What are your memories of filming?
We hung out with the pilots and we were encouraged to behave like that. We pulled pranks on each other the whole shoot, but we had a deal that if one of us was going to go to Mexico, all of us had to go. Val Kilmer had his van from his 16th birthday there, so we’d all load up in Val’s van, go wreak havoc on Mexico and then come back to work the next morning. That was a time that was carefree.
And Kelly McGillis hung out with us too, you know. She lived with me for two years after that was over, so I had the unique situation of having McGillis with me. And we all hung out together, and she was definitely a part of that group.
Making It Real
Why is it so enduring ?
For me it’s because it was the last movie that didn’t rely on CGI for the effects. Very few effects were used. We were actually in the planes. We didn’t fly them, but we were in the back seats. What you see happen didn’t happen on the computer.
I know that the Navy’s enrolment went up the week the movie opened. I think it was the best recruiting film ever for the Navy. There were a few copycats afterwards. People tried their hardest to make the next Top Gun , but it just didn’t happen.
How was it to work with Tom?
Cruise is a bit of a method actor, so he was kind of alone for a lot of time. He wasn’t really as part of the group as we were, but it worked for his character. I’m happy to have been in a Cruise movie. I haven’t seen him since, but he’s definitely made quite a career.
Were you aware of a homoerotic subtext at the time?
It is what it is – a bunch of guys competing with their shirts off. It can be whatever anybody wants it to be! You can interpret it however you want it. We were around the actual pilots a lot and when you have that much testosterone in a room, there’s going to be some flexing!
Do you think Top Gun will get a remake?
It wouldn’t surprise me one bit. I’m sure somebody, somewhere is talking about remaking it with a new set of pilots.
What are you doing now?
I live in Texas. I have land, a canoe on my creek and with overnight mail I get to live remotely and go outside every day and do something. I’ve got a couple of films coming out. One’s called Clown Hunt – it’s basically Jackass with a story. One called Javelina and another, The Dream . It’s like The Manchurian Candidate meets The Ring . It’s a very scary psychological thriller.
My other passion is that I’ve started NonViolent.Net. I’ve gone around the world taking pictures of people and I want people to post their own of them giving the NV symbol, which I want to become the new peace sign for people who want to proclaim they’re non-violent. I'm a big believer in non-violent society. We’ve gotten to a point where we have to think before we act. Maybe there's a solution other than violence.
What’s your favourite '80s movie?
I would say The Verdict . The story was great. I miss filmmakers that are allowed to give their signature. In Hollywood there are so many ladles in the pot. Sometimes there’s 10 writers per movie, 18 producers. Too many chiefs, not enough Indians, as we say in Texas. Tarantino’s the only one that has that now. I miss that about the movies of the '80s
For more '80s goodness check out the latest issue of Total Film , on sale 28 October.