Tom Cruise returns to the danger zone with ‘Top Gun: Maverick‘ which premieres at the 75th Cannes film festival. The sequel to the 1986 classic is expected to become a box office hit, and Cruise also spoke about why he opted for a theatrical release over streaming platforms despite the film facing COVID-related delays. 

While the 59-year-old playing Lt Pete Mitchell of the US Navy might be a trip down the memory lane for many, director Quentin Tarantino, whose ‘Pulp Fiction‘ won the Palme d’Or at the 47th Cannes had some questions about Cruise reprising his role. 

When asked about ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ for the ReelBlend podcast, the 59-year-old filmmaker replied “Well, you know, it’s funny. I know Tom a little bit and I asked him about that. I was like, ‘I guess you’re doing a Top Gun sequel?’” 

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Cruise replied in the affirmative, and Tarantino asked him “How can you do that without Tony [Scott]?”. The ‘Top Gun’ actor then replied that “the guy who did ‘Oblivion’ actually came up with this story.” 

Tarantino recounted the rest of the conversation, “He goes, ‘He came up with a really great story. He came up with a great story that really worked that I really enjoy taking the character further in that way.’ And it was the script. He goes, ‘The answer to your question is the script. They came up with a really good idea.’” 

QT feels the need…the need for speed 

Tarantino’s ties to ‘Top Gun’ actually go back to his cameo in Rory Kelly’s 1994 romantic comedy, ‘Sleep With Me’. The director appears as a film buff who corners one of the characters and has a bizarre conversation. 

Tarantino’s character, Sid, says “You want subversion on a massive level. You know what one of the greatest f**king scripts ever written in the history of Hollywood is? ‘Top Gun’.” 

His emphatic deconstruction of the movie includes his declaration, “It is a story about a man’s struggle with his own homosexuality. It is! That is what ‘Top Gun’ is about, man”. 

His character continues to elaborate, “You’ve got Maverick, all right? He’s on the edge, man. He’s right on the fucking line, all right? And you’ve got Iceman, and all his crew. They’re gay, they represent the gay man, all right? And they’re saying, go, go the gay way, go the gay way. He could go both ways”. 

The individual hearing Sid out, then asks “What about Kelly McGillis?”. This refers to the actor who plays Maverick’s love interest in the film. Tarantino’s character gets all the more inspired and continues, “Kelly McGillis, she’s heterosexuality. She’s saying: no, no, no, no, no, no, go the normal way, play by the rules, go the normal way. They’re saying no, go the gay way, be the gay way, go for the gay way, all right?” 

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The director concludes his analysis, saying that Maverick and Iceman’s exchange at the end, about being each other’s wingmen is Cruise’s character embracing his homosexuality

As an aside, Tarantino’s cameos are known for their outlandish opinions, as evidenced in his first film ‘Reservoir Dogs‘, where the director appears as Mr Brown, and the opening dialogue is a discussion of Madonna’s ‘Like a Virgin’. Tarantino’s character interprets it as the words of a promiscuous woman whose recent painful sexual experience reminds her of losing her virginity – justifying the title. Madonna herself dismissed this take, saying in a Rolling Stone interview, “I was singing about how something made me feel a certain way – brand-new and fresh – and everyone else interpreted it as, ‘I don’t want to be a virgin anymore. F*ck my brains out!’ That’s not what I sang at all.” 

Always a compliment, producer Jerry Bruckheimer says 

Tarantino’s monologue aside, the movie does have some homoerotic tones like the oiled up beach volleyball game where Maverick and Iceman, the latter played by Val Kilmer, face off. 

Jerry Bruckheimer, who produced the original and also is also producing the sequel, weighed in on the surprising gay legacy of ‘Top Gun’. 

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He said, “When you make a movie, people can interpret it in any way they want and see something in it that the filmmakers had no idea they were tapping”, adding, “So we’re surprised every time we hear something talked about, or written about, the films that we make that have no real context for the filmmakers or what the filmmakers wanted to do. And yet there’s a relevance to them, because people believe it.” 

However, there was no doubt that Bruckheimer viewed Tarantino’s monologue as a good thing. 

Now 78, the producer noted, “[Director] Tony [Scott] and Quentin were very good friends. In fact, Quentin came in and helped Tony and myself on ‘Crimson Tide.’ He came in and wrote a couple of scenes for us. So there was a great camaraderie and respect between Quentin and Tony. Coming from Quentin, it’s always a compliment.”