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“They Were Angry”: Iconic Top Gun Volleyball Scene Almost Got the Director Fired

When Top Gun came out on the big screen, it broke records worldwide. But no one really knew the amount of hard work, persistence, and hurdles that the director and his team had to go through to make the script a reality. Until now. The award-winning movie had in its hands the potential to become iconic and yet the team had to face impossible resistance in filming most of the scenes which are now considered iconic. Editors, Chris Lebenzon and Billy Weber sit for a chat in an episode of The Hollywood Reporter’s Behind The Scene podcast to recall the entire day of shooting and editing that went on in the background to create one of the most famous scenes of the movie.

Top Gun Volleyball
Tom Cruise in the Top Gun volleyball scene

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The Top Gun Volleyball Scene

In the original script, the volleyball script was barely more than a paragraph long. But, Tony Scott, the director spent an entire day and the resources of the crew to shoot the scene. The scene which has now become one of the most recognized moments in the film was at the time almost on the verge of getting Scott fired over.

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Tony-Scott
Tony Scott

Billy Weber reveals, “The studio was so pissed off. The head of the production, Charlie McGuire, said, ‘I’m gonna fire him’ … because he spent a whole day shooting this scene.” Chris Lebenzon added, “That scene was scripted as a real game, they kept score and everything — and Tony shot it like a commercial, and they were angry.”

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The Iconicity of The Beach Volleyball Scene

Weber recollects in a nostalgic memory the day the crew spent shooting the beach volleyball scene. The boys had gone shirtless and slathered in oil (well, all except for Goose) and for reason not entirely explicable, the scene was just randomly placed in the movie. Maverick and Goose had teamed up against Iceman and Slider and the sequence played out with Kenny Loggins’ “Playing With The Boys” blasting in the background.

Rick Rossovich
Rick Rossovich (Slider) on the volleyball scene in Top Gun

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Tony Scott had later commented that he put the scene in the movie for exactly what it was meant to be, i.e. eye candy. At the time of Reagan’s conservative America, the beach volleyball scene became somewhat iconic for the gay community and as the years rolled on, it took on a life of its own.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

Written by Diya Majumdar