Few movies capture the 80s as well as Top Gun. The high-octane action film starred Tom Cruise as fighter pilot Maverick who competed to become the best of the best. With the movie's long-awaited sequel Top Gun: Maverick hitting theaters soon, fans are able to revisit the world of the original as well as some of the key characters.
While Maverick might steal the show in the film, Top Gun is filled with memorable characters and helped introduce a lot of stellar actors to Hollywood. Get to know the characters better and the secrets behind the making of the film with these hidden details about the main characters in Top Gun that everyone missed.
10 Potential Mavericks
Tom Cruise's star was already on the rise when he was cast as the brash and confident Maverick in Top Gun, but this role helped make him a superstar. Cruise seems perfect for the role of a man willing to push the limits to be the best and it's hard to imagine anyone else in the role.
Of course, with a big-budget action movie like this, there were plenty of bug names considered for the lead role. Among the famous faces who could have been Maverick include Patrick Swayze, John Travolta, Tom Hanks, and Jim Carrey.
9 Backseat Rides
While some critics might dismiss Top Gun as a cheesy bit of popcorn entertainment, the filmmakers did got to extremes to make the film seem authentic. One of the ways they did this was by ensuring that all the actors playing the fighter pilots had a sense of what it felt like to fly at these high speeds.
Before filming, all the young actors were required to participate in "backseat rides". Real fighter pilots took them up into the skies and showed them what that need for speed was really like.
8 Meg Ryan
Along with making Cruise a star, Top Gun is also notable for having been the film debut for another soon to be star. Meg Ryan had her first feature role in this film before she went on to star in such films as When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle.
Ryan caught many people's eye as Goose's wife. If the romance on screen seemed convincing, it's because Ryan and actor Anthony Edwards actually became an item. Given that Top Gun: Maverick will focus on Goose's son, we wonder if Ryan will make an appearance.
7 Troubled Romance
While Meg Ryan and Anthony Edwards were hitting it off behind the scenes, the main romance of the film was not as blissful. It's reported that Tom Cruise and his leading lady Kelly McGinnis did not get along during the filming. While that can sometimes happen on films, some awkwardness behind the scenes could have contributed to that.
Cruise is famously a bit shorter than he might appear on screen and McGinnis towered over him in many scenes. This required a lot of maneuvering to make them appear closer in height. Also, after test audiences demanded a love scene, it had to be shot in a matter of minutes which could not have been fun.
6 Michael Ironside
Michael Ironside is one of those great underrated character actors who immediately makes any project he's a part of a little better. He made a solid career in the 80s playing tough authority figures in films and he continues that with the tough Top Gun instructor, Jester.
Ironside can sell himself in those kinds of roles without even saying a word, which is something the actor discovered himself while filming on a real Navy ship. According to Ironside, he would often get young soldiers saluting him and standing at attention whenever he walked by.
5 Antony Edwards's Iron Stomach
Years before Anthony Edwards found huge fame on E.R., he was the doomed comic relief and Maverick's best friend, Goose. Edwards played Goose as a bit of a doofus, never taking the job too seriously and therefore seeming less experienced next to the others.
As it turns out, Edwards himself might have been the actor best qualified to be a pilot. It seems that the backseat rides led to every actor vomiting from the experience, with the exception of Edwards who made it out unscathed.
4 Val Kilmer
Val Kilmer was another up-and-coming actor who got his big break with this film. He gives a very memorable performance as Iceman, Maverick's main competition in the Top Gun program. Though Kilmer was great in the role, it is one that he very much did not want.
However, once cast in the part, Kilmer seemed to take his role seriously. As a way of selling his rivalry with Maverick more convincingly, Kilmer refused to hang around Tom Cruise at all during filming.
3 The Real Viper
Tom Skerritt is a stellar actor who gave many memorable performances playing the mentor and leader in films like Alien. In Top Gun, he plays the program's head instructor, a legendary fighter pilot named Viper.
The character is in fact based off a real fighter pilot named Pete Pettigrew. At the time of filming, Pettigrew was a retired pilot and real Top Gun instructor. He is also known to have shot down a MiG during the Vietnam War and served as a technical consultant on the film. He can be seen briefly having a drink with Kelly McGinnis' character.
2 Christine Fox
Viper is not the only character based off a real-life person. It might surprise some to know Kelly McGinnis' character of Charlie is also based in reality. McGinnis seemed to have a difficult task of playing the love interest in a male-centric movie, but her character is at least drawn from a pretty interesting source.
Charlie is based on Christine Fox who served as a civilian flight instructor who consulted with the military on a number of occasions. The filmmakers met Fox during preparation for the film and used her as an inspiration for Charlie. The real Fox became Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense in 2014, the highest post ever held by a woman at the Department of Defense.
1 Cruise Convinced
Despite the fact that Maverick remains one of Tom Cruise's most iconic roles and despite the fact that he is returning to the role after all these years, he was initially reluctant to take the part. Cruise was producer Jerry Bruckheimer's first choice for the role but had a hard time convincing the hot young star.
Finally, Bruckheimer tried an unconventional approach to getting him on board. He scheduled Cruise a flight in a real fighter jet with a real fighter pilot. By the time the flight has done, Cruise had vomited from the experience and was ready to sign on to the film.