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Jon Hamm talks working on the new 'Top Gun' sequel with Tom Cruise: 'It was a no brainer'

"If my eighth-grade self could talk to my now self, both of us would not be computing that this is happening," said the actor.

When it comes to the "Top Gun" sequel, actor Jon Hamm is pinching himself that he's a part of it.

The "Mad Men" star sat down with Willie Geist on Sunday TODAY to discuss what it was like working with Tom Cruise and starring in the upcoming movie.

After two years of delays due to the coronavirus pandemic, "Top Gun: Maverick" is ready to hit theaters this Tuesday. The film revisits the story of Lt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, played by Cruise, and his buddies 36 years later as they train the newest Top Gun graduates for a special mission. Hamm plays Vice Admiral Cyclone, a new character that butts heads with the older, only slightly wiser Maverick.

"If my eighth-grade self could talk to my now self, both of us would not be computing that this is happening," Hamm told Geist regarding his chance to star in the sequel of the iconic 1986 movie.

Willie Geist and Jon Hamm talk while filming the Sunday Sitdown.
Willie Geist and Jon Hamm talk while filming the Sunday Sitdown. Nathan Congleton / NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

"It was a no-brainer for me," Hamm said about taking the role. "I was just like, 'Are you kidding? Yes.' I don’t care what the part is. I would be in craft service on this thing if I could."

But when Hamm was given a "cool call sign" and found himself alongside Cruise in wardrobe, his mind was truly blown.

"I was like, this is amazing,” he told Geist.

The actor said that Cruise was extremely welcoming on the set.

"I’ll never forget my first day on set, there’s Tom Cruise and he says 'Hey,' comes up, gives me a big hug and says, 'It’s so good to have you here.'"

When Hamm asked Cruise what it was like reprising his classic role more than 30 years later, he got a revealing answer.

"I was like, 'This has to be an out-of-body experience for you. You are in the same wardrobe on the same set and it’s 30 years later.' He goes, 'I feel like I’m at home. And I was like, 'Of course you do.'"

 "It’s a rare thing to be in the presence of a guy like that," Hamm said of Cruise, describing the actor's "movie star energy" as "infectious" and "fun."

Jon Hamm reflects on making "Top Gun: Maverick."
Jon Hamm reflects on making "Top Gun: Maverick."Nathan Congleton / NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

While Hamm got to stay on solid ground for his role, he was amazed by the fighter plane scenes and the levels that some actors went to, both literally and figuratively, to make the movie.

"That’s no joke, that’s no CGI. It’s real," he said of the exhilarating scenes. "And those guys and girls all had to go through pretty much fighter pilot training, they’re in G-suits, they’re experience g-LOC, loss of consciousness. It’s exciting, your pulse immediately starts ramping up when you see it."

That, along with the fact that the movie's release date was pushed back, has created intense anticipation for the film.

"It was meant to come out in 2020," said Hamm. "Obviously, the world stopped. But the idea was, this needs to be seen big and loud and on a big screen and to blow your hair back."

Hamm is also slated to take on the iconic role of "Fletch" in upcoming sequel to the 1985 Chevy Chase movie alongside his "Mad Men" costar, John Slattery.

It's been 15 years since Hamm first played the role of Don Draper on "Mad Men," but for now he's only looking forward.    

 "I’ve been so lucky," he said. "I’d just like to keep my head on a swivel and my eyes open and be aware when those opportunities come my way that I don't mess up."