Lewis Pullman on Tom Cruise’s ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Training, Beach Scene

Feeling the need — for taking notes. Lewis PullmanTo pull off his feat, he and his co-stars had to endure grueling training. Top Gun: Maverick fighter pilot duties — and it couldn’t be done without Tom Cruise.

“I had to just transform into a sponge and just absorb, absorb, absorb because it was a new lesson every day. I mean, he is a Titan,” Pullman, 29, exclusively told Us WeeklyCruise, 59 on Friday, June 24, 2008. “I’ve never seen anyone approach filmmaking the way he does, and I’ve also never seen someone that far into their career who still has such drive, has such curiosity, has such passion has such a reluctance to settle, is always trying to make even the smallest scenes better. And he’s so invested in learning about, I mean, he’s already learned about it, but in every asset of filmmaking, he seems to have a vast understanding of every particle that goes into making a good movie that everyone around the world can relate to. And so that was just incredible, incredible to watch.”

Lewis Pullman with Tom Cruise insealed.
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The Outer Range actor plays Lt. Robert ”Bob” Floyd in the acclaimed sequel to 1986’s Top Gun. The film’s May 27 debut saw it reach $1 billion at the box office. Cruise returned to reprise his role as Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell and insisted that the film needed to be seen in theaters. It was initially delayed by the rise in coronavirus infections.

“He’s not really competing with anyone. He is only competing with himself. So to watch somebody have that kind of internal push and pull tug of war is really inspiring and really contagious,” Pullman said, adding that Cruise took the lead on mapping out the training course the cast took part in.

Lewis Pullman Tom Cruises Top Gun Training That Beach Scene
Scott Garfield/Paramount Pictures

“We had to do all this swim training in order to get certified in order to get into the plane that wasn’t even in the movie,” Pullman recalled, laughing. “But despite all that, despite the challenges, Tom really set up this course himself, he designed this training, this training program himself. Tom Cruise was the perfect person to do it. It is impossible to know what an actor needs to perform at this level. And so it really, he kind of gave us this really gradual program and in such a way that it felt manageable and in these kind of like bite-size digestive portions where it was like, ‘OK, I think I can do this. I think this is absolutely insane, but I think I can do it.’”

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Going through “hurdle after hurdle” clearly paid off. The importance of timing and light was also important in actual production days.

Lewis Pullman Tom Cruises Top Gun Training That Beach Scene

“Learning how to handle G’s is one thing, learning how to handle motion sickness is another thing. It’s not difficult to learn how to be aware. And there’s a lot of stuff that you have to do on the day when you’re up there shooting,” Pullman explained to Use. “And so to kind of be able to handle all these different biological shifts and environmental shifts are going on and kind of like claustrophobia and you’re up in the air doing insane maneuvers while also trying to get a good performance, get what we needed for the story line, make sure that it was dynamic, make sure that the continuity worked, make sure that the sun was in the right place between two and three o’clock otherwise, the shadow of the camera [will be] on your face.”

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Other newcomer pilots — Miles Teller, Glen Powell, Monica Barbaro Jay Ellis — also needed to get prepared physically. It is safe to say that the iconic football beach scene was one reason. Pullman, however, kept the shirt on for a strategic purpose.

Lewis Pullman Tom Cruises Top Gun Training That Beach Scene

“The whole cast was undergoing some serious battles of impulse to get ready for that scene. Everyone was working hard. I was playing Bob, who’s a bit more of a library dweller. I was like, you know, I think it’ll just feel a little dissonant if Bob takes his shirt off and he is a little ripped. I also think Bob wouldn’t take his shirt off. I think that’s kind of maybe an uncomfortable thing for him to do. I think he’s a bit more of a kind of reserved, quiet guy. He kind of likes to watch how things play out before he really inserts himself into a situation,” he said. “And so I was one of the only people who really wasn’t hitting. I mean, I would go to the gym just for the camaraderie. Glen Powell was famously heard whispering to himself a lot one time while he was doing lateral flies. And I was like, ‘Glen, what are you saying?’ He was like, ‘Montage’s last forever.’”

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The line was born. That was his mantra. And then everyone started to just chant that,” he recalled. “But it was a pretty fun scenario to be a part of.”

As for whether his costars may have been jealous he didn’t have to go as hard at the gym, he mused: “I mean, maybe. But then you see the scene and everyone’s like, ‘Yeah, it was worth it.’”

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