Top Gun: Maverick Nearly Featured A Cameo From One Of F1's Greatest Drivers

Another week brings yet another fun fact for everyone involved in "Top Gun: Maverick" to brag about. As if saving the box office isn't notable enough, this film can also tout its status as the seventh biggest film at the box office ever, plus it has the Quentin Tarantino stamp of approval. Showing absolutely no sign of ever slowing down, "Maverick" is once again back in the headlines because fans have learned that a celebrated F1 Driver was once set to enter the danger zone alongside Tom Cruise.

If you run in any Formula One-obsessed circles, then you're no stranger to the massive success of British driver, Lewis Hamilton. As he revealed in his recent profile for Vanity Fair, Hamilton — who is no stranger to strapping on protective gear and moving at record speed in a vehicle that's specifically made for professionals — almost starred alongside Tom Cruise in "Top Gun: Maverick." Unfortunately, scheduling got in the way.

The need for ... perfection

So how did this come to almost be? It turns out that Hamilton and Tom Cruise have been friends for many years. He described the actor as "One of the nicest people you'll ever meet," and explained where their friendship began:

"He invited me to his set years ago when he was doing 'Edge of Tomorrow,' and then we just built a friendship over time."

Years later, Hamilton heard tell of plans for a sequel to the '80s fighter pilot film "Top Gun" and knew he had to seize the opportunity. He told Vanity Fair he was obsessed with Cruise's character after seeing the movie as a child — lo and behold, as an adult, he'd be able to shoot Maverick a text. Hamilton said,

"When I heard the second one was coming out, I was like, 'Oh, my God, I have to ask him.' I said, 'I don't care what role it is. I'll even sweep something, be a cleaner in the back.'"

Not only was Cruise thrilled to have Hamilton on board, but he had much bigger plans for the F1 World Champion than playing a cleaner. Hamilton was set to star as one of the fighter pilots who join Maverick at his training camp. Unfortunately, this is where things started to fall apart: filming was set to take place during the climax of the Formula One season. With so much on his plate, Hamilton knew he wouldn't be able to fully commit to his role in the film, so he passed on the opportunity entirely. 

"I'm a perfectionist," Hamilton explained, recalling the devastating phone call where he had to let Cruise and Kosinski know that he wouldn't be part of the film. He called it "The most upsetting call that I think I've ever had."

Lewis Hamilton's big Hollywood plans

If there's a bright side to this, it's the fact that Hamilton missed out on all the in-flight puking sessions. But then again, flying a plane for "Top Gun" wouldn't have been his first time embracing the Need For Speed. So here's a better bright side: Hamilton's Hollywood aspirations have yet to be fully dashed. In fact, he has plans to team up with "Maverick" director Joseph Kosinski in the very near future. Hamilton is one of the producers of Brad Pitt-starring F1 movie that Kosinski will direct for Apple.

It's been described as "Brad Pitt playing a racer who comes out of retirement to mentor a younger driver and take his final stab at glory on the track as the younger driver's teammate." While the unnamed film is still in development, Hamilton has already met with Pitt and "arranged for him to tour the factories in Britain where 2,000 people are united in the sole task of creating this year's Formula 1 car for Mercedes."

Given his own experience in the racing industry, Hamilton has also been working with the writers to keep the storytelling as authentic as possible. All that said, Hamilton has no plans to be on camera for the Pitt movie. He told Vanity Fair that a cameo in a racing movie might be a little too cliche for him. He must be forgetting the time he leant his voice to "Cars 2" and "Cars 3" — ya know, the Pixar movies about sentient race cars.