Q.It’s been 36 years since when the original Top Gun came out. Does it feel that long for you?
It really doesn’t. Top Gun was an incredible moment for me in my life and career, but while the journey has been a long one from that first movie to this one, it really doesn’t feel like 36 years. It’s amazing.
Q. How hard was it to get back into character as Maverick?
That was something we thought about a lot in terms of tone and structure and showing Maverick as the same guy he used to be, but also different because of the years that have passed and the life he has led. I really enjoyed picking up the character from where we left him at the end of the first movie and showing his life journey to now.
Q. At what point did you decide you wanted to come back as Maverick in a Top Gun sequel?
Decades ago. It was something we had been talking about for a long, long time. Everywhere I went, people would ask me about the possibility of a Top Gun 2 but it was never going to be that easy. We had an idea that it had to be done practically, but I didn’t really know how to pull it off. The biggest challenge was the technology required for us to tell the story and show the aerial sequences in the way we wanted to. It had to be right and it took a lot of commitment and effort from a lot of people to make it happen.
Q. What did you set out to achieve with this movie that perhaps the original didn’t?
The goal was really to make it even more of a visceral experience for the audience in terms of the aerial sequences while still telling a compelling and emotional story with both new and returning characters. While working with planes and new techniques for aerial shots in American Made and Mission: Impossible, I always had Top Gun in mind in terms of finding a way to make it work. I knew I had to get it just right and then find the cast, the crew and the pilots to be able to pull it off. It’s a credit to everyone who worked on this movie that we have. It’s a true collaboration.
Q. How much flying did you get to do in this movie?
I got to do a lot. The P-51 Mustang you see in the movie is actually my plane, so I got to pilot in those sequences. I also got to be in the jet fighter a lot more this time, which was thrilling. It was something I had been working up to––to shoot practically inside these planes in a way that just wouldn’t look the same in any other way. We found a way to do it and then it was my job to train the amazing cast we had to be able to sustain these incredible G-forces while performing and also to train the incredible Navy pilots, we were so lucky to have, in how the cameras work, about lighting and how editing works, so we could get the shots we needed.
Q. How instrumental was Top Gun in sparking your love for flying and aviation?
I grew up loving aviation. I had a Spitfire and a P-51 on my bedroom wall. All I ever wanted to be was pilot or an actor so Top Gun was a huge moment in so many respects, including my passion for aviation. Top Gun was life-changing for me. I got to actually fly in an F-14 jet which was a dream come true and play a character I loved in Maverick. That experience has stayed with me and been part of my life ever since. Even now I can be flying my P-51 and the tower will call me, “Mav” over the radio and ask me if I want to do a flyby. Even just on the street, people quote Top Gun lines to me probably more than for any other movie. It’s an amazing buzz to bring this character back alongside such an amazing cast and crew.
Q. Do fans ever want you to sing ‘You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling’?
Oh, all the time. Any bar anywhere and that’s the song. I love it and I have no problem singing it.
The music is a big part of Top Gun. How did you get Lady Gaga to be a part of the soundtrack?
I basically just asked her. It was at a point where we had shot the movie, we had an amazing score from Hans Zimmer and Harold Faltermayer, who worked on the first movie of course, but we still had a window of opportunity for something else. I had seen one of Lady Gaga’s shows in Vegas and been amazed, so I called her, asked her if she could help us. She sent the song over and it was perfect. Her song really is the heartbeat of the Top Gun: Maverick score.
Q. Anyone who has seen the Top Gun: Maverick trailer will know that Iceman has a part to play in this new story. How important was it to you to involve Val Kilmer?
It was very important to me ––to all of us. I can’t really say anything more than that.
You are famous for pushing yourself to extreme for your movies. What makes you take risks like that?
I really don’t see it as taking risks. To me, it’s all part of what I love to do, which is making movies, telling stories and entertaining the audience. I love making movies and the action stuff, the stunts and the physical aspect is all part of the fun of what I’m so lucky to get to do. I love the process and I love supporting and teaching others. My goal is always to try and do something that hasn’t been seen before on screen .
Q. Finally, when you look back over your career, where does Maverick rank amongst all the characters you have played?
I couldn’t say. Every character, every movie and every experience is special to me. I’m just proud and grateful for the opportunities I have had and to have worked with the people I have. I truly hope to keep being as fortunate.