HOLLYWOOD -- It's a hopeful sign for the upcoming summer movie season. Paramount's "Top Gun: Maverick" scored the best Memorial Day opening of all time with a projected three-day domestic haul of more than $126 million.
The film sees Tom Cruise return to his iconic character of hot-shot Navy pilot "Maverick." This time around, he's brought back to teach a new batch of "top gunners," who've been recruited for an important top secret mission. Life imitated art... with the production, led by Cruise, taking the younger actors on real military flights so they could experience what actually happens in this high-octane world of Navy pilots.
Cruise's younger co-stars all appreciated what the veteran actor offered to teach them. "It's all new. This is all very, very new," said Jay Ellis.
"I thought it was going to be impossible. I was like, there's no way actually I can do this!" said Lewis Pullman. "But there's no way I'm going to admit that I can't do it. So I'm going to try my damnedest. And luckily for us, Tom gave us an incredible training regime that that made us capable of doing something that we all I think was impossible."
"It was very, very challenging. But you knew while you're in the air is tough, and when you land is like I have this great support system and my classmates and Tom and the Navy pilots," said Greg Tarzan Davis. "They're just like, okay, we can get through this and we're making this great film and you just keep going you know, there's no there's no turning back."
"We bonded over this thing where like, we really just, no one else in the world knew what we were going through the way we did with each other," said Monica Barbaro. "So at the end of a really rough day, we had that."
Actor Glen Powell joked about Tom Cruise's abilities on set.
"Just to be clear, my mom does not want me to become Tom Cruise. Because the way he raises the bar and kind of like cheats death at every corner," said Powell. "You know, I started riding motorcycles. I started jumping out of planes. We went skydiving, now I've got my pilot's license. I think I think my mom's like, okay, let's just chill out."
Not all of the actors were invited to the high-flying "G-force Top Gun" training. And some would question whether the experience was a "get to do it" or a "had to do it."
"Definitely a little jealousy. Because of the experience, they got to have the graduated aircraft, they got to experience they experienced G force and things that it's a once in a lifetime chance to do something like that. But at the same time, it was nice to just be on the ground," said Charles Parnell.
"And you're looking at the three smartest people in the movie because we didn't have to do any of that stuff. It was it was the best like we got to we got to watch it and not have to throw up!" said Jon Hamm.