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Jay Ellis Calls ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Costar Tom Cruise a ‘Gracious’ Mentor Before Oscars Absence: ‘He’s Too Kind’ (Exclusive)

Bonded for life! While celebrating Top Gun: Maverick‘s success at the 2023 Oscars, Jay Ellis reflected on the time he got to spend with costar Tom Cruise.

Related: 'Top Gun: Maverick' Hunks Hit Oscars Red Carpet

“He’s too kind. [Actually] not kind enough. Tom, sorry, you can give me more,” Ellis, 41, joked exclusively with Us Weekly at the Academy Awards on Sunday, March 13. “He’s really kind. He’s very gracious with his time, which I think is one of the most amazing things.”

jay ellis tom cruise oscars 2023
Jay Ellis and Tom Cruise. Shutterstock (2)

The Insecure alum continued: “If you text him, he’s like, ‘I’m gonna call you.’ Like, he will call you and speak to you for 30 [to] 50 minutes about a text and go through all these different things and scenarios. He’s just amazing [as] a mentor, a friend, a filmmaker, an acting coach, all of the above.”

Ellis, who starred alongside Cruise, 60, in the 2022 sequel to the 1986 action-drama film, noted that it was a dream come true project.

“I’ve seen every single Tom Cruise movie. Most of them two or three times,” he continued. “To know that I got the opportunity to spend 10 months working with him on a movie and another however many months putting it out in the world and going on this press tour. It’s crazy. It’s absolutely bonkers.”

Related: Everything the 'Top Gun: Maverick' Cast and Crew Have Said About a Sequel

The South Carolina native told Us that it felt “great” getting to join his costars — including Jennifer Connelly, Miles Teller, Lewis Pullman and Monica Barbaro — at the Oscars to honor the movie. (Top Gun: Maverick scored six nominations and ultimately won for Best Sound.)

“Listen, this is absolutely amazing to be a part of a film that’s being recognized with so many other amazing films. This journey has been crazy,” Ellis, who played Lieutenant Reuben “Payback” Fitch, shared with Us. “For four years, to have done this thing and been waiting for it to come out and now full circle be here with the Academy. Honoring this film or recognizing this film, it’s more than I could have ever imagined. More than any of us could have ever dreamed of.”

Noticeably missing from the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles were Cruise and Glen Powell. Cruise, for his part, was not in attendance due to prior work commitments. Us confirmed on Sunday that the actor is filming Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part II overseas and producer Jerry Bruckheimer was there to accept any possible wins for Top Gun: Maverick.

Related: Best — and Hottest! — Behind-the-Scenes Photos From ‘Top Gun: Maverick’

Powell, meanwhile, announced via Instagram that he would not be able to attend the Oscars. The Scream Queens alum, 34, is currently filming a romantic comedy opposite Sydney Sweeney.

Fans were in for a surprise, however, when Lady Gaga performed the film’s theme song “Hold My Hand” after it was originally announced that she would not be able to attend.

“I wrote this song with my friend BloodPop for the film Top Gun: Maverick in my studio basement. It’s deeply personal for me and I think that we all need each other,” the singer, 36, said before delivering a stunning performance on stage. “We need a lot of love to walk through this life and we all need a hero. Sometimes there’s heroes all around us in unassuming places. But you might find that you can be your own hero — even if you feel broken inside.”

With reporting by Hannah Kahn

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