It's Top Gun Day and the film's producer Jerry Bruckheimer is reflecting on what he calls his most "iconic" film to date.
Ahead of the film's re-release in theaters for its 35th anniversary, the prolific movie producer tells PEOPLE he "was really fortunate to get in on the ground floor" of Tom Cruise's career.
Cruise, 58, originally turned down the role of Lt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell until Bruckheimer offered him the opportunity to fly a jet with the Blue Angels, a U.S. Navy flight demonstration squadron.
"I think the proudest thing I am is that we convinced him to do this movie, Top Gun, back in '84 or '85," Bruckheimer, 77, tells PEOPLE.
"I was really fortunate to get in on the ground floor of Tom's career and be part of something that became an iconic movie because of him and because of his longevity and his great arc as an actor," says Bruckheimer. "And whatever he touches is something that you know is going to be really good because he cares so much and work so hard."
As for which of Bruckheimer's extensive list of movies he's frequently asked about, the producer said, "It's always Top Gun."
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Steve Granitz/WireImage Jerry Bruckheimer and Tom Cruise
"It always comes back to Top Gun or Pearl Harbor," he says. "There's so many movies. Armageddon, Enemy of the State, Crimson Tide. There's been a whole mosaic of films that we've been involved in, but Top Gun is the iconic one."
"It's amazing to see it in the theater. It's going to get people excited, get them out of their houses. It's the best way to break the pandemic," he adds.
Fans of Top Gun can relive the original blockbuster hit in Dolby Cinemas at AMC across the country beginning Thursday, or at home now on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray or Digital.
The long-awaited sequel Top Gun: Maverick opens in theaters Nov. 19.