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Tom Cruise arrives by helicopter for world premiere of ‘Top Gun: Maverick’: ‘Let’s light the fires’

  • May 18, 2022

“Top Gun” film blasted into theaters, Tom Cruise took the stage at the “Top Gun: Maverick” world premiere Wednesday to finally introduce his long-awaited jet-fueled sequel.

“Does anyone want to see a movie in a movie theater? Let’s do it!” Cruise, 59, exhorted the raucous, full crowd at Naval Air Station North Island’s Lowry Theater. “Let’s light the fires and kick the tires.”

Cruise had reason to celebrate at the high-octane premiere, which included his red carpet arrival by helicopter aboard the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier. After finally agreeing to return to the role of hot-shot pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell that made Cruise an international superstar more than three decades ago, the sequel has overcome production and COVID-19 delays to open in theaters May 27.

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With co-stars Jon Hamm, Miles Teller, Glen Powell and Jennifer Connelly in the audience, Cruise gave thanks to director Joseph Kosinski, who has been persistently talking about making a “Top Gun” sequel since the two worked together on 2013 sci-fi thriller “Oblivion.”

In 2017, Kosinski and “Top Gun” producer Jerry Bruckheimer flew to Paris to pitch Cruise on a return during the action star’s production of “Mission: Impossible – Fallout.” Kosinski said he had 20 minutes to convince the sequel-reluctant Cruise of his concepts.

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The new cast features a diverse team of young pilots, including the first female pilot, Monica Barbaro; “Insecure” star Jay Ellis; Lewis Pullman; Greg Tarzan Davis; and Danny Ramirez. The crew underwent an elaborate pilot training program established by Cruise for the flight shots.

“Maverick” also stars Connelly as Cruise’s new screen love interest and Hamm as Cruise’s taskmaster Navy commander. For Hamm, 51, appearing in “Maverick” was an extension of a childhood dream. His first viewing of “Top Gun” at age 15 inspired him to purchase his first set of Ray-Ban Aviator sunglasses, the same ones that Cruise wore in the original.

“You have to mow a lot of lawns to buy a pair of Aviators in 1986,” Hamm said. “I got the gold ones with the green lenses. I had them about two weeks before I sat on them in the car and absolutely ruined them.”

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The “Mad Men” star was able to put the sunglasses back on in an official capacity for “Maverick.”

“Aviators look a lot better in a naval officer’s outfit,” Hamm said.

Hamm said he was not surprised to see Cruise arrive dramatically by helicopter to the premiere.

“Tom knows how to make an entrance,” Hamm said. “We knew he was planning something special. I got here on a bike.”

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