One of the first things I mentioned to Jay Ellis when I spoke to him about Top Gun: Maverick is that every role he has had over the last ten years has been iconic to the point when he walks on the street, that is what people call him.
From being Bryce “Blueprint” Westbrook on “THE GAME” for three seasons to recently being the talk of social media for his role of Lawrence on “Insecure.” I asked him what about his character Payback in Top Gun: Maverick that he hopes will become iconic.
“Payback is very outspoken and flamboyant, when he comes on the screen you notice him. I hope people pick up on that energy because I had a blast playing the role and I hope people now will be yelling hey Payback when they see me on the street, Ellis said”.
It is a big deal any time you are in a Tom Cruise movie. I think people want to know what those types of stars are really like behind the scene, and Ellis gave us a tidbit that many people don’t know. Cruise loves to tell stories.
“The first time I met him was able a table read and I am like this is really Tom Cruise then we are on set and Tom is just telling us these amazing stories about movies he did 30 years ago and I am just shaking my head like I am really in a movie with Tom Cruise. He is hands-on just helping people and really wanting to make sure he puts out a good movie. He is a total professional I felt like I learned a lot by working with him.”
One of the perks of being in a Top Gun movie is being in the fighter jets. Ellis mentioned he wants to get his pilot license now but also realizing when it is just the two of you in the air, you are responsible for the other person’s life.
“The wild thing is it is like being in a go cart. It is just the two of you, if something goes wrong you are responsible for landing the jet. It was an amazing and terrifying experience at the same time.”
With a diverse skill set and resume, JAY ELLIS (Lt. Reuben “Payback” Fitch) has quickly become one of Hollywood’s most in-demand multi-hyphenates. He will next be seen opposite Tom Cruise in the highly anticipated film, Top Gun: Maverick, which will be released globally on May 27th. Ellis also recently wrapped production on the Amazon feature Somebody I Used to Know directed by Dave Franco. On television, Ellis appeared as the fan-favorite ‘Lawrence’ on HBO’s critically acclaimed and Emmy-nominated comedy series, “Insecure,” created by Issa Rae and Larry Wilmore. In 2018, he won the NAACP Image Award in the category of Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for his work on the show. He also made his directorial debut with the season 4 episode, “Lowkey Trippin.”
Ellis’s other television credits include FX’s Emmy-nominated limited series, “Mrs. America,” a starring role on the hit BET series “The Game” from 2013-2015, and roles on “Masters of Sex,” “Grace & Francie,” “How I Met Your Mother,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “NCIS: Los Angeles.”
As a producer, Ellis recently completed production on the feature film Black Box for Amazon with Blumhouse Productions under his production company banner Black Bar Mitzvah, which is also in development on feature films at Sony, Netflix, Endeavor Content as well as television shows with HBO, Hulu/FX, MGM, and more. Other film credits include Escape Room, A Girl, A Boy, A Dream, which premiered at the 2018 Sundance International Film Festival.
He also serves on the board of Inside Out Writers, an L.A. non-profit that teaches creative writing classes in juvenile halls throughout Los Angeles County as well as amFAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, is dedicated to ending the global AIDS epidemic through innovative research.
TOP GUN: Maverick was released worldwide on May 24th, and the critics and fans are LOVING it.