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'Top Gun' still makes star's emotions soar

Published On: Feb 19 2013 07:34:42 AM CST
Updated On: Feb 21 2013 05:04:27 PM CST
Tom Skeritt Tom Cruise Top Gun Paramount

Paramount Home Entertainment

Tom Cruise in "Top Gun" (inset: Tom Skerritt in 1986 and today).

Acclaimed actor Tom Skerritt said he had no idea when he was making "Top Gun" in 1986 that the action adventure film would go on to become a classic -- but he certainly views it that way now.

"A classic to me is something you can view 20 or 30 years later and still have that same initial response to it," Skerritt told me in a recent interview. "Putting all of 'Top Gun' together, from the director to the script to the actors, it had everything. I know after 20 or 30 years, I still have that same response to it."

New on Blu-ray 3D on Tuesday (Paramount Home Entertainment), "Top Gun" stars Tom Cruise as a Maverick, a passionate, if not careless Naval pilot competing against colleagues in the elite Top Gun flight program. But Maverick's life becomes complicated when he becomes romantically involved with civilian flight instructor Charlie (Kelly McGillis), and a tragedy involving a friend and colleague which affects his ability to fly.

Skerritt stars as Viper, the chief instructor in the Top Gun program and former fighter pilot who tries to instill confidence back in Maverick after the tragedy.

The re-release of "Top Gun" is bittersweet for Skerritt and his fellow cast and crewmembers, since it comes in the aftermath of the death of director Tony Scott. The heralded filmmaker died Aug. 19, 2012, of an apparent suicide at age 68.

"I think we've lost a very significant artist," Skerritt said. "There aren't too many like him or his brother, Ridley, for that matter, who bring such magic to filmmaking -- and that's the way Tony did it on 'Top Gun.' Why he would do what he did so spontaneously is still a question mark."
Skerritt said by the film being available in the 3D format, it finally will be seen the way Scott originally intended.

"I think the re-release of the film pays wonderful homage to Tony, who painted a wonderful picture," Skerritt said. "There were always things going on in the background, and the richness of 3D and Blu-ray will give justice to what he did."

Skerritt, who first worked with Ridley Scott on the 1979 classic "Alien" before collaborating with Tony Scott on "Top Gun," is one of the few actors who can proudly claim to have worked under the direction of both brothers.

"Ridley and Tony were both graphic artists and painters," Skerritt observed. "They both had a vision that they could put on a canvas that was rich, and full of colors and action that they could put on film."

"Top Gun" was also special for Skerritt in that he had the opportunity of working with an actor like Cruise, whose career was about to be catapulted into superstardom because of the new, high-flying film.

Perhaps what impressed Skerritt the most about Cruise is the way the actor handled the success in such a defining moment in his career.

"I had a sense that Tom and other actors on the film were going to be pretty damn successful in the long run. There was no doubt about it," Skerritt said. "Not only was he pretty focused on the work, he was able to find the right people to take care of him -- the management, the attorneys, whatever it was, it was a big deal. When you put all of that together, you're going to do very well."

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