Top Gun’s volleyball scene nearly got the director fired

The 1986 film Top Gun is considered one of the best action movies of all time and has tons of memorable scenes. One sequence is particularly famous, however: the iconic and oiled-up volleyball match between the handsome pilots. But it was that iconic moment in the film that seemingly nearly cost Top Gun director Tony Scott his job.

For those who don’t remember the movie from the 80’s, there is a scene in the movie where we see the characters of Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer compete in a long volleyball scene. Kenny Loggins’ “Playing With The Boys” plays in the background as the two (shirtless) smack the ball at each other.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Top Gun editors Chris Lebenzon and Billy Weber revealed that the studio wasn’t very happy with Scott’s decision to capture what appeared to be a commercial moment. “This scene was written as a real game,” explained Lebenzon. “Remember, they made points and everything and Tony shot it like a commercial and they were angry.”

“The studio was so pissed off,” Weber continued. “The production manager, Charlie McGuire. He said, ‘I’m going to fire him.’ I mean Tony because he spent a whole day filming this scene. And then of course it turns out to be one of the most iconic scenes in the movie.”

Lebenzon then explained how the volleyball scene worked in post-production and how it proved to be a new experience in his career. “We didn’t expect that,” he said. “And it was interesting to work on. I had never done a commercial or music video before. And that was Tony’s forte.”

Luckily, Scott wasn’t fired and the beach volleyball scene wasn’t cut. As we’ve mentioned multiple times above, the sequence has become iconic. A tribute was even created for it in the recently released sequel Top Gun: Maverick, where Tom Cruise organizes a dogfight soccer game.

Considering the box office success of Top Gun: Maverick and Top Gun, it’s safe to say that a sweaty sports moment is never to be underestimated – Hollywood studios beware! Top Gun’s volleyball scene nearly got the director fired

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