- Top Gun: Maverick’ actors Glen Powell, Jay Ellis and Danny Ramirez share their work experiences and stories with Tom Cruise.
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The protagonist of Top Gun: Maverick (and, you know: Jerry Maguire, Collateral, Magnolia, Risky Business and ALL THE MISSION IMPOSSIBLE MOVIES) Tom Cruise has a reputation for doing life-defying stunts, yes, but he also has a reputation for being a fucking cool guy. We’re talking about the “this guy may be a robot programmed for ultimate niceness” level.
At Men’s Health we meet three of Tom Cruise’s new co-stars -Glen Powell, Jay Ellis and Danny Ramirez-, who shared the screen (and sky) with the 59-year-old star in Top Gun: Maverick. And they had a lot of good Cruise content to share.
Maverick is in the same spirit as the 1986 original, but also benefits from Cruise’s past 35 years of experience in action movies. “I think sequels tend to fall on deaf ears and are very disappointing because they try to recreate the magic of the original,” says Powell. “I say this as one of the biggest Top Gun fans: we’re over it. I really think we’re over it. And I think we wouldn’t have if we hadn’t had 35 years of Tom Cruise movies in between.”
You don’t hear this often, but the critics seem to agree: The sequel is the best movie. The chemistry Cruise cultivates may be part of it. And it’s clearly something he works on to make sure he gets it right. Or maybe you don’t have to work at it; maybe it’s just that cool. Maybe it’s a robot. In any case, here are the best Tom Cruise anecdotes we heard in the Men’s Health Top Gun: Maverick interviews.
On how Tom reaffirmed Glen’s decision to join Top Gun: Maverick after not landing the role he initially applied for:
Tom and I were able to talk for a long time about the making of Rain Man. He broke down how he made that movie.
He is an expert in absolutely every department. But I remember realizing at that moment, “He was talking about my character in the movie as if it were his own. He was really worried and attentive to how my character was going to work in the movie, even down to the simple indicative.” My character went through five or six different versions of the callsign. And he understood how that word would translate internationally.
The reason I felt so good about my decision is that it wasn’t like he was like, “You’re in the movie. Now do what you do. Say the lines and do what you do.” It was a constant remodeling of the clay. And it wasn’t like, “Oh, I’m going to mold my clay here. You mold your clay.” He sees acting as a team sport, and I think the great actors who have managed to do this for decades and decades continue to see it as a team sport where everybody has to carry their weight, otherwise the movie won’t work. it can be a classic.
About Tom’s control:
I have to say, even with the Linklater movie that Rick and I are writing, I called Tom for story advice. I talk to him all the time. He calls me out of the blue and says, “Hello, how’s your family? What’s going on?”
I’ve been able to work with a lot of my heroes, and that’s the beauty of the job. Tom is the only movie star I’ve ever met who comes over to check it out.
When I got my pilot’s license, I sent Tom pictures from the plane. I didn’t tell him when he was going to finish my pilot’s license. And when I got to land after completing my check ride, there was a certificate for stunt driving school, where I would learn to do all sorts of crazy things with a car as soon as I landed. And he’d say, “Welcome to heaven. Your friend, Tom.”
When you’re a movie star, there are so many more exciting people and things, and you can just exist without having to worry about other people’s big moments. He has transmitted it, and it is something very, very beautiful. After being like, “Hey, I’m writing a movie with Richard Linklater,” he’s like, “Are you kidding?! Richard Linklater?!? He just loses it and loves it.
Even something so simple… my little sister wrote a song that came out at the Olympics, that the football team ran. And he remembered the song and he remembered to tell me about it. I played it for him on the set and then he remembered. It’s little things like that. It is really generous and authentic.
Trying to hurt Tom, then hurt himself:
It’s not in the movie, so I can probably do a spoiler: there’s a bit that’s written in there where I’m basically supposed to tackle Maverick in the football sequence. And that day I am very excited. I’m covered in coconut oil, already doing the push-ups, and I have to do the scene where I have to punch Tom onto his back. Everyone is very nervous, very early in the shoot. Everyone is very nervous because I’m going to hurt Tom. And Tom is like, “Hey, we’re good. I know how to do this. I know how to take a hit.” But everyone around Tom is like, “Please don’t hurt Tom.”
So I’m like, “Okay, we’re not going to hurt Tom.” So I run to Tom, wrap him up, but be very careful to gently lower him. But trying to be careful, I hit my knee in the sand and ruptured what they call a lymphatic sac around my knee. I couldn’t walk. I had been preparing for this for months, so excited to finally play football and flex on the beach, and I was on the sidelines and so bummed out. And then I realized after the scene, that we had to reshoot the scene anyway, because we didn’t have time. It’s all magic hours, so we had to reshoot Tom. And after everyone had gone out for beer and chips, Tom said, “Hey, we’re going to shoot that scene in a week and a half.”
Future surprises about Tom:
I would love to play in the world of Mission: Impossible, but my mom won’t let me. It’s too dangerous. I told Tom when we were shooting Top Gun, and I said, “Hey man, I want to go skydiving while I’m here in London. Where can I go?” And he sent a helicopter and it was like, “You’re going to go with the National Skydiving Team. I’m going to send you to do it.” We go out there. The winds were so aggressive that they said, “It’s too dangerous.”
So I went back to Los Angeles, and I went back to living my life. And then I got a call from Tom, and he was like, “Hey man, what the hell?” And I said, “What?” And he says to me, “You never accepted my skydiving offer. Are you scared?” And I said, “No, I’m not afraid.” So he literally sent a helicopter, and some of the other Top Gun guys and my now girlfriend – this was our third date – we all went to Paris, California to go skydiving.
Tom said, “Hey, I’m going to snag this whole skydiving thing. You’re going with the Mission Impossible team. Only catch is you can’t go tandem your first time. You have to go solo.” So, we all went solo jumping out of this plane the first time we went skydiving, which was crazy.
But now Tom will send me training videos for Mission: Impossible, where he’s jumping from very low heights or doing all kinds of crazy stunts. And my mom said to me, “You can’t play with Tom Cruise anymore. This is too dangerous. This is crazy.”
On Tom being a film student, and sharing truly instructive moments:
Seeing the way you prepare, first of all, I like to think of myself as a student. I love to learn. I love reading. I love to know why people do it the way they do it, and that from a sociological point of view to the craft. I thought: “There is no one who surpasses me in studies or in work.” I am a nerd. I’ll sit up in bed and read things all night. I will watch any movie, doc or whatever.
Seeing Tom take it to the next level, and seeing how he prepares so thoroughly, made me feel like, “You’re in the Ph.D. program and I’m just starting my first year.” It was inspiring to see how someone on his level is still learning every day and breaking things down. What was really cool was seeing that in practice on set every day.
On the various stars of Top Gun: Maverick are where they belong:
Tom was very clear: “You guys are movie stars and action stars. And I can show you how I’ve done this and built this in my career. You can take what you want and leave what you want, but this is what I’ve used. These are the roadmaps I’ve used to get to where I am. I think you guys are there too.”
Tom’s door always open:
At first, Tom basically told us, “I think all of you [Ramírez, Powell, Ellis y los coprotagonistas Miles Teller, Lewis Pullman, Monica Barbaro y Greg “Tarzán” Davis] you are the next wave of movie stars. Not only in this film, but in the future of cinema. We feel very confident that they will not only do well in these roles, but will continue to push the needle forward. So my door is always open for you. Whenever you have any questions, my door is open. When you have a concern, the door is open.”
And I was skeptical because I’ve heard that many times. But then I thought, “Well, let me try. Why not? If there comes a time when I need to ask her for advice or anything else, I’ll ask her. And if she says no, that’s fine, and if she tells me yes, that would be great.
But it turned out that whenever I had a question or needed some advice, he was there. He’s so willing to share his knowledge and his passion, and what makes filmmaking special to him, and the boundaries he wants to push and why, that it honestly lifted my spirits a lot. I realized that he is not a boss just because he is. Rather, it was like going to film school with this really passionate teacher, who you know is in his blood. You are touched by the fact that he shares his knowledge with you and makes you participate.
And since then, he’s given me notes on the pitches I’ve shared with him, and he’s sent those pitches to directors he’s worked with who he thought would be a good fit. He has advocated for me for different roles with different directors. He has been a constant support.
I bring it up all the time because I think one of the most amazing leadership qualities is backing up everything that is said. He is a true leader.
The responsibility Tom believes every actor must take:
At one point, Tom told us that there is a responsibility that falls on the interpreter and on everyone who participates in the making of a film.
He mentioned a hypothetical family that goes to the movies. It is a family with two parents and two children. How much does it cost to go to the movies? Maybe $45, $50? Depending on where they’re going, maybe $60. And two hours of each of his days. The parents have worked their asses off for the week, so they invest in you, to entertain them and give them an escape from the real world, to take them somewhere nice. We have all been inspired by movies, in different scenes, at different times, even in different frames that we have connected with. And we never know what is going to be the moment that draws the audience to a character.
So for every frame you’re on camera or every minute you’re in production, take that into account, and multiply it by the hundreds of thousands of people who go to the movies. It’s a lot of accumulated hours of people’s time, so you have a responsibility to give it your all.” And, of course, he’s expressed it much more beautifully. But I’m so grateful to have come out with that perspective and to bring it to other projects. .
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