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Top Gun: Maverick Director Names The Toughest Scene (& It's Not What We Expected)

When "Top Gun: Maverick" made its way to cinemas in the Summer of 2022, nobody really knew what to expect. The film was, of course, a sequel more than three decades in the making, and prior to its release had already endured a handful of pandemic-related delays. It did, however, front Hollywood's last great action star Tom Cruise. And as far as legacy sequels go, you could obviously do a lot worse than tapping into the generation-defining blockbuster energy of Cruise's 1986 hit "Top Gun."

When "Maverick" finally did hit the multiplex, it was bursting at the seams with energy. But the film proved more than just a tower-buzzing nostalgia trip, with Cruise and company building welcome and wholly unexpected layers of depth and pathos into their high-flying adventure flick. Like its beloved predecessor, "Maverick" has also earned renown for its technical ingenuity, with Cruise and director Joseph Kosinski pushing cast and crew to the limit and beyond in making the film's extensive aerial action as realistic as possible.

That approach paid off, as the film delivers a sweaty-palmed onslaught of flight sequences the likes of which moviegoers had literally never seen before. But according to Kosinski, one unexpected scene proved harder to shoot than any of the film's aerial action.

Kosinski says shooting on the water proved far trickier than shooting in the sky

The "Top Gun: Maverick" helmer made this surprising admission during a recent interview with Vulture. According to Joseph Kosinski, despite the technical acumen and logistical planning involved in the film's aerial action, the toughest scene to shoot was the one set on the high seas; as Kosinski claimed, "I mean, the hardest one, which is one that you wouldn't think, was actually the sailing sequence."

He went on to admit that the scene — which finds Tom Cruise's titular flyboy hitting the ocean with his old flame Penny Benjamin (Jennifer Connelly) at the helm — proved exceedingly complicated because the crew actually had less control on the water than they did in the air. Kosinski said, "I had to shoot that scene three times in three different places before we got it," and noted that the problem was there never seemed to be enough wind to ensure the scene brought the requisite thrills.

Seems the wind in the sails was only part of the equation. "So what you're seeing is Tom and Jennifer Connelly on a very, very fast carbon-fiber racing boat doing 20, 22 knots," Kosinski shared, adding that a crew of experienced sailors were also aboard in case something happened the stars couldn't handle. 

Meanwhile, he and cinematographer Claudio Miranda faced their own issues shooting from a Technocrane-equipped boat nearby, with Kosinski quipping, "I'm literally holding on to Claudio's chair for dear life, trying to look at the monitor, and he's operating the camera." And that should give fans an even greater appreciation for what the film's cast and crew endured in making "Top Gun: Maverick" a thrill ride at every conceivable turn.