Formula 1 superstar Lewis Hamilton has piloted race cars to seven world championships, but had to decline the opportunity to jump in the cockpit of a fighter jet for a role in Top Gun: Maverick, he tells Vanity Fair in a new interview.
A fan of the original Top Gun, and a friend of Tom Cruise, Hamilton said, “When I heard the second one was coming out, I was like, ‘Oh, my God, I have to ask him’.” He told Cruise, “I don’t care what role it is. I’ll even sweep something, be a cleaner in the back.”
Evidently, Maverick himself agreed and Hamilton was to be one of the pilots. But filming would have clashed with the climax of the F1 season, and being a “perfectionist” who wouldn’t have been able to split his time, Hamilton had to turn down the role. Telling Cruise and TGM director Joseph Kosinski was “the most upsetting call that I think I’ve ever had,” he recounts in the VF article.
Hamilton will have his chance to work with Kosinski: he’s one of the producers on the director’s untitled Formula 1 movie starring Brad Pitt which landed at Apple earlier this year. Pitt will play a driver who comes out of retirement to compete alongside a rookie against the titans of his sport.
Hamilton told VF he has met with Pitt and arranged for him to tour the UK factories where this year’s Formula 1 car for Mercedes is being crafted. The driver has also been vetting the script “because the Americans that are writing it are just getting newly accustomed to Formula 1.”
Hamilton and Cruise are good pals. In July, Cruise spent his 60th birthday at the British Formula 1 Grand Prix, where he was supporting Hamilton. “He’s a great friend of mine. I hope he has a great day,” Cruise told Sky Sports on the starting grid.
The driver returned the sentiment, telling VF that Cruise is “one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.”
Meanwhile, the hypersonic Top Gun: Maverick continues to defy gravity, crossing $1.35B at the global box office this past Sunday.