If you thought watching Top Gun: Maverick would be intense, you should try starring in it.
Filming on the action sequel took place nearly four years ago, with the cast put through the ringer by Tom Cruise in a special training program designed to put them in the shoes of real U.S. Navy pilots.
Miles Teller, who stars as Rooster (the son of Maverick’s dearly departed ‘Wingman’ Goose), was one of the actors who had to undergo the tough preparation course like none other.
Speaking to Zavvi, Teller revealed he was initially reluctant to star in a blockbuster of this size, having mostly worked on indie projects in recent years.
However, a personal visit from Cruise, who told the actor why he’s perfect for the role, changed his mind – and so, soon enough he was thrown into the deep end:
“We had to pass a program that the U.S. Navy have to do. There was something in there more intense than all the flying. It was the naval aviator over water survival training course, which takes place entirely in a pool to prepare you if you ever get ejected from an aircraft over water.
“That training all leads up to being put on this machine called ‘The Dunker’, where they strap you to a chair, blindfold you, and submerge you in water.
“Then you get turned upside down and you have to try escape, as this is what it would be like to get out of a crashed aircraft in the sea – it was pretty uncomfortable!
“I won’t say whether the training made me feel like walking out on the movie”, Teller joked, “but I will say that I was very relieved every time we landed.
“If any of the other actors tell you this experience made them think they could do what a Navy pilot does for a living, they’re lying!”
The original Top Gun was one of the most iconic films of the eighties, with Teller playing the son of a beloved character who formed one half of the decade’s biggest movie bromance.
Naturally, there was a lot for the actor to be nervous about upon accepting the role, but he worked to ensure he could pay effective tribute to Anthony Edwards, who portrayed Goose in the original.
“We certainly wanted to craft the look in a way where as soon as Rooster comes on-screen, you know he has to be Goose’s kid. That moustache, that white shirt, and that infectious good mood he’s in – you can see how the two are related.
“The really tricky part, we found, was actually effectively paying homage to the first one and putting in enough for the die-hard fans. Our goal was that we always wanted to make a movie that stands on its own – so much time has passed, a lot of it doesn’t feel like a sequel.”
This need to ensure the film operated as a standalone story for a new generation of audiences was also crucial when it came to naming Teller’s character.
The actor got to pick his own call sign and went with Rooster, but it’s likely audiences will be asking themselves why, as the son of Goose, he didn’t call himself Gosling.
“Well, that was for obvious reasons, it’s a well known name because of another actor! But more importantly, that thought did initially cross my mind, but it felt too much like we were winking at the original.
“I looked at a lot of potential call signs, there was another one in place for a while, but it just didn’t work as well. I haven’t actually told anybody what it was yet – going to keep that to myself for as long as I possibly can.
“Rooster was perfect for the character – and crucially was also a member of the bird family!”
Teller’s journey with Top Gun: Maverick started with him unsure as to whether he wanted to be a part of a blockbuster movie again. How does he feel now he’s on the other end?
“I think I initially thought that sometimes with these big blockbusters, certain things get sacrificed because you need to make a film that that everybody can go and enjoy.
“But this one is great, and I’m really proud to be part of something that will pass any language barrier or cultural difference – it’s a high octane entertaining movie, but with a lot of heart.
“It’s been four years since I made the movie, but it’s only starting to feel real now that I’ve been able to see it with an audience.
“The premiere in San Diego was the first time I’d been to the movie theater in such a long time, so to be able to see that fanfare and how people react to Tom, it was just an incredible experience.”
Just like Miles, you too will feel the need for speed when Top Gun: Maverick arrives later this week.