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Jonathan Majors Discusses The Real-Life Flying He Did For Devotion - Exclusive

In the new movie "Devotion," Jonathan Majors and Glen Powell play real-life Navy pilots Jesse L. Brown and Tom Hudner, who flew missions as part of Fighter Squadron 32 to protect U.N. and U.S. troops during the Korean War. After Brown battled back against racism in his quest to enter the Naval Aviation School and complete his training, he eventually became the first Black pilot in Navy history and earned the respect of his fellow pilots as well as the lifelong friendship of Hudner.

Directed by J.D. Dillard, "Devotion" takes great pains to recreate the period and circumstances (circa 1950) in which Brown and Hudner flew, right down to locating five actual F4U Corsairs — the kind of plane that Brown and Hudner piloted — in addition to MiGs, Bearcats, and Sikorsky helicopters from the same era.

Dillard and his team also utilized the services of aerial cinematographer Michael FitzMaurice and aerial coordinator Kevin LaRosa Jr. to help create the flying sequences in "Devotion," fresh off their mind-blowing work on the aerial action in "Top Gun: Maverick." The goal was to do as much of the flying as possible practically — which included putting actors Majors, Powell, and others into the planes and into the sky behind experienced pilots.

For Majors, it was his first time flying in any aircraft that did not offer refreshments or flash a "fasten seatbelts" sign above his seat. He told Looper about the "bucket list-level" experience in an exclusive interview.

Jesse Brown inspired Jonathan Majors to stay in the air

Glen Powell, a pilot himself, already had familiarity with flying in fighters thanks to his own role as Hangman in "Top Gun: Maverick." But for Jonathan Majors, it was his first time in a fighter plane doing incredibly complex maneuvers, so naturally, he turned to Powell for some advice on how to handle it.

"Glen is a pilot, so I don't know if he could go back to learning it. He is one of my best buddies, and he was very gracious in giving me some tips," Majors said. "I handled it okay — a lot of it was because of Jesse. What is the impact of Jesse Brown? Playing him gave me so much drive and so much gusto. We were up in the plane, [and] there were times where I'm sweating bullets, my lunch is in my throat, and the operator asked me, 'Do you want to go down?' I said, 'No, I do not want to go down.' Jesse wouldn't, so I wouldn't."

Majors added that doing as much of the real flying as they could not only added to the realism of the shoot for the actors but also was a rare experience that contributed to the power of "Devotion" itself.

"It was a lot of fun flying those old warbirds and doing those maneuvers," he told Looper. "Very few people can say they've done them. Glen, myself, and a few others actually got to do it. That was a gift. That's super cool, bucket list-level. Then you add to that the dangers of combat and dogfighting and all of that. You get one hell of an experience and get one hell of a film."

"Devotion" is out now in theaters.