TOP GUN Interview: Rick Rossovich Talks Slider's Enduring Legacy, Why A Sequel Didn't Happen Sooner, & More

Top Gun celebrates its 35th anniversary this year, and star Rick Rossovich talks to us about what it was like to be part of the movie, the love fans have for the film and Slider, and that volleyball scene!

Happy Top Gun Day! 

The classic movie celebrates its 35th anniversary this year, with the blockbuster hit returning to over 150 Dolby Cinemas at AMC across the U.S. for an exclusive one-week engagement beginning today, May 13th. Newly remastered, Top Gun will be presented with Dolby Vision for ultra-vivid picture quality and with state-of-the-art Dolby Atmos audio for an exceptionally immersive experience.

For those of you who want to celebrate at home, Top Gun is available on Digital, 4K Ultra HD, and Blu-ray, which boast over four hours of bonus content, including a featurette that explores the film’s legacy and enduring popularity through interviews with Tom Cruise, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and members of the cast of the highly anticipated new film Top Gun: Maverick.

To make the anniversary, we were recently lucky enough to catch up with the legendary Slider himself, Rick Rossovich. As Iceman's R.I.O., he made for a fun antagonist for Maverick and Goose, and got to deliver some killer lines and definitely stood out in that memorable, and now iconic, volleyball scene.

While we had Rick on the phone, we asked him about the enduring legacies of the movie, what it was like to play Slider as a young man, why he doesn't think a sequel happened, and more. The actor even shared his thoughts on the way the aforementioned volleyball scene is still dissected online....

When you look back at the legacy of Top Gun 35 years on, how does it feel to see what a cultural phenomenon the film has become?

I get a real nostalgic feel. It’s touching in a way because it paints a picture...Look, I’ve had a great life. I’ve been blessed every day of my life, but that was a golden period. It was the first few years of my marriage and we were footloose and fancy-free. We had our first house and here I was on this big film. It brings back a sense of joy and nostalgia. It’s funny. I looked back at the 50s during the 80s and now we look back at the 80s 35 years on and that decade feels like the 50s did back then! All the crap peels away and you forget what was going on. Everyone in the film, we came up together and the relationships and how their lives have unfolded with the careers you've seen come out of that film is amazing. 

So, it’s the mid-1980s, and you, Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer, and Anthony Edwards are all young guys having fun shooting this movie; what was that experience like with the camaraderie you must have had on set? 

I was a little bit older strangely enough. I was about 27 or 28 and everyone else was four or five years younger. I was the only one that was married, but there were older cast members like Tom Skerritt and Michael Ironside and James Tolkan, and they were fun guys to hang out with too. We were in our heyday, though, making the rounds in San Diego and enjoying ourselves. We had some time off and just always had a lot of fun. We took some trips to Mexico that were pretty wild and it was a good time to be young and free. Being involved with the Navy and the theme of the film made it feel very authentic, and while we didn’t know it would become the success it ultimately did, you’re always hopeful when you're working on a project. 

What was it like at the time to see the movie take off and become such a smash hit? 

Who would have known it would have that sort of staying power? That year, the movie was unstoppable. It came out in theaters and they were adding theaters all the way into the next month constantly. In the movie business, you usually lose theaters. It really rode the wave and didn’t lose theaters for the first six months. Instead, the film just powered its way through. Top Gun even had great music that really drove people to it because you’d hear that on the radio, so it was all-encompassing. I think it sold 48 million tickets in America that summer which is...well, when you do the math, it’s amazing. There were other films out that year either with military themes like Platoon, so we had some competition, but it was such a feel-good adventure. A lot of people can analyse Top Gun and say this or that about certain things, but it stands out. To live through and watch that experience, you felt something you’d never felt before. 

It feels like Top Gun could have easily been a franchise like Mission: Impossible with new movies coming out every few years, but were there ever any talks of a sequel while you were making the film?

There were several factors that played into that, but we always said it was a one and done. You don’t want to risk diminishing something by coming back to it. There are certain franchises like Back to the Future, that if you compare the original to the next one, it doesn't always stack up. Terminator might be the exception because the sequel was a legit showstopper. I was in that first one, and James Cameron had the freedom to do what he wanted with it and made a low budget movie on a shoestring. He was so clever. Then, he blew that away. With Top Gun, I think a sequel might have been a misstep because a lot of us were relieved it didn’t happen because it might have diminished the power of the first one. That being said, Tom’s got something coming out here on November 19th, and I think you should get ready. I think it’s going to be a real ride and people are going to embrace it in the theaters. Paramount is holding it for theaters because it’s a theatrical experience that should be seen as the filmmakers intended. I’ve known Tom for a very long time and he wouldn’t make any mistakes. He’s a true professional. The original film is hitting 150 theaters next week, so it’s going to be a lot of fun for people to see that on the big screen too, redone and made beautiful, so go see it! 

Finally, that volleyball scene has become iconic, but what sort of direction do you remember getting from Tony Scott and are you surprised how much it’s still talked about and even analysed when it feels like just a fun moment in the wider context of the movie? 

I think that’s the whole thing. People are trying to find some hidden message, but it really was just a fun scene [Laughs]. We had a great cinematographer in Jeffrey Kimball and a great crew. We went to set that day, they threw down some sand, we took off our shirts, and were just ourselves having fun as kids would if they were kids as men. We attacked the net like we were attacking the land when we were shooting those scenes on other days. We never knew it would take off and it’s been emulated in a lot of other movies, but I’m really happy that I had my foot in the sandbox that day and it’s been a fun one to carry forward. 

Well, it’s a scene that helped make Slider an icon and a character people love, so thanks for taking the time today, Rick. 

[Laughs] At the end of the film, I get my last pose from that scene, and it's what people always remember. It’s been great to talk to you. Thanks, Josh.

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