notorious roles in Willow and Batman Forever as well as a remake of The Saint. His real breakthrough performance though was his role as Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone’s The Doors (1991). I mean, who doesn’t remember that?
Since then, he has played many other characters and has made quite a name for himself. He even got to portray the one and only King Elvis Presley in True Romance (1993) and Doc Holliday in Tombstone (1993). More recently, he was still seen in the movie scene, in more low key roles. Following pictures of him looking very gaunt, he has been struck down with illness and rumors abound that he is trying to beat throat cancer through the use of religion and prayer. He has since recovered, and the Top Gun sequel will be Kilmer’s first major role since his recovery from throat cancer.
Other Actors in The Firing Line
It seems incredibly hard to think of the film Top Gun without thinking of Tom Cruise at the same time – it is even harder to imagine anyone else playing the role. But like we’ve mentioned, he was not the first choice. What you didn’t know though is that in fact, he was not the second, or third or even fourth choice either. We can’t really imagine that happening becuase we are talking about the one only Tom Cruise, but in the end, the producers thought someone else was more suitable for the role.
He was eventually approached when four other actors had declined the part first. One of these actors was Patrick Swayze. In fact, Swayze had been asked first and was the absolute first choice for the directors and producers had he not rejected it. Hw was followed by Sean Penn, Nicolas Cage, and John Cusack. Eventually, every single one of these actors rejected the roles and they decided to try out Tom Cruise. Again, we can’t imagine it any other way.
Anthony Edwards – Then and Now
The part of the loveable Goose fell to actor Anthony Edwards who had, at the time of Top Gun’s production, been seen in Revenge of the Nerds. Before playing Goose in Top Gun, Anthony Edwards played a bunch of small roles. One of these included his appearance in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982). In Top Gun, Goose is Maverick’s best friend and sadly passes away in the film following a practice flight going wrong. This is seriously one of the hardest scenes to go through in the movie, as no one was really ready for it.
He is a firm audience favorite. Following the success of Top Gun, Anthony Edwards moved to the silver screen and was cast as Dr. Mark Greene on the show ER. This is probably his most widely known recurring role, which had the actor nominated four times for a Golden Globe for the show. He won in 1998. He was much loved there too and played the character for almost a decade. More recently, the actor appeared as a recurring character on Law & Order True Crime (2017) and in the TV movie Controversy (2017). He has basically only been thriving since then.
The Film’s Dedication
Die-hard fans of the film will know that it is dedicated to a gentleman called Art Scholl. This is one of the saddest stories in the history of making a movie you’ll ever hear about. Art Scholl was a test pilot who was working on the film. Suddenly one day he sadly died in an accident. He had been flying a plane that suffered from a tailspin that meant that he eventually crashed into the Pacific Ocean.
He had been much loved on the set and so everyone was stunned when he so tragically passed away. No one had been prepared for such a tragedy to occur, especially because movie makers usually take these possibilities very seriously. The producers only thought it right to dedicate the final film to him in his memory, therefore, and that’s what they did. Art’s memory will remain intact as the courageous and lovable pilot he was.
Tom Skerritt – Then and Now
The handsome Tom Skerritt played the lead instructor, Mike ‘Viper’ Metcalf, in the film. He had starred in other big blockbusters like Alien and Ice Castles up until that point. But before joining the Top Gun cast, he spent most of his years starting on TV, where he became a recurring character on shows such as Gunsmoke (1955) and 12 O’Clock High ( 1964). He went on to film many more successful films and TV series and stayed on TV for many years.
The 84-year-old actor continued acting next on Cheers (1987-1988) for a six-episode-run and then to be in Steel Magnolias (1989). On the big screen, he plays Sally Field’s husband in Steel Magnolias, whereas on the small screen he went on to play Sally Field’s husband, again, in the show Brothers and Sisters. Recently the actor came back to the big screen and was seen in films Lucky (2017) and Day of Days (2017).
Firing The Director
It was Tony Scott that directed the film that we all know and love today, but he almost did not finish making it. This movie is just full of dramatic behind-the-scenes occurrences. It turns out that Scott was fired not once, not twice but three times in total over the film’s production. How many times can the director of a movie be fired, really? The interesting trait here is that every time it happened, they ended up getting him back for obvious reasons.
One of the times he was let go, it was reportedly for thinking that Kelly McGillis looked absolutely stunning before filming a scene. The studio later went on to claim that she, in fact, looked closer to a sex worker, which was kind of inappropriate for what they were trying to create there. Luckily, he was rehired to finish his work on the 80s classic and it all ended on a good note.
Michael Ironside – Then and Now
The surly instructor, Rick ‘Jester’ Heatherly, was played by Michael Ironside in Top Gun. He plays a harsh but fair teacher who the students aim to impress with their own flying skills. His performance was widley acclaimed, and he is said to have fit like a glove in the role he played. He went on to star in other cult films like Total Recall and Starship Troopers.
You’ve probably noticed this before, but he has a very interesting voice. They didn’t highlight this in the movie itself as much, but his one of a kind voice has actaully led him to record voiceovers for animations like Justice League and Superman: The Animated Series. In a similar vein, he has also appeared on the Superman prequel show, Smallville.
A Different Breed of Goose
Anthony Edwards was a well-loved part of the cast duringthe production of Top Gun. He also won the accolade of the only actor not to throw up during any filming of the flight scenes on the F 14s. For a civilian this is incredibly surprising given the level of training that those in the military are given to help stop vomiting during their flights.
Being sick in the air whilst flying a fighter jet is due to the G-force that the plane exerts on the body. Yet, although it’s kind of a funny title to have, he has been true to this title and has owned with much pride.
Kelly McGillis – Then and Now
The stunning Kelly McGillis plays Maverick’s love interest in the film as well as being a Top Gun instructor. As well as being beautiful, she is also incredibly bright and holds a PhD in astrophysics. Before Top Gun, she had appeared alongside Harrison Ford in the film Witness.
She later went on to star opposite Top Gun co-star Val Kilmer in At First Sight. She took time away from acting in the early Noughties but returned to the big screen in horror film Stake Land.
Cost of Flying
It is reported that Top Gun 2 was written and even got to the preliminary production stages but then it was stopped owing to costs. This is because the cost of flying an F 14 is vast. Back in the 80s, it cost the studio making the original Top Gun film $10,000 an hour for every hour that a single F14 was flown.
Throw into that the cost of the stunt doubles, the actors themselves and all the insurance that is needed on top of this, the costs add up.
John Stockwell – Then and Now
The small but pivotal role of Cougar is played by John Stockwell. Only known to die hard fans, his full name was Bill Cortell. He has to retire from the Navy in the opening scenes of the film following a difficult flight that knocks his confidence. He had previously been seen in the films Christine and Losin’ It.
Following the help of Top Gun on his CV, Stockwell went on to appear in Nixon but then moved to behind the camera to direct films like Crazy/Beautiful and Blue Crush.
The Film’s Earnings
Whilst it was undoubtedly expensive to make, Top Gun did at least pull in the punters at the cinema. In fact, it was the highest earning film in 1986. In just the US, it made over $177million with $353 million being made when it was released to audiences worldwide.
The other big blockbusters that year, to put Top Gun into perspective, were Crocodile Dundee and the Vietnam war film, Platoon. Astonished? Read on to find out yet more facts about Top Gun and its production.
Tim Robbins – Then and Now
In a blink and you’ll miss him moment, Tim Robbins plays Sam ‘Merlin’ Wells in Top Gun. He is a co student of Maverick and Goose. He went on to become a household name by appearing in many a blockbuster film like Dead Man Walking, High Fidelity, Mystic River and the much revered movie, The Shawshank Redemption.
He also had a long term relationship with Susan Sarandon for almost three decades though the famous pair never walked down the aisle. Didn’t know that? Click on for more Top Gun facts.
A Goose By Any Other Name
Whilst all the students on the Top Gun course have both call signs and real names, Goose is a character that never has his actual name mentioned – which is surprising given the size of his role. In fact, the character’s full name is Nick Bradshaw.
Anthony Edwards, who played Goose, never speaks of his character’s name throughout the film so that when interviewed about the role, he has often forgotten what his character was called too and has to be reminded by Top Gun fanatics.
Meg Ryan – Then and Now
Meg Ryan plays a fairly small, though pivotal part in Top Gun. She was cast as the wife of Goose, Carole Bradshaw. She was relatively unknown at the time, only with the films Rich & Famous and Amityville 3-D under her belt. She obviously went on to become one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars and was cast in more romcoms than most actresses out there.
Most famously, she played Sally in When Harry Met Sally and opposite Tom Hanks in Sleepless in Seattle as well as You’ve Got Mail.
Too Much Air Time
Hilariously, when executives at the film’s studio saw the film, they informed the producers and the director that they thought the final cut had too much flying in it. Given the film’s subject matter, it is surprising to hear that this is what they thought.
It is unknown as to whether the producers went back and re-edited the film on the back of what the studio and its bosses had said. Given the cost of the flying scenes, the money wasted on filming would have been immense either way.
Adrian Pasdar – Then and Now
Adrian Pasdar played Chipper, or Charles Piper in Top Gun. He is a lieutenant in the film. Top Gun was his feature film debut and the part helped him to land more 80s and 90s roles in films like Solarbabies, Near Dar, and Carlito’s Way. Later in his career, he worked on small screen shows like Judging Amy and the much loved Desperate Housewives as well as the cult series Heroes.
He even did voice over work for The Super Hero Squad Show.
The Height of Love
There is often much speculation in the press about Tom Cruise and his height. The handsome actor is, in fact, just 5 foot 7 – so not particularly tall for a male. In comparison, his Top Gun co-star and on screen love interest, Kelly McGillis, is very tall for a woman.
At 5 feet 10 inches, she is a full three inches taller than Cruise. Somehow, this height difference is not often seen in the film and the pair make for a genetically blessed couple.
Clarence Gilyard – Then and Now
The part of Sundown or Marcus Williams was played by Clarence Gilyard Jr in Top Gear. He had been seen in shows like Diff’rent Strokes, CHiPs and The Duck Factory up until that point. During the film, Sundown is the pilot assigned to work with Maverick following Goose’s untimely death.
Gilyard went on to be cast in Die Hard and the show Matlock as Conrad McMasters – a part he played for four years before finally winning the part of his most famous role, James Trivette in Walker, Texas Ranger.
It was not just the studio that did well out of the film and its huge audience figures. The Navy apparently did exceptionally well out of it too with the amount of men signing up to become Naval Aviators going up by a huge 500%.
In fact, one of the producers on the film, John Davis, claimed that Top Gun was really just a massive recruitment video for the US Navy. Given the massive surge in numbers, he was not far wrong. Click on to reveal more Top Gun facts.
Barry Tubb – Then and Now
The part of Leonard ‘Wolfman’ Wolfe was played by Barry Tubb in this 80s cult classic. He is a fellow student of Maverick on the Top Gun course. Up until the film’s production he had appeared in films Mask and The Legend of Billie Jean. He had also starred in a number of episodes of the series Bay City Blues.
With Top Gun under his belt he went on to star in Guilty By Suspicion and The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. Read on for yet more Top Gun facts.
Whilst Top Gun drew in massive audience numbers, it did not always get a big thumbs up from the critics at the time. In fact, Roger Ebert gave it a measly 2 and a half out of 4 when he reviewed the movie. He famously said that the good parts were excellent but that unfortunately the bad parts were incessant throughout the film.
He continued that the aerial dogfights were the best since the film Firefox but the interactions between the characters were nothing short of dreadful.
James Tolkan – Then and Now
James Tolkan plays Tom ‘Stinger’ Jardian in Top Gun. He is in the opening sequence of the film and is often remembered for his blunt commanding style. He was a well known actor before he landed his Top Gun part and had been seen in films like War Games, Prince of the City, The Amityville Horror and, most notably, Back To The Future.
Post Top Gun he went on to have parts in films like Masters of the Universe but also reprised his role in both Back To The Future sequels.
An Ode To Top Gun
Disney Pixar has made many a good film in its time, often with lines and allusions that the adult audience will find funny even though children won’t understand what is being said at all. One such example is in the film Planes which makes a tribute to Top Gun.
Both Val Kilmer and Anthony Edwards, huge stars of Top Gun, were cast to do voice over work for the much loved family film. Read on for yet more revealing facts about Top Gun itself.
Whip Hubley – Then and Now
With a name like Whip Hubley, the man who played Hollywood in Top Gun, had to become an actor. Hollywood’s real name was Rick Neven. His handsome good looks had earned him roles in St.Elmo’s Fire prior to getting his Top Gun call up.
His acting career did not move much on however subsequent to his Top Gun fame. Whilst he continued to act, he appeared largely in TV movies and in bit parts for TV shows like CSI: Miami, The Practice and Charmed.
Whilst the course, Top Gun, is actually a real thing where naval aviators are trained up to be the best, there are a number of things that are not true to life in the film. For starters, the trophy does not exist. Top Gun is a course that is either passed or failed without students being pitted against one another like they are in the film.
That’s not to say rivalries such as the one between Iceman and Maverick won’t occur to spur real life students on to do better…
Rick Rossovich – Then and Now
‘Slider you stink’ is one of the most quoted lines from Top Gun and it fell to Rick Rossovich to play the part of Ron ‘Slider’ Kerner. He had previously been seen in The Terminator as well as some other minor parts in 80s TV shows like Eight Is Enough.
Following his part in Top Gun, he chose to continue acting and managed to win parts i Navy Seals, Roxanne and The Morning After. Click next for more Top Gun facts.
The Flat Spin Scene
Movies will often have a military advisor on them to ensure that the film is a true to life as it can possibly be. Sometimes, however, simple mistakes are made, like in Top Gun when Maverick is in a flat spin.
The audience hears that Engine 1 is out and sees that the right engine on fire before stopping – in fact this is actually called engine 2 in real life, as the left engine is always called engine 1. Click next to reveal the most astonishing Top Gun fact.
You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling
The famous bar scene was actually filmed in a real bar that can be visited even today. Whilst it is called Kansas City BBQ it is actually in San Diego, California. It is said to have been open whilst they were filming the notorious singing scene.
Sadly, in 2008 there was a fire on the premises so much of the memorabilia was burnt and destroyed. It still sells Top Gun t shirts however that are available for all fans to purchase.