Top Gun star Tom Cruise hasn’t starred in a film that could primarily be considered a drama movie for at least 15 years, maybe more, as he has now entirely segued into the action genre. It is easy now to forget that he has been nominated for three Oscars. However, there was a time during the late 1980s and 1990s when Cruise wanted to be taken seriously as a dramatic actor.
Cruise made dramas The Color of Money, Rain Man and Born on the Fourth of July during the 1980s, the last of which earned him his first Oscar nomination. In the 1989 film, Cruise plays real life Vietnam war veteran Ron Kovic, who was injured during the war and has used a wheelchair since then. It is an anti-war film, which came just a few years after Cruise made Top Gun, which some viewed as a “navy recruitment advert.”
In a 1990 Playboy interview (of all things) about Born on the Fourth of July, the interviewer (via Variety) calls Top Gun a “Nintendo game and a paean to blind patriotism” – which it’s difficult to imagine anyone interviewing a major Hollywood star saying now.
Cruise responded by saying; “Some people felt that Top Gun was a right-wing film to promote the Navy. And a lot of kids loved it. But I want the kids to know that that’s not the way war is — that Top Gun was just an amusement park ride, a fun film with a PG-13 rating that was not supposed to be reality. That’s why I didn’t go on and make Top Gun II and III and IV and V. That would have been irresponsible.”
Comparing Top Gun to Born on the Fourth of July, Cruise said; “They are two different things. Top Gun is a joy ride and shouldn’t be looked at beyond that. Born is about real people and real events. Top Gun should be looked at as going on Space Mountain — it’s like a simple fairy tale. Let’s look at the reality of what I am saying — where my beliefs lie. I didn’t have anything riding on Top Gun. The fact is, I really want people to see Born on the Fourth of July— it’s a movie that had to be made.”
If this has left you pining for the good old days, check out our guide the best 80s movies.