Jon Hamm on Top Gun: Maverick: ‘It was the easiest yes I’ve ever had in my career’

Ahead of Top Gun: Maverick’s cinema release, we chatted to some of the cast about the long-awaited sequel. First up, Jon Hamm!

Top Gun Maverick Jon Hamm

Ahead of Top Gun: Maverick’s cinema release, we chatted to some of the cast about the long-awaited sequel. First up, Jon Hamm!

Jon Hamm, perhaps best known as Mad Men’s Don Draper, stars in  Top Gun: Maverick as Cyclone, the film’s villain – oops, antagonist, as he prefers! – and tells us if he thinks Draper would make a good advert for Top Gun. 

First of all, congratulations on the film. I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun watching a film.

I’m glad to hear that, because that’s why we made this movie, for you to have fun. Only you!

Really appreciate it! You play a character that isn’t the biggest fan of Tom Cruise’s Maverick, it must have been kind of fun to tell him off?

It’s very much fun. To be able to share scenes and a screen with Tom Cruise, is a pretty awesome experience. And I don’t take it very lightly. I’m very honoured to be a part of this. And I was very happy to play my part.

The boys next door were going on about how cool Tom Cruise is. Did you know him before this?

I’ve met him socially on a few occasions. He is as advertised. He is a movie star with a capital M and a capital S. It’s not a mistake that his charisma is as enduring as it is, he’s been at the top of the game for four decades. It’s a pretty impressive run. Very good career.

You’ve had a great career. On set, with other actors, do you trade tips? Is there learning from each other?

I think the day you stop listening and learning is the day you stop living, really. I take everything as a learning experience. And this was no exception. To be able to be in this film and learn about filmmaking from someone who genuinely appreciates the art of filmmaking, you can tell it, his enthusiasm is infectious. And so that inundates every frame of this movie. It bleeds on to the cast, the crew, everybody knows they’re making a Tom Cruise movie, and everybody’s very excited to do it. Especially this one.

Top Gun Cast

Well, yeah, it’s Top Gun. It’s iconic. Was it an automatic yes when the call came in?

Yes, it was a no brainer. It was the easiest yes I’ve ever had in my career. I flashed back to being 15 years old, and going to the movie theatre and seeing that movie and thinking that there’s no way I’ll be in a sequel to this movie. There’s no way I’ll work with Tom Cruise. And then here we are, 36 years later.

It’s incredible. The mission in the film doesn’t happen until quite late in the film, so there isn’t a villain, so to speak. But do you think your character is kind of a villain? Or is he just the voice of reason?

I prefer the term antagonist. And the voice of reason is very nice. Someone has to establish the rules and the regulations and enforce those. And I think part of that is what the story is, that these guys in the Navy and all of the service members who worked so hard and sacrificed so much to protect us and keep everybody safe. They don’t take their jobs lightly. When you’re dealing with lives, and millions of dollars of taxpayer funded equipment, they don’t take that responsibility lightly. And I think that my character represents dealing with that responsibility.

Absolutely. And were you jealous at all that you didn’t get to go up? You were happy to stay on the ground?

Very happy to keep my feet right on the ground. I salute the young men and women who got to do that. But I was very happy that I did not have to.

I can imagine. This is a little cheeky, but if Don Draper was tasked with doing an advert to Top Gun, would that advert look like?

I don’t know, the marketing team at Paramount has done a very nice job, I think. I don’t know if Don Draper could equal that task.

I think Don Draper would make great trailers.

Maybe, it’d be a little esoteric, but maybe.

Top Gun Tom Cruise (1)

What do you want people to take away from this film?

What we set out to make was a really entertaining movie that will get people back into movie theatres. We didn’t know that there would have been a two year hiatus from going to movie theatres when we made the film. But I think what we ended up making was a real welcome back to the movie theatres, the cinematic experience, that theatrical experience. It’s a thrill ride. It’s surprisingly an emotional film and I think people are really going to enjoy it. Absolutely.

And like you said, it’s an emotional film. I had loads of tears going on during it.

It really is. It’s surprising.

Did you have that when you read in the script?

Not so much when I read the script, but when I saw the first assemblage of the movie, I was moved. I was just genuinely moved. I was surprised. Part of it is waiting so long to see it, part of it is that it’s been 30 years since the first one, part of it is just seeing Maverick again. It’s a real welcome back to the cinema. It’s very much a visual high five, that’s all I can say.

Top Gun: Maverick is exclusively in cinemas May 25, in 4DX and IMAX

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