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Lewis Hamilton isn’t a fighter pilot, but he almost played one in the movies alongside Tom Cruise. The Formula 1 racing star called up his friend Cruise when he found out Top Gun: Maverick was taking flight. The driver must have known the film would break multiple box office records, because he went the Samuel L. Jackson route as he angled for a role. In the end, Hamilton had to turn down the Maverick part Cruise created for him.

Lewis Hamilton (left) at the 2022 Hungarian Grand Prix; Tom Cruise at a UK showing of 'Top Gun: Maverick.' Hamilton channeled Samuel L. Jackson as he angled to star with Cruise in 'Top Gun: Maverick,' but ultimately had to turn down a larger role.
(l-r) Lewis Hamilton; Tom Cruise | Dan Mullan/Getty Images; Neil Mockford/FilmMagic

Samuel L. Jackson said he’d appear in ‘Star Wars’ in any role

They inspire a love-hate reaction with fans now, but the Star Wars prequel trilogy was big news then. Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, and Hayden Christensen nabbed the major roles, but Jackson possessed a strong desire to appear in the trilogy.

As George Lucas cast the movies, Jackson famously said he’d be willing to play a stormtrooper just to say he appeared in a Star Wars movie. Lucas did much more than that, creating the role of Jedi Mace Windu for Jackson.

Hamilton called Cruise when he learned Top Gun: Maverick was a go and copied Jackson’s approach as he angled for a part in the movie.

Lewis Hamilton tells Tom Cruise he’d “be a cleaner in the back” to appear in ‘Maverick’

Like many people who watched the original Top Gun at a young age, Hamilton became an instant fan who wanted to be a fighter pilot. That never happened, but his job as an F1 champion might be the next best thing. 

It allowed him to meet Cruise and develop a friendship with him. So when he found out Paramount greenlit Top Gun: Maverick, he called up Cruise and went the Samuel L. Jackson route to score a role, as he told Vanity Fair:

“[W]hen 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.’”

Lewis Hamilton on the role he’d take to be in Top Gun: Maverick

Cruise channeled Lucas and had a part written for Hamilton, but the filming clashed with the F1 season. He told Vanity Fair that calling Cruise and director Joseph Kosinski and saying no was “The most upsetting call that I think I’ve ever had.”

Hamilton didn’t have a chance to work with Cruise and Kosinski on Maverick, but he’ll pair with the director and another Hollywood A-lister soon.

Hamilton and Brad Pitt team up for a documentary about the driver

Hamilton’s Hollywood breakthrough (not counting voice roles where he played himself in Cars 2 and 3) in Maverick didn’t materialize. Still, he found a way to break into show business.

Hamilton, Kosinski, and Brad Pitt will team up to usher an F1 film to AppleTV+, according to the tech giant:

Apple Studios has landed the sought-after Formula One racing feature from Joseph Kosinski, Plan B Entertainment, and Jerry Bruckheimer Films, starring Academy Award winner Brad Pitt (‘Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood’). Kosinski is set to direct and will produce the feature alongside seven-time Formula One champion Sir Lewis Hamilton, Plan B Entertainment (‘World War Z’), Jerry Bruckheimer, and Chad Oman of Jerry Bruckheimer Films.

Pitt stars as a driver who comes out of retirement to compete alongside a rookie driver against the titans of the sport.


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As a producer and F1 driver, it’s not hard to imagine Hamilton appearing in the movie in some way beyond a cameo. 

Lewis Hamilton channeled Samuel L. Jackson as he campaigned for a role in Top Gun: Maverick. That didn’t happen, but the driver could earn a show business breakthrough soon enough.

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