Exclusive: Top Gun: Maverick star Greg Tarzan Davis reveals what it's really like working with Tom Cruise

Top Gun: Maverick is released on 27 May

In 2017 Greg 'Tarzan' Davis quit his job as an elementary school teacher in Louisiana to pursue his dream of acting. Five years on, he's about to hit the big screen alongside the biggest movie star in the world, Tom Cruise, in Top Gun: Maverick - and next year's Mission:Impossible 7.

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It was a risk that paid off, and Tarzan says that he and Tom are now "brothers for life" after first meeting when he was cast in the sequel to the hit 1986 film Top Gun. Maverick was due to be released in 2020 but the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the cast and crew have been forced to hold onto the passion project for two more years - but it also gave them even more time to bond as a family.

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WATCH: Tom Cruise stars in the new official Top Gun: Maverick trailer

"We went through something no one else will understand; we are the only people who can communicate with each other on these feelings," says Tarzan of cast mates turned friends including Glen Powell, Jay Ellis and Miles Teller.

"We spent a year together just training and learning from each other; we partied together, we traveled together, vacationed together, attended baby showers and weddings. We are so close knit."

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As for working with 59-year-old Tom, arguably one of the last movie stars in the world, Tarzan tells HELLO! that "his energy is infectious and it rubs off on you, just to see his thrill" for acting.

"He has been doing this for 40 plus years and he still came to set with an enthusiasm that matched my first day on set. I have always loved film but I love it even more now from working with Tom and understanding how everything is built, learning that whole process. And working with him every day is an opportunity to learn as everytime he speaks he is dropping nuggets; just watching him, you see why he does what he does, and I enjoyed every waking minute of being on set with him."

Greg 'Tarzan' Davis stars as callsign Coyote in the new Top Gun sequel (Photography by Malik Daniels)

Tarzan was cast after he auditioned for the Harrison Ford flick The Call of the Wild, and then was asked back to read for a "top secret role".

"We had an indication it was Top Gun," laughs Tarzan, sharing that he then had two auditions before undergoing a director callback session with Joseph Kosinski and "then I got a call saying Tom Cruise is watching the tape and that was the highlight of my career at that point - Tom watched me!".

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As for how he found out he got the role? "I got a call from my team and they didn't say anything, they just played the Top Gun theme song! I will never forget that moment."

Tom is known for performing all his stunts and that filtered down to the cast as much as possible. "I didn't know we would be doing it as practically as it was," shares Tarzan, adding: "They asked if we were afraid of flying but to get up there and actually do it…it's a small portion of people on this planet who have flown a F18 and to be part of this group is an honor."

He shared how special it was to work alongside Tom

A football player in high school, Tarzan attended Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, where he majored in Elementary Education and Teaching, and after graduating in 2015 taught for two years.

"I love kids deeply and they are my heart, but I just felt that being in the classroom was not the thing I wanted to do," he says of those years after graduation. "I didn't want to live with regret. So many people I know do jobs they aren't proud of, and I did not want to be the person saying, 'shoulda coulda woulda'."

But teaching first to third graders taught Tarzan an invaluable lesson as well: "As a child we have this huge imagination, we dream big and think anything is possible, and as we get older we are knocked down by life. But the reality is you can be whatever you want to be and you can do whatever you want to do. It's about finding a life that feels good."

Tom still performs his own stunts

Having to fall back on teaching doesn't seem to be a problem Tarzan is going to face though. He has already worked on hit network shows including Chicago PD and Grey's Anatomy, where he had a small recurring role as Dr Wright.

The ABC show is about to film its 19th season and shows no signs of slowing down so there is always scope for Tarzan to return to the small screen.

"I didn't die so never say never!" he laughs.

Tarzan as Dr Wright on Grey's Anatomy

Now the press tour for Top Gun: Maverick is over, Tarzan is thinking ahead to what's next, and that includes the July 2023 release of Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One.

"That film is going to be insane," he says. "That first trailer encapsulates everything we went through filming that movie, especially during the pandemic.

"[It's a] knuckle-gripping-at-the-edge-of-your-seat-what-the-heck-is-going-on-and-where-the-heck-are-they-now spectacle that people will enjoy, I hope that sums it up!"

Photographer: Malik Daniels

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