Most Iconic Top Gun Scene Almost Got Director Fired

"The studio was so pissed off."

Image Credit: Paramount Pictures

The infamous yet iconic volleyball scene from Top Gun almost got the film’s director, Tony Scott fired. Here’s why…


With Top Gun: Maverick currently in theatres, it’s been no surprise that everyone’s been reminiscing about the first Top Gun film. It is iconic, after all.

It’s the film that cemented Tom Cruise as a Hollywood star and features some of the best aerial footage ever captured for an action film. Top Gun is also well-remembered, thirty-six years after its release, for the infamous volleyball scene (which you can watch below).

The scene when Cruise and Val Kilmer are shirtless and glistening in sweat, jumping up and down spiking volleyball after volleyball on a beach while Kenny Loggins’ Playing With The Boys plays has been described as ‘soft porn’ – even by Top Gun’s late director Tony Scott on the 30th anniversary DVD’s commentary – and parodied endlessly.

But the volleyball scene almost got Scott fired. The scene only lasts for about two minutes and was a single paragraph in Top Gun’s script but Chris Lebenzon, who edited Top Gun, revealed on THR’s Behind the Screen podcast that Scott spent an entire day filming it – and that made Paramount Pictures mad.

“That scene was scripted as a real game, [so] they kept score and everything. And Tony [Scott] shot it like a commercial, and they were angry.”

Chris Lebenzon

Billy Weber, who also edited Top Gun with Lebenzon, chimed in at this point during the podcast and said,

The infamous scene has been parodied by American Dad, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Workaholics, Big Mouth and more over the years. Image Credit: Paramount Pictures

“The studio was so pissed off. The head of production, Charlie McGuire, he said, ‘I’m gonna fire him’… because he spent a whole day shooting this scene.”

Billy Weber

Weber goes on to laugh at the irony that the scene that almost lost Scott his job, became the most iconic scene in Top Gun.

“And then, of course, it turns out it’s one of the most famous scenes in a movie.”

Billy Weber

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