Tom Cruise didn't want to make the Top Gun sequel.
The Hollywood megastar was completely immersed in the Mission Impossible franchise and the idea of revisiting his hotshot fighter pilot from 1986 wasn't on the cards.
So how was Cruise convinced to take off in the exceptionally well-reviewed Top Gun: Maverick? It took 30 minutes and one hell of a pitch, according to director Joe Kosinski.
"[Executive producer] Jerry Bruckheimer sent me an early draft of the script about five years ago," Kosinski told news.com.au. "After I read it, I had some ideas and thoughts and Jerry said it would be best if I presented to Tom directly.
"I later found out Tom didn't really want to do the movie. So, Jerry and I flew to Paris where Tom was shooting Mission Impossible, and between set-ups, I had about a half-hour of his time to pitch him the idea of the film.
"After I finished the presentation, Tom picked up the phone and called the head of [Paramount Pictures] and said 'We're making this film', which is amazing to see."
For adrenaline junkie Cruise, the winning idea in Kosinski's pitch was the director wanted to shoot all the aerial sequences in the air.
"Tom said from the very beginning of this movie that making it was hitting a bullet with a bullet, in that it was going to be very difficult to capture all these aerial sequences practically, which is what I was proposing, and he was right.
"It was a real challenge to figure out how to do because you can't just fake what we were trying to get. You can't just capture that on a stage or with a green screen. It was a lot of work but I'm glad we did, and hopefully audiences will agree."
Just how much work? A lot of laborious, time-consuming and physically and mentally taxing work.
Kosinski had seen footage on YouTube of Go-Pro cameras stationed inside navy pilots' cockpits and he found them to be more compelling than any aerial sequence created for a movie. But a GoPro can only capture one small angle, it wasn't exactly cinematic.
For 15 months, Kosinski and Top Gun: Maverick's cinematographer Claudio Miranda worked with the US Navy on how to get six tiny Sony prototype cameras into a F-18 cockpit in a way that wouldn't interfere with the safe operation of the plane.
"It couldn't interfere with ejection if that had to happen, and it had to withstand the forces, the altitude and the speed of the planes. It was about a 15-month process to get to that point and once we had the cameras in there, we sent Tom up on a test flight and when we saw the footage, we were like, 'wow, this is going to work'."
Getting the cameras mounted inside the high-speed machines was only half the battle. To capture the full weight and stakes of the film's stunts meant the actors had to experience what their characters were going through – the gravitational forces of 965km per hour.
In the original Top Gun, the production couldn't fulfil that ambition. Bruckheimer told news.com.au, "In the first movie, unfortunately, we hardly had any footage in the cockpit, everything was a gamble, the stuff we could use was the stuff Tom did.
"Every other actor was throwing up, their eyes were rolling back."
This time, Bruckheimer revealed, the actors, including a new class of young pilots played by Miles Teller, Glen Powell, Monica Barbaro, Danny Ramirez, Jay Ellis and Lewis Pullman, all had to front up and fly up.
"What you saw was real," the legendary producer explained. "It was the actors who were feeling the G-Forces. We had to build up their tolerance and that's why it took three months. They started in a prop plane, then it was an aerobatic prop, then it was a jet and then finally an F-18.
"It was really stressful. When they came down, they were soaking wet. Every time they went up, they had to turn the cameras on, remember where the light was, then act [their scenes], turn the cameras off and then come back down.
"We couldn't see what they were doing up there, we could only hear it. Once we looked at the footage, if it wasn't right, we sent them right back up again."
Kosinski said Cruise personally designed the months-long training programme for the younger actors, some of whom at the start were scared of flying and now can withstand the physical challenges of zooming around in a F-18, but also act while doing it.
The test flights Cruise did helped the director, who had worked with Cruise on Oblivion, bed down technical factors such as lens, camera placement, eyelines and even visor tints.
And having Cruise do everything first was a real boon for his fellow thespians.
"Tom wouldn't have any actor do anything he hadn't done first," Kosinski said. "So, those test flights were not only a learning process for us in capturing how to shoot the movie I think it was, for the young actors, seeing that it could be done and all the kinds of techniques they would have to employ to pull it off, like him.
"Tom had them prepped. Obviously it was still very difficult and some of them still got sick, but they were able to shoot all the scenes we needed to get."
That makes Top Gun: Maverick – a story about an older pilot readying the next generation for a risky mission – art imitating life.