Watch the Top Gun: Maverick Cast Pump Up Before That Beach Football Scene

One of the things that made Top Gun: Maverick such a crowd-pleasing success as a sequel was the way in which it indulged viewers in nostalgia for the original movie. And never was that more clear than in the scene where Tom Cruise’s Maverick gives a team-building assignment to the new generation of fighter pilots: a game of dogfight football, played shirtless on the beach in homage to the infamous Top Gun volleyball sequence.

“When anyone and everyone found out I was making this movie, they told me: ‘You know you’ve got to have a volleyball scene. It’s not a ‘Top Gun’ movie without it,’ ” director Joseph Kosinski told USA Today. “Everyone had their calendar circled with: ‘This is dogfight football day. Break out the coconut oil and the spray tan, let’s do this!'”

Actors Miles Teller, Glen Powell, Jay Ellis and Danny Ramirez had spent months honing their physiques prior to shooting, and this moment of levity within the larger action of the movie offered them an opportunity to show off the results of all their hard work.

Speaking to Men’s Health, Powell admitted that as soon as he heard he got the part, he began thinking about the football scene, and that its aesthetic concerns became a priority in his training alongside the functional fitness required. “I knew the stakes were high,” he said. “In the days leading up, there was more male insecurity than you’ve ever seen on any set ever… And probably more coconut oil than even on Magic Mike.”

In a new behind-the-scenes clip released on the official Top Gun: Maverick Twitter account, the actors can be seen on the beach doing banded curls ahead of filming the scene. It’s a pretty common practice for performers to do this right before going on camera shirtless, but those curls alone wouldn’t make much of a difference if there hadn’t been consistent hard work leading up to the big day. You could even argue that these exercises do nothing physical, but are great for the actor’s mindset, building a ton of pre-shoot confidence.

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