Lewis Hamilton Almost Played a Fighter Pilot in 'Top Gun: Maverick'

The seven-time F1 world champion discussed having to pass on the role in Vanity Fair's September issue.

Daniel Golson Former social media editor
2 min read
Sir Lewis Hamilton waving at the 2022 Grand Prix of Hungary

Lewis would look good in a flight suit.

Peter J Fox/Getty Images

Beyond just needing to be a top-tier driver, being a Formula 1 driver requires an intense level of physical fitness and skill. F1 drivers experience extreme g-forces and searing temperatures, not to mention the extreme danger inherent to the sport. One of the only jobs that really surpasses F1 in terms of intensity and skill is fighter jet pilot, and in a fantastic and wide-ranging interview for Vanity Fair's September cover story, seven-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton says he nearly melded the two worlds, almost joining the cast of Top Gun: Maverick.

The revelation comes after Hamilton discusses Apple's upcoming Formula 1 movie, which he will be a producer on. Set to star Brad Pitt, that unnamed film will be directed by Joseph Kosinski and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, the duo behind the new Top Gun. Hamilton says he won't act in the movie, as it's too clichéd to be a race car driver playing a race car driver, but he has been heavily involved in overhauling the script so it's accurate to what F1 is really like.

Hamilton then goes on to talk about his friendship with Tom Cruise, which developed after visiting the set of Edge of Tomorrow, and says that he was obsessed with becoming a fighter pilot as a kid after watching the original Top Gun. "So when I heard the second one was coming out, I was like, 'Oh, my God, I have to ask him, I don't care what role it is. I'll even sweep something, be a cleaner in the back,'" says Hamilton. Cruise said yes, but the role that Hamilton got offered was even cooler: He would play one of the fighter pilots.

Watch this: Top Gun: Maverick trailer debuts at Comic-Con 2019

Sadly, filming for Top Gun: Maverick would take place during the end of the Formula 1 season, and Hamilton knew he wouldn't be able to do both to the level of perfection at which he likes to operate. Hamilton says telling Cruise and Kosinski that he couldn't go through with the project was "the most upsetting call I think I've ever had."

His F1 background would've prepared him well for the role too, as the cast of Top Gun: Maverick underwent legit pilot training to prepare for the film, as the actors were really up in the sky in fighter jets during filming (though not actually piloting the planes themselves).

Top Gun: Maverick recently passed the $1 billion mark at the global box office, making it both Cruise and Paramount's most successful film ever, and it's also the seventh highest-grossing movie in domestic box office history, beating out Titanic. Given the runaway success of the film, it wouldn't be a shock to see another entry in the franchise. Though Hamilton denies rumors that he's ready to quit F1, if the stars align maybe we'll see him star in Top Gun 3.