Tom Cruise Allegedly Fired Twenty-One Pilots from ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Soundtrack Before Lady Gaga Joined

A "wholesale swap" led to Lady Gaga boarding the project and penning the ballad "Hold My Hand."
Tom Cruise plays Capt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell in Top Gun: Maverick from Paramount Pictures, Skydance and Jerry Bruckheimer Films.
"Top Gun: Maverick"
Paramount Pictures

The sky just isn’t big enough for these dueling aviators. Twenty-One Pilots frontman Tyler Joseph alleged that “Top Gun: Maverick” producer and star Tom Cruise “fired” the band from the sequel film’s soundtrack.

Joseph explained on Los Angeles-based radio station KROQ that he thought his Grammy-winning two-person band was flying high after being brought on by Paramount Pictures to contribute to the “Top Gun 2” soundtrack. However, Joseph said Cruise wasn’t a fan of the Pilots’ sound.

“I was working with the music placement person for the new ‘Top Gun’ on writing a new song for them, and then I believe Tom Cruise came in and just fired everyone,” Joseph said. “You’ve seen that new ‘Top Gun’ thing that he’s got? The trailer has been out for, like, three years, so there’s been a few overhauls, and I was a part of that, so, they moved on.”

Joseph noted that he “saw some scenes” from the film but didn’t start writing material before the multiple release date delays due to the pandemic. “Top Gun: Maverick” now premieres at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival before landing in theaters May 27.

“It was actually pretty soon after they brought me in to show me parts of the movie and what they were looking for and stuff,” Joseph added. “Then I got word that there was like a wholesale swap.”

That “swap” included Lady Gaga boarding the film as a contributor to the score along with Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer, Lorne Balfe, and Harold Faltermeyer. The Oscar winner also debuted the original song “Hold My Hand” for the highly anticipated sequel, set 30 years after the 1986 original.

“When I wrote this song for ‘Top Gun: Maverick,’ I didn’t even realize the multiple layers it spanned across the film’s heart, my own psyche, and the nature of the world we’ve been living in,” Gaga captioned when announcing the single. “This song is a love letter to the world during and after a very hard time.”

Cruise praised Gaga’s dedication to the film while on “The Late Late Show,” saying that the song “opened up the whole movie” and grounded the “emotional core” of the epic film.

“The song she’d written just fell right in and became, really, the underlying score and the heartbeat of our film,” Cruise said.

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