The star opened up to ET at the premiere on Wednesday and reflected on the 'daunting' task of making sure it lived up to expectations.
Tom Cruise is finally going to see Top Gun: Maverick soar into theaters, after years of planning, prepping, shooting and eventual delays. The celebrated movie star says the pressure is something he anticipated and is excited about.
Cruise arrived via helicopter to the red carpet premiere of the long-awaited sequel on Wednesday -- held on the deck of the USS Midway aircraft carrier in San Diego, California -- and spoke with ET's Nischelle Turner about basking in the joy of the experience.
"This is quite a moment. It's been 36 years [in the making] for this film, the fans have been asking for it all around the world... I kept telling the actors, 'It's coming!'" Cruise said with a laugh. "I kept having to push the film off another year, another year, and I just said, 'Look, we're gonna have a great time when this opens.'"
The film is already getting a lot of buzz for its wild, high-flying action sequences and its various call-backs and loving homages to the classic original.
Some of the OG cast also joined Cruise in returning for the new project, including Val Kilmer -- who first reprises his role as Tom "Iceman" Kazansky, a former rival-turned-friend to Cruise's Pete "Maverick" Mitchell.
"In the first one, I really rallied hard for him to be in the movie, because he's such a tremendous actor, and [I wanted] to have him play that character," Cruise recalled of Kilmer, who famously was hesitant to co-star in the original Top Gun.
"I told [director] Tony [Scott], 'You gotta go and tackle this guy!' I said, 'Val, you gotta make this movie. You're gonna be amazing.' That's the kind of talent that he has," Cruise shared.
Cruise then worked his magic and made sure Kilmer was on board for the sequel, and the pair share one of the most emotional scenes in the film.
"You see that scene and it's very special. It's just very special," Cruise shared wistfully. "He's beautiful."
While Cruise is eager to have fans see the new, action-packed Top Gun: Maverick, the star admitted that it was "daunting" when it came to making a film that could live up to the original and meet fans' expectations.
However, Cruise explained that something he told himself and those working on the sequel, "If you're not sweating bullets doing this film, you shouldn't be on this movie."
Haven't seen the OG film? ET has you covered on how to watch the original Top Gun ahead of the highly anticipated sequel, which hits theaters May 27.