Director Joseph Kosinski, whose movies are well known the world over, is the mastermind behind the latest blockbuster featuring Tom Cruise, “Top Gun: Maverick”. And like almost no other in Hollywood, Kosinski experiences this world of dynamism and speed firsthand. Appointment in Los Angeles with a man full of adrenaline and fantastic ideas.
Tom Cruise gives a powerful performance in the blockbuster movie “Top Gun: Maverick”, which was released in 2022. In one scene, he orders a young pilot he has taken under his wing to “Trust your instincts!” With little time to think, the pilot will need a good dose of self-confidence to survive a highly dangerous mission. Cruise is an extraordinary pilot in real life and not only trained pilots in the movie, but also trained actors during the shoot. Working with navy pilots, he taught them how to withstand forces of more than 7 g and still perform their roles in F/A-18 jets. “It was a huge undertaking,” says director Joseph “Joe” Kosinski, referring to one of the most successful productions in film history. “But the audience won’t take the forces and speeds seriously unless the shots are realistic.”
According to the 48-year-old, great cinema requires maximum authenticity – and it’s no different with his new Formula 1 movie. “I’ve always been interested in speed,” adds Kosinski. We’re sitting in his home theater, where he receives Tom Cruise on occasion and more recently Brad Pitt, the star of his motorsport movie under production in 2023. The house is an architectural jewel, and the director a quiet, focused conversation partner. But sitting isn’t one of his strengths. “I’m always moving. I don’t do well on vacation.”
“I’ve always been interested in speed.”
He originally wanted to build race cars and even dreamed about it under his
Kosinski’s career in filming kicked off during his studies in architecture in New York – when he began producing his first short films. The “Desert House” flick was just two minutes long, but still managed to win over marketing experts at Nike. Soon thereafter, Kosinski filmed his first of many high-speed commercials.
Two of his cinematic successes are sequels: science fiction film “Tron: Legacy” and, of course, “Top Gun: Maverick”. Does the Formula 1 movie look to past films for guidance? “For inspiration, definitely,” says Kosinski. For him, the 2010 documentary about Ayrton Senna is the best motorsport movie of all time. “That’s because of its accuracy. It shows you better than anything else what it’s like to compete in Formula 1 races.” He also considers the 1966 movie “Grand Prix” to be a cinematic milestone. “The plot, including the love story, is fictional, but John Frankenheimer filmed during real races with real drivers,” explains Kosinski, praising the US director’s pioneering work. “He developed a camera that could be mounted on a race car and even rotated. For me, that movie is still one of the most groundbreaking feats of engineering in film history, which we now build on today. We were successful with special cameras in jets, and can go even further technologically for the Formula 1 movie.”
Speed is not the only element that connects his movies. Kosinski’s work often reflects his childhood enthusiasm for cars and his passion for
Kristin and Joe Kosinski now have two sons – twelve and eight years of age – and a two-year-old daughter, all of whom fit inside the
Strong women are important to the American. In addition to female “Top Gun” pilot Phoenix, who he always had fly with real, female navy pilots, he also created the character of Penny Benjamin for the box office hit. “An independent businesswoman and proficient sailor who can keep pace with Maverick.” At the romantic end of the movie, Penny drives up in her sports car, the 911 S built in 1973, which is more than a homage to the 356
The characters he creates are consistent and captivating, and offer a welcome contrast to absolute superheroes. The Formula 1 movie should be successful in the same way. “We talk about the unique interdependencies between technology, driving talent, and business, which we want to communicate – along with the brutal speed.”
Everything he’s ever done is now paying off for Kosinski: his expertise in automotive engineering, aerodynamics, and music – paired with his passion for cars and speed. “I didn’t become a director through film school, which is very lucky for me,” he says, reflecting on his varied career. Time for a discreet glance at his watch – Kosinski is wearing the black Chronograph I by
By Heike Hientzsch
Photos Linhbergh Nguyen