“It’s 4:56 A.M. I’m in Burbank Airport,” said James Corden at the start of the segment that aired during the May 23 episode of The Late Late Show. “I’m here,” said James, 43, “because Tom Cruise has asked me to meet him at 5 A.M., and when Tom Cruise calls, you sort of have to say yes.” Though, James would eventually wish he had let that call go to voicemail. Days before Top Gun: Maverick premieres in theaters, Tom, 59, decided to give his friend a personal and unique “sneak peek” at the film — by experiencing what it was like to film the pulse-pounding sequel to the 1986 original.
After Tom shows up in a HondaJet Elise jet, the two soar off to a desert airstrip. After they land, Tom tells James that “we’re going to go flying… We’re going to have a Top Gun day.” James, realizing that Tom wants to fly him around in a “seventy-year-old plane,” decides to make a run for it. However, there’s nowhere for James to run.
“I’m very excited that James is doing this,” Tom says to the camera. “Was he the first late-night show that I asked? Hell no. He was just the first one, the only one, to say yes.” Considering that the pre-flight safety talk for the propeller plane involves how Tom would flip the plane to “plop [James] out,” it makes sense that not many others would feel the need for speed. When a second propeller plane shows up for a “dog fight,” Tom scares the living daylights out of James by just barely scraping the side of a mountain.
“The fact that this is your idea of a ‘fun day out’ just tells me how different we are as human beings,” James said when they were back on solid ground. Tom reassures his friend that “the next plane has air conditioning.” James just looked at Tom with shock in his eyes. When James sees the fighter jet that Tom wants to fly next, that shock turns to horror.
Thanks to some convincing – “You are my Goose.” “When you say Goose, it makes me feel excited, and then I realized Goose dies at the end of the film.” “You’re the ‘first half of the film’ Goose.” – Tom gets James into the plane.
At first, James seems at ease. “I can take an in-flight mean in this,” he jokes, but he’s not laughing when l Tom guns the engine. “This is absolutely ludicrous. This is the stupidest thing I’ve done,” said James, as Tom comes super close to clipping the edge of the cliff. Then, Tom pulls off a loop. “You absolute bastard!” Corden said with tears in his eyes. When James proposes that they “fly straight” for the rest, Tom agrees – by turning the plane upside down.
“I love you and I hate you at the same time. That was absolutely outrageous,” said Corden once they were back on the ground. Tom said that James could “be my wingman, anytime.” “You know what? I think I’m good,” said James.