'Top Gun' star Tom Skerritt explains why the original movie was iconic, details filming with Tom Cruise

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“Top Gun” star Tom Skerritt is sharing his thoughts on the movie’s sequel and reflecting on the original 1986 film.

Skerritt, who starred as Commander Mike “Viper” Metcalf in the original, opened up about what made “Top Gun” iconic during a recent interview with Fox News Digital.

“The music had a lot to do with it by the way,” he said. “But the screenplay itself, which I’ve always honored as being the whole reason for a good show, and you just write the work… and do the job you have good material for the rest of us to work with. And I really believed in that screenplay. “

Skerritt starred in the film alongside a young Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer and others such as Kelly McGillis.

Tom Skerritt starred in the original "Top Gun" as Cdr.  Mike "Viper" Metcalf.

Tom Skerritt starred in the original “Top Gun” as Cdr. Mike “Viper” Metcalf.
(Photo by CBS)

Tom Cruise as Lt.  Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, Anthony Edwards as Lt.  Nick "Goose" Bradshaw, Michael Ironside as Lt.  Cdr.  Dick "Jester" Wetherly and Tom Skerritt as Cdr.  Mike "Viper" Metcalf in the film "Top Gun."

Tom Cruise as Lt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, Anthony Edwards as Lt. Nick “Goose” Bradshaw, Michael Ironside as Lt. Cdr. Dick “Jester” Wetherly and Tom Skerritt as Cdr. Mike “Viper” Metcalf in the movie “Top Gun.”
(Photo by CBS)

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“Everybody was having a good time on this. We all knew, or maybe I just sensed it, that this was going to be a very successful film.”

As for working with the 25-year-old Cruise, Skerritt told Fox News Digital that he met the actor while still in talks with Tony Scott, the director, and the producers.

“He was clearly a nice young man, 25, aware that he was going to rise with this film. He didn’t say that, but I assumed that by discussion we had. He knew he was going to rise with” Top Gun. “

“Everybody was having a good time on this. We all knew, or maybe I just sensed it, that this was going to be a very successful film.”

– Tom Skerritt on filming 1986’s ‘Top Gun’

When it comes to the sequel, “Top Gun: Maverick,” Skerritt explained to Fox News Digital: “I think it’s going to be a lot of aeronautical engineering on display, a lot of going shooting straight up into the sky and going as high as you can go. “

“I think we’re going to just watch some guys do some crazy flying, and… they’re going to have a lot of fun, but it’s not going to have the storyline the original had. You can’t revive something that’s already been done. “

The film was released in theaters on May 27 after a two-year delay due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Skerritt weighed in on "Top Gun: Maverick" during an interview with Fox News Digital.

Skerritt weighed in on “Top Gun: Maverick” during an interview with Fox News Digital.
(Photo by Mat Hayward)

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Before starring in the ’80s action-drama film, Skerritt spent time in the United States Air Force. The actor admitted he joined the United States Air Force with the intention of learning to fly a plane, but didn’t ever get to.

“Military’s military, whatever the service you’re in,” he told Fox News Digital. “One is a little rougher than others. That would be the Marines. But I never got to fly, which was something I thought would be a dream for me to do. I had an older brother who was a P-51 pilot in World War II, and I loved him and I loved him for what he did. “

“He was clearly a nice young man, 25, aware that he was going to rise with this film.”

– Tom Skerritt on Tom Cruise

“At 17, I enlisted right out of high school,” he continued. “I thought maybe I can sneak in and become a pilot, which was not possible. I had no math skills whatsoever, and I had a good four years of learning how to behave myself.”

As Memorial Day quickly approaches, the actor-turned-producer explained what the day means to him.

Memorial Day means a lot to Skerritt, who served in the military himself and runs a program for veterans.

Memorial Day means a lot to Skerritt, who served in the military himself and runs a program for veterans.
(Photo by George Pimentel / WireImage)

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“It’s quite a bit because I have my own experience in the military,” Skerritt said. “I had my brother in the military.”

Skerritt also co-founded the Red Badge Project alongside former Army Captain Evan Bailey in 2012. The program helps veterans “discover greater self-acceptance and efficacy as they find their voice, and produce stories inspired by their life experiences,” according to the Red Badge Project’s website.

Skerritt further explained: “I also have a school here called Red Badge where we teach post-traumatic stress vets how to tell a story because there wonderful therapy about being able to write a story, whether it’s true or whether it’s recovering from some very bad moments that they had. And that’s what the day is for me. “

Fox News’ Larry Fink contributed to this report.

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