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‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Director Joseph Kosinski Shot as Much Footage as All Three ‘Lord of the Rings’ Films Combined

The cast and crew of Top Gun: Maverick were so determined to capture accurate practical stunts that the feature’s director, Joseph Kosinski shot as much material as all three Lord of the Rings films combined. The helmer of the upcoming action drama captured approximately 800 hours of footage, Empire magazine is reporting.

In the magazine’s most recent issue, Kosinski, who previously worked with Top Gun: Maverick‘s star, Tom Cruise, on the 2013 post-apocalyptic action-adventure movie, Oblivion, stated: “Out of a 12- or 14-hour day, you might get 30 seconds of good footage. But it was so hard-earned. It just took a very long time to get it all. Months and months of aerial shooting.

“We shot as much footage as the three Lord of the Rings movies combined. I think it was 800 hours of footage,” the director of the long awaited sequel to the 1986 action drama, Top Gun, added.

Kosinski, Cruise and the rest of Top Gun: Maverick‘s crew members and actors spent a significant amount of time practical shooting in actual planes. Those shots included not just external plane footage, but also in-cockpit sequences, which involved the cast getting hands-on with the camera equipment.

“We had to teach the actors about lighting, about cinematography, about editing,” Cruise said while also speaking to Empire. “I had to teach them how to turn the cameras on and off, and about camera angles and lenses. We didn’t have unlimited time in these jets. If they were going up for 20-30 minutes, I had to make sure that we got what we needed.”

The co-stars of the Academy Award-nominated actor, who also served as a producer on the follow-up, also chimed in on their experiences shooting their scenes in the planes. Miles Teller, who plays new recruit Rooster, the son of Anthony Edwards’ Top Gun‘s character Goose, told Empire: “You had to, a lot of the time, create an imaginary eyeline to where another jet would be, and when you say a line, your face better be telling the story. The sun needs to be at the right angle.”

In Top Gun: Maverick, Cruise reprises his role as Navy aviator Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. The sequel, which is set 30 years after the original film, follows Pete as he begins training a detachment of TOPGUN graduates for a specialized mission with unprecedented requirements.

During the training, Maverick encounters Teller’s character of Lt. Bradley Bradshaw, who goes by the nickname Rooster. During their training, the titular character faces an uncertain future as he must also confront the ghosts of his past. During the process, he’s drawn into a confrontation with his own deepest fears, which culminates in a mission that demands the ultimate sacrifice from those chosen to fly it.

The drama faced multiple production delays, due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic. But it’s now set to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival before Paramount Pictures distributes it in theaters on May 27. Besides Cruise and Teller, Top Gun: Maverick also stars Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm and Val Kilmer.

Check out more of Karen Benardello’s articles.

Karen Benardello
Karen Benardello
As a life-long fan of films and television shows, and an endless passion for writing, Karen Benardello decided to combine the two for a career. She graduated from New York's LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic in 2008. Karen has since been working in the press in New York City, including interviewing film and television casts and crews, writing movie and television news articles and reviewing films and televisions series. Some of her highlights include attending such local events as the Tribeca Film Festival, the New York Film Festival and New York Comic-Con, as well as traveling across North America to attend such festivals as the Sundance Film Festival, SXSW and the Toronto International Film Festival. She has been a member of the Women Film Critics Circle since 2012, and the New York Film Critics Online since 2019.


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