Maverick ‘throwing shirts, makes sense for the dogfight football scene

Maverick ‘throwing shirts, makes sense for the dogfight football scene

SAN DIEGO — For a moment of reflection, ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ star Glen Powell reflects on the action movie’s moist, sandy diversion from the already famous dogfight football scene.

“I played football growing up in Texas,” Powell says. “And I don’t understand the rules of dogfight football. They make absolutely no sense.”

He’s right: the first rule of film dogfight football is that it doesn’t make sense. It’s not so much a game used by Tom Cruise’s flight instructor, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, but a slick excuse to show off the handsome physical specimens that make up the cast of “Top Gun: Maverick.” Not a criticism, a thank you.

The muscle show is a direct call to the legendary game of beach volleyball from the original film, featuring a buff Cruise, Val Kilmer and Rick Rossovich vying for Top Guns in the best flex (Anthony Edwards wore a shirt).

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Glen Powell sheds his shirt for the dogfight football game in

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Director Joseph Kosinski knew he had to bring some sort of sweaty nod to the sequel.

“When anybody and everybody found out I was doing this movie, they were like, ‘You know, you gotta have a volleyball scene. It’s not a ‘Top Gun’ movie without it,” Kosinski says. “But it can’t just be a random edit. We have to move the story forward.”

Kosinski credits screenwriter Ehren Kruger with creating Maverick’s on-screen team-building exercise. There are real rules: two balls in play, attack and defense at the same time, lots of runs and touchdowns. “For me, it was a brilliant solution,” says Kosinski.

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Glen Powell and Monica Barbaro play their game in

Rossovich, who believes he won the original body contest, told USA TODAY how the original “Top Gun” stars competed (“We were all trying to get an edge”). But the late “Top Gun” director Tony Scott surprised them all with the filming date, dumping a truckload of sand and telling the actors to play.

Kosinski allowed his cast to focus on the big day.

“Everyone had their calendar circled, with ‘It’s dogfight football day. Get out the coconut oil and the spray tan, let’s do this!’ ” said Kosinsky. “And I knew I just had to shoot it.”

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