“It’s hot. It’s uncomfortable. You can’t go to the bathroom for a couple hours.” That’s how Top Gun: Maverick director Joseph Kosinski describes the conditions inside the real fighter jets where actors filmed flying scenes for the action-adventure movie starring Tom Cruise and Miles Teller.
All of that plus G force and a camera blocking your view out the window? It’s enough to make a person sick — and it did.
“A lot of them got sick,” Joseph Kosinski said during a panel at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Cinema Society event.
“The forces on your body, they’re called G’s. So when you’re turning at high speed, they were experiencing up to seven and a half times their body weight on some of these turns. And what that does is, all the blood in your head goes to your feet. So you need to strain your body to push the blood back into your head so that you can remain conscious,” he said.
“It’s a technique that fighter pilots have to do to remain conscious to do these maneuvers, and our actors had to learn how to do that. And then they have cameras in front of them which are blocking their view. So it’s giving you — it’s like a really bad case of road sickness.”
Kosinski mercifully didn’t call out any actors for vomiting mid-air by name, but a good guess would be Miles Teller, who has previously said that he broke out in hives after a filming a flying scene and also found out he had jet fuel in his blood.
But once they saw the footage they were getting, all of the actors toughed it out and “powered through,” Joseph Kosinski said.
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“The real pilots, until they get their G tolerance built up, they often get sick, too. A couple of them got sick, and I have to say, they would get sick and then they would continue filming to get all the shots. So it was just pure will and dedication from all the actors on this to get the shots.”
None of this was a problem for Tom Cruise, of course.
“Now when we started this, when I first pitched it to Tom, I knew Tom could do it because Tom’s an aerobatic pilot, he knows how to pull G’s. I knew Tom would be able to do this. But I didn’t think the other actors were going to be able to do it,” Kosinski said.
So Cruise created a flight training course for them to learn.
“What Tom did was, he created a training program for all the other actors in the film. So he created a three-month course that started them in really simple propeller planes, like your first flight lesson. Then they graduated to an aerobatic airplane, which is more intense. Then they went into a very small lightweight jet to experience five or six G’s. So after three months of this training — it’s called building up your G tolerance — and understanding how planes fly and getting comfortable, then they got to go in the real Navy fighter, and all of them were able to do their scenes in the F-18 for real, being flown by real TOPGUN pilots, both men and women, in this film.”
Watch the full interview with Kosinski below:
Main Image: A still from Top Gun: Maverick courtesy of Paramount Pictures.