Top Gun Could Have Looked Very Different Had This Actor Accepted The Role Before It Was Given To Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise role in Top Gun has enthralled audiences for over three decades. In 1986, Cruise’s turn as Lieutenant Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, a young naval aviator aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise became a cultural phenomenon.

The 2022 sequel film Top Gun: Maverick, grossed over $1.1 billion worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing film the year so far. But would he film still be a success if Cruise was not at the helm?

Matthew Modine Turned Down Tom Cruise’s Role In ‘Top Gun’

Matthew Modine has found a whole new fan base following his starring turn as Dr. Martin Brenner in Stranger Things. But the 63-year-old has turned down some almighty huge roles in the course of his career. Modine passed on Tom Cruise’s role in Top Gun, Charlie Sheen’s part in Wall Street and even Michael J. Fox’s “Marty McFly” in Back to the Future.


“I think Michael J. Fox was brilliant in ‘Back to the Future’ and I can’t imagine another actor doing a better job than him,” the actor told Fox News about the 1985 blockbuster. “He was perfect. I don’t know how else to describe it, but I can’t imagine someone other than Michael J. Fox in that role.”

Modine turned down Tom Cruise’s Top Gun to star as Pvt. Joker in Full Metal Jacket. The 1987 movie, directed by Stanley Kubrick, follows a U.S. Marine observing how the Vietnam War had a profound effect on his fellow recruits.

“I wanted to tell the story about human behavior and what the war does to individuals, our youth and how the scars that people receive from combat are not always physical,” Modine explained. “I thought it was a much more important story to me than telling the story about pointing the finger at the Russians and saying that they were the bad guy.”

“It was the 1980s and Reagan was president,” Modine continued. “And you, it seemed like … there were a lot of movies that were just pointing the finger at Russia and saying they were the bad guys. I think it’s too simplistic to do that. I had grown up in Utah and went to high school in San Diego and, for instance, I had not been taught that the Russians were our allies in the Second World War. That seemed to have been left out of the history books I was reading.”

Full Metal Jacket premiered in theaters on June 26, 1987. The film just celebrated its 33rd anniversary. Modine said the filmmaking process was an experience he will never forget.

“I can’t compare working on ‘Full Metal Jacket’ with any other experience that I’ve had,” he admitted. “I was in England for almost two years, working with Stanley Kubrick who is arguably one of the greatest filmmakers to ever get behind a motion picture camera. To learn from him, to receive a film education from him and just to listen to stories of his life and how he became a filmmaker — I just can’t compare that experience with any other film I’ve worked on.”

Related: Tom Cruise Called Paramount Pictures Himself After A 30-Minute Meeting Telling The Studio ‘We’re Making Another Top Gun’

Matthew Modine Turned Down His Role In ‘Stranger Things’ Three Times

Modine’s turn as Dr. Martin “Papa” Brenner on Netflix’s Stranger Things almost did not happen. In fact, he turned down the part three times.

“The Duffer Brothers didn’t have scripts for me to read,” said Modine. “All they had was a pitch and the initial pilot episode. When you ask somebody to say yes to something, you have to wonder, ‘What am I saying yes to?’ The motion picture industry and the television industry is notorious for people not being honest about what they’re actually doing.”

Related: Here’s What Happened When Tom Cruise And James Corden Went Skydiving Together

The star also pointed out that he was more interested in playing a good person, as opposed to an evil character. “It was a weird place to find myself in,” he said. “It was weird to transition from being a young leading man to receiving scripts where they were offering me … the bad guy.”

Fortunately, the for sci-fi fans the Duffer brothers managed to convince Modine to take on the role.

“The Duffer Brothers were incredibly complimentary to me,” said Modine. “They were flattering. They really had a deep understanding of the film career that I’d had up to that point. And when I spoke to them, they were so passionate about my participation that they talked me into it. And I said yes. I’m glad I did because it was an extraordinary experience to work with those young actors.”

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