The 1986 movie Top Gun has gone down as one of the best action movies of all time, and has tons of memorable scenes. However, one sequence is especially famous: the iconic and oiled up volleyball game between the hunky pilots. But it was this iconic moment in the film that apparently almost cost the Top Gun director, Tony Scott, his job.
For those who don’t remember the ’80s movie, in the flick, there is a scene where we see Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer’s characters face off against one another in a lengthy volleyball scene. While the two (shirtless) whack the ball to one another, Kenny Loggins’ ‘Playing With The Boys’ blasts in the background.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Top Gun editors Chris Lebenzon and Billy Weber revealed that the studio wasn’t too pleased with Scott’s choice to include the moment that apparently looked like a commercial. “That scene was scripted as a real game,” Lebenzon explained. “Remember they kept score and everything, and Tony shot it like a commercial, and they were angry.”
“The studio was so pissed off,” Weber continued. “The head of production, Charlie McGuire. He said, ‘I’m gonna fire him.’ Meaning Tony, because he spent a whole day shooting this scene. And then, of course, it turns out it’s one of the most famous scenes in the movie.”
Lebenzon then went on to explain what the volleyball scene was like to work with in the post-production phase, and how it proved to be a new experience in his career. “We didn’t expect it,” he said. “And it was interesting to edit. I had never done a commercial before, or a music video. And that was Tony’s forte.”
Thankfully Scott wasn’t fired, and the beach volleyball scene wasn’t cut. As we have mentioned multiple times above, the sequence has become iconic. A homage was even created for it in the recently released sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, where Tom Cruise organises a game of dogfight football.
Considering Top Gun: Maverick and Top Gun’s box office success, it is safe to say, that you can never underestimate a sweaty sports moment – Hollywood studios take note!