Why director Tony Scott was almost fired because of the iconic beach volleyball scene “The Best Shooter”


There are many iconic moments in Top Gun that fans remember fondly. One of these moments is a volleyball game with Val Kilmer and Tom Cruise naked to the waist. This was a highlight for many Top Gun fans, but Paramount wasn’t thrilled with this scene before the film’s release. Director Tony Scott was almost fired because of the Top Gun beach volleyball scene.

The “Best Shooter” beach volleyball scene was remembered by many fans.

In Top Gun, pilots take a break in flight to take part in beach volleyball competitions. In this scene, all the pilots are shirtless and with shiny muscular bodies. Both Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer participate in this episode as they confront each other and build their rivalry.

The beach volleyball scene also included the Kenny Loggins song “Playing With the Boys”, which only added to the cheesy nature of the episode. It’s straight out of the 1980s, and at that time the audience had a lot of fun, even if the scene has little to do with the real plot.

Director Tony Scott was almost fired for the volleyball scene

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Top Gun editors Chris Lebenzon and Billy Weber talked about their experience with the original film. They started talking about the soundtrack and how certain songs were chosen for the film.

When discussing “Playing with Boys,” Lebenzon and Weber mentioned that the scene was supposed to be much shorter, but Scott spent a whole day on it. In the script, the scene was only one paragraph long.

“The volleyball scene. “We’re playing with the boys,” Lebenzon said. “This scene was written like a real game. Remember, they were keeping score and everything, and Tony was filming it as a commercial, and they were angry.”

“The studio was so furious,” Weber added. “The head of production, Charlie McGuire, said: “I’m going to fire him,” meaning Tony, because he spent the whole day filming this scene. And then, of course, it turns out that this is one of the most famous scenes in the film.”

“We didn’t expect this,” Lebenzon continued. “And it was interesting to edit. I’ve never done a commercial or a music video before. And that was Tony’s strong point.”

“Best Shooter: Maverick” pays homage to the beach Volleyball scene

In the end, the late director learned more than the studio as this scene became iconic. In Top Gun: Maverick, the beach volleyball scene returns, but with a twist. Now the pilots are playing beach soccer, and the sequence is more connected to the narrative.

Speaking to the press at CinemaCon 2022 (shared via Cinemablend), director Joseph Kosinski said they wanted to include something similar to the volleyball scene, but they wanted to make it different.

“We didn’t want to be a cover version of Top Gun,” Kosinski said. “So, our talented screenwriters have figured out how this scene really has a story. You’ll see that Maverick has a very specific moment that made this scene happen. But the scene itself, I almost feel like Glen is almost better at talking about it, because for the actors it was the Super Bowl, you know, shirtless scenes. The amount of hard work that had to be done beforehand, and when the day came, you know, just aside, I originally conceived it as shirts against the skin, so when we got to the beach that day, I was kind of splitting it up, and very quickly discovered that no one (was) aiming save your shirt. They said, “No way, I’ve worked too hard.”

“Best Shooter: Maverick” is already in theaters.