The Most Astonishing Top Gun Facts


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 was ever made in the 80s, with everyone having a favorite saying from the movie.

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. Instead, they had asked both Toto and REO Speedwagon if they were interested in writing a song for the film first. Both turned the proposal down for varying reasons, so it was Kenny Loggins who eventually got the accolade.

Tom Cruise – Then and Now

Tom Cruise did incredibly well off the back of the cult film. Especially if you consider that he was not even first choice for the role of Maverick. At the time he was making other classic 80s film and so 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 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 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. At the time, Kilmer was the 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. More recently, 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.

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. However, he was not first choice, in fact, he was not even the second choice. He was eventually approached when four other actors had declined the part first. Patrick Swayze had been asked first, followed by Sean Penn, Nicolas Cage, and John Cusack. Shocked? Keep reading to find out more amazing Top Gun facts.

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. Goose is Maverick’s best friend and sadly passes away in the film following a practice flight going wrong. 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. He was much loved there too and played the character for almost a decade.

The Film’s Dedication

Die hard fans of the film will know that it is dedicated to a gentleman called Art Scholl. He was a test pilot who was working on the film when sadly he 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. The producers only thought it right to dedicate the final film to him in his memory, therefore.

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. He went on to film many more successful films and TV series. 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. Read on to find out yet more Top Gun facts you never knew.

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. He was fired not once, not twice but three times in total over the film’s production. 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 prostitute. Luckily, he was rehired to finish his work on the 80s classic.

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. He went on to star in other cult films like Total Recall and Starship Troopers. His one of a kind voice has also 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 during the 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.

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 the 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 through 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 makes 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.

The Profiteers

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.

The Reviews

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 good films 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.

The Trophy

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 in 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.

The US Navy Oversaw Production

For Top Gun, ensuring the movie’s realism was extremely important for producers. They didn’t only target something as close as possible from reality, but they also wanted the public feeling like they were really experiencing the movie on the deepest level. For that reason, the producers went the extra mile and actually asked the help of the US Navy in the movie’s production and the script. Having the Navy’s help made many changes to the movie such as softening the language and changing the location of the opening dogfight.

Bryan Adams Didn’t Want Top Gun To Use His Song

Amongst others, Matthew Modine wasn’t the only celeb to blatantly turn down Top Gun. The Legendary Bryan Adams rejected it too. Top Gun had initially planned to use his song “Only The Strong Survive”, but Bryan Adamas wasn’t really up for it and said no. The reason was very personal, as he felt like the movie glorified war way more than the other way around.

There Was a Sequel

Did you know that there was a sequel written afterward? Apparently, there were plans for a Top Gun sequel, and they got pretty far in the making. It went on the to the stage of having a script written, where Cruise plays Top Gun instructor. In it, he basically mentors a female version of his younger self. Unfortunately, though, studios felt that making the sequel was way too expensive and it would probably not be as profitable.

79 Mistakes, and Counting…

Even though the production did its best to barely make misrepresenting mistakes, even with the Navy’s supervision there were more than 79 mistakes. According to experts, a total of 79 misrepresentations were observed in the film, including personnel sweating like crazy in ships that are known to be freezing cold.


Well, this is a weird one. The real-life Top Gun school, to which the movie owes its inspiration doesn’t really want to hear any Top Gun quotes. If a student or anyone within the school percent is caught quoting the Top Gun movie in the Top Gun school, they will be fined! Well, we definitely didn’t expect that.