Val Kilmer did not want to be in this film, but was forced to by contractual obligations. He was mad.
Charlie's "older man" date at the officer's club is the real-life "Viper", Pete Pettigrew. He is a retired Navy pilot and TOPGUN instructor, and shot down a MiG during the Vietnam War. He served as the technical consultant on the film.
One of the unused call-signs 'Tombstone' can be seen on a black fighter pilot helmet with three red arrows in promotional photos featuring Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson.
The aircraft used for the fictional MiG-28s are Northrop F-5E (single seat) and F (two seat) Tiger IIs, which were used by TOPGUN as aggressor aircraft.
During the final furball, Stinger orders, "Ready Willard and Simkin on cats 3 and 4" - a reference to dogfight choreographer "Rat" RobertWillard and casting director Margery Simkin (or John Semcken, a then-serving F14 pilot who was the cast’s pilot liaison and a technical advisor on the film).
John Semcken, a technical advisor assigned to the film by the navy, can be seen singing alongside Maverick during the rendition of “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” in the O’s Club scene.
Bryan Adams was asked to allow his song "Only the Strong Survive" on the soundtrack, but he refused because he felt that the film glorified war.
In several locker scenes, one of the lockers is labeled as belonging to "TEX". This is the call sign for one of the top gun instructors and Mig pilots that worked on the film, Lt. "Tex" William Spence.
The piano scene and the final bar/jukebox scene were shot in a San Diego restaurant called Kansas City BBQ, at the corner of Kettner Blvd and W. Harbor Drive. The restaurant housed many props and memorabilia from the film, including the jukebox and Maverick's flight helmet sits behind the bar in a locked display case. However, on June 26, 2008 Kansas City BBQ suffered a grease fire that destroyed much of the interior of the establishment. The restaurant has since been repaired to its original state, but all of the original Top Gun memorabilia on display was lost.
The scene where Maverick follows Charlie into the bathroom was filmed at the Headquarters Building at Recruit Training Command, San Diego. [The Naval Training Center installation was later demolished in the late 1990's to make way for more Navy housing. Before the headquarters building could be inspected for demolition, the bathroom counter that "Maverick" leans on and "stress tests" was stolen.]
During the filming of some sequences from civilian aircraft, longtime Hollywood stunt pilot Art Scholl was killed. A biplane he was flying crashed off the Pacific Coast. The film is dedicated to his memory.
Director Tony Scott wrote a quick check for $25,000 to the commander of the aircraft carrier in order to capture one vital external shot.
The love scene between Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis was filmed after initial test screenings. Moviegoers complained that there was no love scene, so the company obliged. McGillis, however, had already dyed her hair darker for her next film. This is why the scene is tinted blue.
Also noticeable as a subsequent shoot due to the longer length of Tom Cruise's hair (particularly in front). The elevator scene (where Maverick and Charlie meet after Mav's workout) was filmed post-production. Kelly McGillis's hair had already been colored for another movie role, which is why she is wearing a hat. Tom Cruise's hair is longer in the shot as well.
Just before the film started production, one of the producers announced that they wanted to use the Bruce Springteen's song "Born in the USA" but attempts to secure the song were unsuccessful.
An early trailer featured The Car's song "Stranger Eyes", from the album "Heartbeat City".
Riding on the back of this film's success, the US Navy set up recruiting booths in the major cinemas to try and catch some of the adrenaline charged guys leaving the screenings. They had the highest applications rate for years as a result.
Most of the actors who portrayed F-14 crewmembers received backseat rides in the F-14, and several of the scenes which appear in the film were filmed with the actors in the air.
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Following the movie, some of the F-5s used as the "MiG-28s" maintained their black paint schemes and served as "aggressor" aircraft simulating enemy planes in the real-life Top Gun program.
The pilot that gets "flipped off" by Maverick and Goose is Admiral Robert Willard, the lead flight choreographer for the film. He was Commander of the United States Pacific Fleet (2007-2009) before transferring to United States Pacific Command.
After the "Car chase" when Charlie tells Maverick that she didn't want anyone to find out she was falling for him, Maverick originally had a line to say. Tom Cruise forgot the line and "ad libbed" by kissing Kelly McGillis instead. Tony Scott liked it so much, he left the scene like that.
Judas Priest were asked to contribute the song "Reckless" to the soundtrack, but declined because they thought the movie would flop. Two years later, they contributed a cover of Johnny Be Good to the movie of the same name, which turned out to be a flop.
Director Tony Scott was officially fired three times during production.
The callsign 'Ghostrider' that Maverick uses for his plane was the name of a real F-14 squadron (VF-142), and a model of a Tomcat from that squadron can be seen behind Sundown in the shot where Maverick tells Slider he stinks.
In early drafts of the film, the character (Tim Robbins) whose call sign is Merlin actually had the last name of Merlin, and his call sign was Wizard.
The Navy only authorized two actual missile shots to be filmed for the movie. You can clearly pick out these two shots, ultimately shot from several angles each in order to use both shots repeatedly during the dogfighting scenes, because the aircraft firing the missile is holding a steady altitude and heading, something that would never happen in a real close-in dogfight. All other missile shots shown in the movie were conducted using miniatures of both the planes and rockets. The company that produced and fired the model missiles did such a good job that the Dept. of the Navy conducted a preliminary investigation into whether any additional live firings of missiles, beyond the two originally authorized, were done for the filmmakers.
In preparation for his role, Tom Cruise was allowed to take 3 rides in the F-14 Tomcat. He vomited during the first trip but was okay during the other two.
While many terms used in the movie either match or are closely based on real terms used by naval aviators and the pilots in general, the term "going ballistic" is a real phrase that was wrongly used to describe a pilot successfully reaching maximum speed, when it actually meant that the pilot was going too slow to control of his aircraft, i.e., the aircraft is ballistic like a ball thrown in the air and will be influenced by gravity rather than the control surfaces as there is too little airflow over them. The phrase is used in Air Combat Maneuvers where the aircraft is put into a vertical or nearly-vertical climb and slows below an acceptable control speed. The pilot is then just along for the ride as gravity takes over and the airplane begins to descend and accelerate back to flying speed. The call is given over the radio to warn other pilots that the aircraft cannot maneuver to avoid a collision.
When the film was first released on VHS, it included a fighter pilot-themed Diet Pepsi commercial prior to the film.
Kenny Loggins was not the first choice to record the song 'Danger Zone' for the film. 'Toto' and REO Speedwagon were two of the groups considered prior to Loggins.
Two video games based very loosely on the movie were released on the Nintendo NES. While the first game really had no storyline, the second actually served as a "sequel" storyline, regarding Maverick going up against a new group of villains.
When the guys, as students, were first being spoken to by Charlie in the hanger, Maverick explains that he gave "the bird" to a MiG. She asks how he saw the MiG up close, and he says he was flying inverted. Right then, Ice coughs "bullshit" and the guys laughed. The "bullshit" line was ad libbed by Val Kilmer.
Harold FalterMeyer's music score was the first to be performed and recorded on the polyphonic 16 bit stereo Synclavier Digital Music System.
The motorcycle ridden by Tom Cruise in the movie is a Kawasaki Ninja 900 / GPz900R, then the fastest production motorcycle in the world.
Pete "Maverick" Mitchell's first name was Evan in early scripts of the film. It was later changed to Pete as an homage to Pete Pettigrew, who worked on the film (Pettigrew appears in the bar scene early in the film as Charlie's older male date.)
GiorgioMoroder wrote most of the music for the songs on the soundtrack. Tom Whitlock, who wrote the majority of the lyrics to these songs, was actually the mechanic who worked on Moroder's sports car.
An official release of Harold FalterMeyer's score for the film has never been done. Two pieces of score appear on the current soundtrack, but the complete score has yet to be released.
One of the deck officers on the carrier is named Scott, a reference to director Tony Scott.
Other real names of the pilots/RIOs were that are not otherwise mentioned in the movie, but only by their callsigns are: Hollywood: Lt. Rick Neven; Wolfman: Lt(jg) Leonard Wolfe; Slider: Lt(jg) Ron Kerner; Cougar: Lt . Bill Cortell; Merlin: Lt(jg) Sam Wells.
Anthony Edwards is the only actor who didn't vomit while in the fighter jets.
When Maverick receives his orders to the carrier following the graduation ceremony, there is a pilot standing behind him, with a mustache and wearing sunglasses. The pilot is "Heater" C.J.Heatley, a real-life former F-14 air show demonstration pilot and TOPGUN instructor.
James Tolkan's character is referred to as "Stinger" in the credits, but is never addressed by anything other than "Sir" throughout the film.
Tom Cruise actually had to wear lifts in his scenes with Kelly McGillis. Cruise is 5'7" while McGillis is 5'10".
An original draft of the script specified that the final showdown involved North Korean aircraft. The final script made the nationalities of the enemy planes unknown and simply specified they were MiGs over the Indian Ocean.
Matthew Modine turned down the Tom Cruise role because he objected to the film's Cold War politics.
Patrick Swayze, Emilio Estevez, Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, Mathew Broderick, Sean Penn, Michael J. Fox, Scott Baio and Tom Hanks all turned down the role of Maverick. Charlie Sheen, Jim Carrey, Rob Lowe, Eric Stoltz and Robert Downey Jr. were considered for the role of Maverick. Sheen would later go on to spoof the role in the 1991 comedy Hot Shots.
Louis Gossett Jr. was considered for the role of Viper. Gossett, however, did play the older, mentor-type role in another 80s fighter jet film, Iron Eagle.
The film was inspired by an article in the May 1983 issue of "California" magazine about the U.S. Navy's Top Gun School.
During the pilot briefing before the final furball, Stinger mentions that the MiGs carry the Exocet anti-ship missile. This is a real missile, however, it is of French manufacture and has never been used by the Soviet Union, Russia, or any of the countries that made up the Soviet Union.
Berlin's song "Take My Breath Away" was originally considered for the soundtrack of Nine 1/2 Weeks.
Rick Rossovich stated in the DVD commentary that he was kicked off of the ship used for filming because he smarted off to an officer. Rossovich had gone to sleep in the bunk (more commonly called a rack) he was assigned to, but didn't like being so close to the nuclear reactors that powered the ship, so he moved. When he smarted off to the officer who wanted his bunk back, Rossovich was told to report to the captain who ordered him thrown off the ship for disrespect.
Michael Ironside stated in the DVD commentary that he was so convincing as an officer that when he heard someone running towards him below decks, he got on to the sailor who was running. The sailor saluted and slowed down until he got out of Ironside's line of sight and started running again. The sailor never knew that Ironside was an actor on the film.
John Travolta was considered for the role of Maverick, but his agent's asking price for him was too high, especially in lieu of his recent box-office flops.
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The call sign 'Sundown' is actually a reference to a squadron of F-14s called the sundowners that have the same sundown graphic on their tail fins as on Sundown's helmet.
The F-14 pilot that "flipped the bird" at the MiG pilot was Scott Altman of VF-51, who eventually became a NASA astronaut flying as pilot on two missions and as commander on two more missions.
Jon Voight was considered for the role of Viper.
Paramount Pictures commissioned Grumman, the makers of the F-14, to develop and install special camera mounts on the plane. This allowed the filmmakers to use real aerial point-of-view footage of the Tomcat in flight.
The film was originally going to have a scene near the end where Maverick visited Goose's grave. A filmed version of this scene was never released, however still screen shots from what such a scene would have looked like are available on the special edition DVD.
Goose's real name is Nick Bradshaw. His name is briefly seen on a flight patch on top of his dresser when Maverick goes to retrieve Goose's belongings after he dies. It can also be seen numerous times written on the side of the F-14 he and Maverick fly. It is most noticeable when Goose hits the canopy after ejecting. He's only called Goose throughout the movie, even by his wife, and in the credits.