The filming of one of the scenes of “Top Gun: Maverick” with Ed Harris did not go as planned, causing damage on the set. But, magic of cinema, the images are all the more impressive.
When Ed Harris holds the shock
In Top Gun: Maverick, the elite pilot embodied by Tom Cruise exercises his talents on several military aircraft. The F/A-18 Super Hornet of course, the F-14 Tomcat, its own P-51 Mustang, but also a fictional plane, the famous “Darkstar” with which Maverick makes a test flight in the introduction of the film. His goal is to reach Mach 10 (10 times the speed of sound) with this machine, in order to prove that “human” flight is always superior to drone technology.
While Rear Admiral Cain, played by Ed Harris, arrives at the base to cancel this flight and interrupt the research program, Maverick decides to ignore it and literally takes off above him. And the breath is such that he partially destroyed the roof of the guardhouse next to which stands Ed Harris, who barely moves. (From 2’03 in the trailer below).
Originally, it was not intended that the blast would cause damage and lift the roof of the guardhouse. But this bad estimate of the pressure wave finally gave this perfect result, to make this “ground” shot, one of the most impressive of Top Gun: Maverick. Ed Harris told it to USA Today.
Ed Harris: ‘It blew the roof off the guardhouse’
In an interview given to the American media, the actor of The stuff of heroes, Rock and so Top Gun: Maverick confided in the filming of this scene. For a result that was not at all expected.
It blew off the roof of the guardhouse. It was a fun scene with the jet roaring right over my head. I thought about anchoring myself well to the ground knowing what to expect. It’s very impressive to see the jet come from so far away and pass right over your head. (…)
For the purposes of the sequence and its angle of view, a guardhouse has been specially built very close to the runway at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California. As the “Darkstar” is a fictional aircraft, based on the SR-72 project, future successor to the “Blackbird”, it is a F-18 which was used to make this sequence, then “disguised” in post-production to look like the “Darkstar”. It was flown by a pilot from the Blue Angels, the US Navy’s aerobatic patrol.
It was cool. These guys are professional pilots. I knew they weren’t going to bump into me or touch anything else.
You actually had to trust the pilot, who flies only a few meters above the ground. And as the director Joseph Kosinski pointed out again in an interview with New York Times : “the plateau was destroyed by the pressure wave. And it is Ed Harris who takes this pressure head-on. He’s not a stuntman“. Tom Cruise therefore seems to have made followers of its realistic and authentic working methods !