'Top Gun: Behind Closed Doors': Maverick's iconic beach volleyball scene almost got director Tony Scott fired
Apart from the epic action scenes in 'Top Gun', you can't really forget the volleyball scene in the film. How did these hotshot navy pilots have time to play volleyball? In real life, they have intense study to do after work as it's a strenuous profession. However, the film decided to change it up a little, for the audience. The audience didn't complain after seeing the shirtless men play on a beach and no one's complaining even now, 30 years later.
Yet, there was much irritation about this scene in the film as the studio executives were frustrated with director Tony Scott for taking two days to shoot the scene. Apart from this, the co-ordinators from the US Navy had to be reminded consistently that 'Top Gun' wasn't a documentary and that they weren't the target audience and the volleyball scene was going to stay.
According to 'Top Gun: Behind Closed Doors', a documentary on Reelz that provides all the gossip on the drama that went on during the making of the film, Scott was almost fired for taking two days over filming the volleyball scene, as it "was just a paragraph in the script". Scott wasn't entirely rattled about it, because he had already come close to being forced to exit the project altogether. After being placated, the studio executives had to make peace with the fact that the volleyball scene will take a while to be filmed. Scott got fired from the project thrice, but somehow, he still managed to return and this became a recurring joke.
"They came to Miramar with a tractor, found a spot that they liked, filled with sand, shot the volleyball scene, and then took down the net, covered the hole with grass. People say that they know where the volleyball scene was shot, but the spot doesn't exist anymore," technical advisor, Pete Pettigrew said.
"All these handsome, young buff young guys playing volleyball without their shirts---this image became one of the most iconic things and memories about the film. I remember it because the women I knew i talked about it," recalls Margery Simkin the film's casting director. Scott didn't mind, despite stinging notes coming everyday to the shoot, telling them to not do certain scenes. Scott didn't bow down, and would just tell the team, "I'm still here. Let's keep shooting."
So that's what viewers got to see ultimately in the film. In the famous scene, Maverick (Tom Cruise) and Goose (Anthony Edwards) play volleyball against Maverick's prime adversary, Iceman (Val Kilmer) and his co-pilot Slider (Rick Rossovich). Aside from that, there’s not much more story told during the sweaty sequence except for the buildup of Maverick’s impending hot date with Charlie (Kelly McGillis).