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Top Gun’s Miles Teller on Fantastic 4, flight training, and Tom Cruise

Top Gun: Maverick, the highly-anticipated sequel to Top Gun, stars Miles Teller as Goose's son Rooster — here's our full interview with him

From the teen movie franchise Divergent to Marvel movies like the Fantastic Four, Miles Teller has had his fair share of action movie roles throughout his career so far. Yet, his role as Rooster in Top Gun: Maverick saw him take that experience to new heights (pun intended) as he not only had to deliver on the legacy that comes from playing the son of Goose, but also performing a lot of his own stunts in the movie.

One way that Top Gun 2 is unique compared to other modern thriller movies is that there is not a green screen in sight, meaning that all the high-stakes aircraft scenes you see were filmed right there, up in the air, with maximum speed and altitude building the pressure and ensuring that these actors, quite literally, put on the performance of their life.

Continuing 36 years after the first movie, Top Gun: Maverick sees Tom Cruise return as Maverick as he is tasked with teaching a new group of Top Gun graduates about how to tackle the most high stakes, intense mission in the task force’s history. Among these new recruits is Rooster, the son of Goose who has an axe to grind with Maverick as the pair must work together not just on their mission, but on how to tackle the demons from their pasts. 

The Digital Fix: Walk me through the preparation you did for this role, and which was more intense: the naval training or Tom Cruise boot camp?

Miles Teller: For the training for the film, Tom [Cruise] developed a kind of a flight programme for us. I think we were  flying for about four months before we even started filming, kind of working our way up in difficulty, and kind of trying to get our G-tolerance up.

Because we knew that eventually we’re going to be in these F8 teams with these pilots pulling seven and a half G’s. So we’re flying almost every day, certainly weekly, multiple times for almost a year. So that was really tough.

But honestly, keeping up with Tom and keeping up with the Navy, and these jets, they kind of go part and parcel because, I mean, we’re going up with these guys every day. So I think they’re equally as challenging.

TDF: How did you balance paying homage to the past while ensuring that the character you were playing and the story you were telling was your own?

MT: I was really happy that nobody asked me to play Goose, to kind of try and remake that character — I think that would have been a very tall task to do. With the look of Rooster, that was certainly an area where we felt like we could really pay homage.

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I think it’s important that when Rooster walks on screen, right in the beginning at the bar, from just the way he’s dressed and how he looks, you know, for a fact, that’s Goose’s kid. But he’s dealing with a lot of different things than Goose had to deal with. So I felt like I was able to kind of take ownership of that. 

Miles Teller in Top Gun 2

TDF: What was the biggest/most ambitious stunt you filmed?

MT: There’s a scene in the third act of the movie where we are 100 feet above the water going 480 knots into a canyon. And the canyon walls are less than 100 feet off each way. That was pretty tough.

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TDF: With Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange 2 opening up the multiverse, a lot of stars from other Marvel movies outside the MCU have been reprising their roles on the big screen. So, would you be open to reprising your role as Reed Richards if the opportunity came up?

MT: The thing that I look at for pretty much every project is scripts. That’s first and foremost. The character, the director, the cast, the cinematographer: all of those things, I think, go into making a decision. So, if I thought all those things were in place, and we had a really good chance to succeed, then yeah, I wouldn’t have a problem with it.

TDF: If there was Top Gun 3, where would you like to see your character go next?

I think it would be nice to see him married and with a kid, because that’s the point where you’re introduced to Rooster in the first one. So, I would really like to see that kind of evolution of just settling down.

Miles Teller in Top Gun 2

TDF: Did you get any specific advice from Tom Cruise about entering such an iconic franchise that stuck with you?

MT:  Before I signed on to this, Tom really did kind of let me know what I would be getting into. I had never been a part of anything like this in any way. This is a really massive film. You know, it’s got incredible fans. And I mean, it’s the movie that really made Tom one of the biggest stars in the world.

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So he did [give advice] and we had that conversation before I signed on. I’m really glad that I said yes to this. And then I was able to do the movie with him.

TDF: I read somewhere that you made up your own call sign for Rooster. I was wondering if you’d be able to tell me the story behind that?

Well, in the original script, the character had a different callsign and I thought it didn’t really fit all that well, to be honest with you. But the word Rooster, I thought it was, again, paying a bit of an homage to Goose, and, yeah I just liked it because it was a little more ambiguous than the original one.

Top Gun: Maverick makes its heroic landing in theatres on May 27, 2022.