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SAN DIEGO – The star of the long-awaited “Top Gun” sequel credits pop icon Lady Gaga for opening the doors to “the emotional core” of the film.

In an interview Tuesday, Tom Cruise told “The Late Late Show’s” James Corden that Gaga helped compose the score of “Top Gun: Maverick” and contributed much to it with the addition of her new song, “Hold My Hand.” Gaga debuted the song this week ahead of when the movie drops in theaters this month.

Cruise, 59, said the song was presented to him and composer Hans Zimmer at a time when the sequel was searching for the right sound but hadn’t quite found it yet.

“It’s like that moment when things just came together in such a beautiful way,” Cruise said to Corden. “Her song that she’d written just fell right in and became really the underlying score and the heartbeat of our film. She’s amazing.”

That’s certain to be welcome news to San Diegans who continue to have fond feelings for the 1986 blockbuster that was shot on location at spots around the community. Like the first one, “Top Gun: Maverick” features San Diego-area locales with Cruise’s co-star and “Mad Men” alum Jon Hamm saying this week it predominantly was shot at Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado.

The release has been years in the making, originally slated for mid-2019 and delayed several times due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors.

It returns with a couple of names moviegoers will recall from the first “Top Gun,” including Cruise and Val Kilmer. Actor Miles Teller joins the cast as Lt. Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw, the son of Anthony Edwards’ “Goose,” who dies in the original “Top Gun.”

Although Gaga is new to the “Top Gun” universe, her resume only has deepened in recent years with hit movie and TV roles, including her work on “A Star Is Born,” which netted her an Academy Award.

“Top Gun: Maverick” director Joseph Kosinski told Insider this week that it was “nerve-racking” to hear “Hold My Hand” for the first time because he was concerned about possibly turning down Gaga.

Once he heard it though, Kosinski said it was “a classic melody” and “fantastic.”

“When Hans heard it he was like, ‘I can use this as a theme for the movie,'” Kosinski was quoted as saying to Insider.

Speaking to Corden, Cruise called Gaga’s talent “boundless.”

“You’ll love the music in this movie,” he said.

“Top Gun: Maverick” is in theaters everywhere May 27. If you’d like to hear Gaga’s new ballad before then, click or tap here.