Tom Cruise’s Reason For Stunts Makes Top Gun 2

Tom Cruise was asked why he still performs his own high-risk movie stunts, and his answer explains so much about Top Gun 2 and his role as Maverick. Top Gun: Maverick looking to be even more action-packed than its predecessor, Tom Cruise’s commitment to performing his own stunts for the Top Gun sequel is no small task. As one of Hollywood’s biggest names, Cruise is known for his thrilling blockbusters, such as the Mission: Impossible movies, and the dangerous stunts he now performs in each. Top Gun 2 will not be an exception, with Cruise doing most of his own stunts for the movie, and this dedication adds authenticity to the highly anticipated sequel.

Top Gun 2 sees the return of the rebellious and incredibly talented fighter pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. He’s back at TOPGUN as an instructor after 30 years of service in the Navy, tasked with training a group of young pilots — among them Lt. Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of Maverick’s late friend, Nick “Goose” Bradshaw (Anthony Edwards) from the original movie. While haunted by his past, Maverick must win over the young pilots and get them ready to fly the Top Gun franchise’s most critical mission yet.

Tom Cruise’s dedication to realism in his action films is a big part of why they’re so successful. When asked why he continues to perform many of his own stunts, Cruise responded (via The Hollywood Reporter), “No one asked Gene Kelly, ‘Why do you dance? Why do you do your own dancing?’” Cruise’s casual response is comically reminiscent of Maverick’s responses to his flight instructors in the original 1986 Top Gun — like his famous line “I was inverted” — and mirrors both Maverick’s confidence in his training and his thrill for rule-breaking.

U.S. Navy did not allow Cruise to fly Top Gun 2’s F-18 fighter jets due to civilian-restricted access, nearly everything else viewers see Maverick flying in Top Gun 2 is Cruise himself. And that’s one of the things that make the sequel arguably better than the first Top Gun. As noted by film critic Justin Chang (via NPR), the action in Top Gun 2 is visceral, with viewers authentically immersed in the experience in a way that only practical filmmaking can allow for, contrary to digital filmmaking tactics like CGI. Chang says, “You feel like you’re really in the cockpit with these pilots, and that’s because you are.”

Performing some of his most dangerous stunts for Top Gun 2, Tom Cruise continues to risk his own safety for his craft, and he certainly seems to have fun while doing it. Indeed, it is through Cruise’s dedication, despite the risk, and his puckish thrill at both defying conventions and crushing his own limits that Maverick, one of his most iconic characters, is brought to life. And while actors frequently embody characters they have little in common with, the idea that Cruise understands his Top Gun: Maverick character in such an innate way lends undeniable authenticity to the character.