A dentist from Sioux Falls is an extra in this summer’s blockbuster, “Top Gun: Maverick.”
Chris Dickes, 44, is a U.S. Navy veteran and appears in the bar scene in the latest Top Gun movie, which is the highest-grossing movie of 2022 so far.
But, how did he go from an expert on brushing teeth, to a brush with fame?
It all happened when Dickes and his family were visiting Disneyland in California in 2018, not too far from where he was stationed from 2005-2009 on the coast on an aircraft carrier. He called up an old Navy friend to see if he and his family would be able to visit him while they were on vacation.
Dickes’ old Navy friend told him he was working on logistics for actors and personnel involved with a new film that would be shooting soon, and the friend asked Dickes if he wanted to be an extra.
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That next day, Dickes went down to his old base and signed some paperwork to get paid for the upcoming “Top Gun” movie.
He was paid $150 for his day of shooting, he recalled, and he said he wouldn’t considering being in a third Top Gun movie “for the right price,” he laughed.
“We’ve been waiting on this for a while now,” Dickes said of the experience on-set for one day in 2018, and of the release of the film.
The bar he’s in for his scene mimics the one on the base that he’s used to, Dickes said, but the one on base is “much smaller.”
His scene starts with Tom Cruise walking through the back door, where Dickes and other extras were standing close by.
“He would walk right by me,” Dickes said. “In between takes, I was in a small group of people where (Cruise) was standing, and he made some small talk with us. He asked how we were doing, and said, ‘We’re going to get through this.’ It was super cool.”
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Cruise meant “getting through” the multiple takes it took to get the scene just right, Dickes said, adding that he became an “expert pantomime” by that point as he pretended to have a conversation with a complete stranger in the scene to make the bar look more lifelike.
Dickes said he tried to “play it cool” as Cruise went by him. Dickes also walked out alongside Jennifer Connelly, who plays Penny Benjamin, at one point during shooting.
He and his family and friends celebrated the release of the movie by renting out one of the local movie theaters for a private screening of the film, then hosting a big party afterwards.
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The first “Top Gun” movie was influential in Dickes’ childhood, he said, as he applied for a naval scholarship after high school that paid for his years of dental school at Creighton University and allowed him to serve for four years after school.
“I have the first movie pretty much memorized,” he said. “It’s a very instrumental movie for me, to just be part of the Navy and join the service as an officer.”