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Where Was Top Gun: Maverick Actually Filmed?

Captain Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (Tom Cruise) enters the danger zone once again in "Top Gun: Maverick," the Academy Award-winning sequel (for best sound) to the hit 1986 film "Top Gun." This time around, Maverick finds himself teaching TOPGUN graduates as they prepare for a dangerous mission involving an unsanctioned uranium enrichment plant violating a NATO treaty. But while fans were eager to see fighter jets in the sky, it's the vast landscapes and the eye-catching bar that help tell the story — and finding the right locations required assistance from the U.S. Navy.

"We had to quickly formulate a plan to get our feet in the door in California," executive producer Tom Harper told The Hollywood Reporter. "But the one thing we all talked about in speaking to the Navy is that we had to figure out where the jets were ... You want to be where the jets are and manipulate the shoot and schedule accordingly. We were thankful that we could shoot the whole film all in California and a little bit in Nevada and Washington."

While they were scouting ground locations, they were also taking a look at the sky. Location manager Mike Fantasia explained that the Navy gave them geographic regions to choose from, and they ultimately chose to fly around Death Valley in California, Fallon, Nevada, and Whidbey Island in Washington State.

But there was one location that had to be re-created, and the reason is steeped in logistics.

It took a lot of hard work to make the bar scenes a reality

After he's assigned to teach the TOPGUN graduates, Maverick heads to North Island for a drink at the Hard Deck bar, where he runs into Penny Benjamin (Jennifer Connelly) and the TOPGUN graduates he'll be training. While it looks like the scene is filmed in a fully operational bar, it's all just movie magic. 

According to CBS 8 San Diego, the Hard Deck is based on the I-Bar, located on Naval Air Station North Island. The bar is a well-known gathering place for service members, but its size could not accommodate a movie crew, which is why it had to be replicated. "When you watch the movie, you're in the bar, you're in the Navy," said Captain Brian Ferguson, the Navy's technical advisor for the movie.

Director Joseph Kosinski told Vanity Fair that their bar set was built on the beach in Coronado, where North Island is located. The crew got a lot of the iconic elements of the I-Bar into their re-creation, like the planes on the ceiling and the bell that rings when someone puts their phone on the bar, meaning they have to buy everyone a round, a rule followed at the I-Bar. That's a rule that Kosinski broke while at an officers club in Fallon, Nevada. "It was a really fun night," he said. "And it showed me that I had to have an officers-club scene in the film."