Kelly McGillis Says She's 'Old,' 'Fat' And OK Being Left Out Of 'Top Gun' Sequel

Ron Dicker

General Assignment Reporter, HuffPost

Kelly McGillis , who played Tom Cruise’s love interest in the original “Top Gun” movie, said she was not asked to return for the upcoming “Top Gun: Maverick” sequel.

And she didn’t mince words explaining why she thinks that is.

Asked by “Entertainment Tonight” recently if the makers of the “Top Gun” sequel offered her a part, McGillis, 62, replied, “Oh my god no. They did not, nor do I think they would ever. I’m old and I’m fat, and I look age-appropriate for what my age is, and that is not what that whole scene is about.”

McGillis played Tom Cruise’s love interest, astrophysicist and training school instructor Charlie Blackwood in the 1986 original about cocky Navy fighter pilots. Jennifer Connelly has been cast as the new movie’s love interest of Maverick, played by Cruise, 57. “Top Gun: Maverick” also brings back Val Kilmer, 59, as Maverick’s rival Iceman.

McGillis didn’t appear to feel slighted by the snub.

“I’d much rather feel absolutely secure in my skin and who and what I am at my age, as opposed to placing a value on all that other stuff,” McGillis told “ET.”

McGillis said she’s not feeling the need for speed to go watch “Top Gun: Maverick,” scheduled to open in 2020.

“I’m not racing to the theater, and I’m not racing away from the theater to see it,” she said.

Kelly McGillis, pictured in 2014, said, “I’d much rather feel absolutely secure in my skin and who and what I am at my age."

HuffPost has reached out to a Paramount rep for comment.

Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis on the set of "Top Gun" in 1986.

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What Tom Cruise And Kelly McGillis' Relationship Was Like On The Set Of Top Gun

Tom Cruise smiling

Tom Cruise charmed his way into the hearts of many after he starred as Maverick in the 1986 film, "Top Gun." In the movie, the daring and adventurous bad boy sparked a relationship with one of his teachers, played by Kelly McGillis . The chemistry between the two radiated off the screen as their steamy romance had people convinced the two were a real-life couple.

Many even questioned the status of their relationship years after the movie was released. McGillis shared that she constantly interacts with "Top Gun" fans asking where Cruise is. She told The Guardian , "They come in asking, 'Where's Tom?' And I say, 'I don't know. I guess he's somewhere else.' And they say, 'Well, aren't you married?' I mean, these are adults, for Christ's sake. I have to say to them, 'That was a movie – it was fake.'" Clearly, their on-screen chemistry was out of this world, but was their relationship as strong off-screen? Apparently so.

McGillis has detailed how close the entire cast was and compared the experience to "being at camp," per Movie Talk (via Yahoo ). She said, "Well, we had a lot of partying going on after work. You can imagine -– yeah we just all hung out together and went to the driving range and did things...We just had a good time." And as for her relationship with Cruise, the actor has continuously shared how amazing the "Mission Impossible" actor was on set.

Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis' relationship soared

There have been plenty of instances where actors were totally repulsed by their co-stars , but Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis did not have that problem. Instead, their friendship soared on-set and on film, and McGillis would be the first to admit it. The actor has gushed about her "Top Gun" co-star on several occasions. In her interview with Movie Talk, she shared, "I think Tom is terrific. He's the sweetest guy. He is very genuine and sincere and respectful. And I just loved working with Tom. I think he is wonderful."

Cruise was even a part of some of McGillis' highlights on the set, especially when filming got frustrating. She told Entertainment Tonight , "We had to get this one shot by an airplane and it was at golden hour, and I remember going back to that friggin' tarmac about 120 times (laughs)...So I do remember that and I just remember working with Tom — he's such a kind and generous and respectful person, he was just lovely to work with."

While they didn't fight like their iconic scene in the film, some fans thought that the romantic plot line between Cruise and McGillis was unnecessary. Even though the "Mission Impossible" actor once agreed, in an interview with  Roger Ebert , the star noted that he never blamed McGillis herself. Cruise only praised his co-star, calling her a "fantastic actor." Their friendship was stronger than ever on-set, but with the latest sequel, things might have changed.

Kelly McGillis wasn't asked to be in Top Gun: Maverick

You are truly a rarity if you are one of the few individuals who has not seen "Top Gun: Maverick." The sequel to the original 1986 film, "Top Gun," was a smash hit , despite it missing an important character. Fans of the original movie will notice that Kelly McGillis did not return as Tom Cruise's love interest in the sequel. Instead, she was replaced by Jennifer Connelly, who played Penny Benjamin and was briefly mentioned in the first film.

According to Insider , the director of the sequel, Joseph Kosinski, never considered bringing back McGillis. He shared, "Those weren't stories that we were throwing around. I didn't want every storyline to always be looking backwards. It was important to introduce some new characters." But, McGillis isn't convinced. The "Top Gun" actor revealed to Entertainment Tonight  that she thinks she wasn't asked to return because of her looks. She said, "I'm old and I'm fat, and I look age-appropriate for what my age is. And that is not what that whole scene is about."

Not only did McGillis lose her iconic role in the sequel, but she also lost her friendship with Cruise. When asked if she keeps in touch with anyone from the film, she revealed, "Movies are odd things. I don't really keep in touch with anybody. I think I've spoken to a couple of people occasionally, but the truth is, movies are very odd work situations..."

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Why Tom Cruise's Love Interest in "Top Gun: Maverick" Looks Different

TOP GUN: MAVERICK, (aka TOP GUN 2), Jennifer Connelly, 2022.  ph: Scott Garfield / Paramount Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

"Top Gun: Maverick" is packed with nostalgia and callbacks to the original 1986 movie, including some legacy characters and familiar scenes. One thing viewers have noticed has changed, however, is who plays the love interest to Tom Cruise's Pete "Maverick" Mitchell. The sequel — which was nominated for six Academy Awards — sees Maverick, now decades into his career, wooing a bar owner (and daughter of an admiral) named Penny Benjamin. Here's what to know about Maverick's love interest.

Is Penny Benjamin in the Original "Top Gun"?

Penny, played by Jennifer Connelly, is not physically in the first "Top Gun" movie, but she does exist in it, though only mentioned in passing. She is never actually seen on screen.

In one scene, Maverick's past exploits are said to include "a history of high-speed passes over five air-control towers and one admiral's daughter," and Maverick's BFF Goose mutters Penny's name under his breath — making her the "admiral's daughter" in question. That's later confirmed when Goose's wife, Carole, teases Maverick about his romantic history, telling her that Goose "told me all about the time you went ballistic with Penny Benjamin."

While she never appears in person in the first "Top Gun," Penny becomes a major character in the sequel . Now played by Connelly, Penny owns a bar that is the downtime destination of choice for the TOPGUN crew. She's less than thrilled when Maverick shows up again, and their dialogue definitely implies that they've had a bit of an on-and-off romance throughout the years between the two movies.

"It started the first time when they were quite young. And you get the sense that they sort of come together, they have this sort of fiery romance, and then it falls apart," Connelly described in a 2022 interview with FilmIsNow . "But then they keep coming back to each other." She echoed those sentiments in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter . "I think that they had a few flings that didn't pan out particularly well in the years between," she said. "We talked about their backstory and what that history might have been."

The actor also recalled being 15 years old when the first movie came out. "I don't remember the exact moment, to be honest with you, but I remember the flying, Tom on his motorcycle with the aviators, and what a charismatic character he had created," said Connelly. "And of course, I remember the songs that got stuck in my head and never left."

Why Isn't Kelly McGillis's Charlie Blackwood in "Top Gun: Maverick"?

TOP GUN, from left: Kelly McGillis, Tom Cruise, 1986. ph:  Paramount / courtesy Everett Collection

In the first "Top Gun," Maverick's love interest is Charlie Blackwood, an astrophysicist who crosses paths with him at the TOPGUN academy. Other cast members from the original "Top Gun" returned for "Top Gun: Maverick," like Val Kilmer , so what's behind this love-interest switcheroo?

Kelly McGillis played Charlie in "Top Gun," but when the sequel came around, according to her, she wasn't even asked to be part of the movie.

"They did not [invite me back], and nor do I think they would ever," she said back in 2019 when the first trailer for "Top Gun: Maverick" dropped and she was conspicuously absent. "I'm old and I'm fat and I look age-appropriate for what my age is, and that is not what that whole scene is about," she said. McGillis, who is now 66 years old, is almost exactly five years older than 61-year-old Cruise; Connelly is 52. McGillis had nothing but positive things to say about Connelly joining the cast, however, saying she's "so glad [Connelly] got that opportunity."

In contrast, director Joseph Kosinski said that bringing back Charlie simply wasn't in line with the story they were looking to tell in the sequel. "I didn't want every storyline to always be looking backwards," Kosinski previously told Insider . "It was important to introduce some new characters." This meant excluding some characters from the original, including McGillis as Charlie and Meg Ryan as Carole Bradshaw.

  • Jennifer Connelly
  • Casting News
  • Top Gun: Maverick

Who played Tom Cruiseʼs girlfriend in Top Gun?

The actress Kelly McGillis played Tom Cruise’s girlfriend in Top Gun.

Who is the actress that played Tom Cruise’s love interest in Top Gun?

Kelly McGillis played the role of Tom Cruise’s girlfriend in the movie.

Bulk Ammo for Sale at Lucky Gunner

How old was Kelly McGillis when she starred in Top Gun?

Kelly McGillis was 28 years old when she starred in Top Gun.

Did Kelly McGillis and Tom Cruise date in real life?

No, Kelly McGillis and Tom Cruise did not date in real life.

What other movies has Kelly McGillis starred in?

Kelly McGillis has also starred in Witness and The Accused.

Is Kelly McGillis still acting?

Yes, Kelly McGillis still acts, although she has taken on fewer roles in recent years.

What happened to Kelly McGillis after Top Gun?

Kelly McGillis continued to act in various films and TV shows after Top Gun, but she never quite reached the same level of fame as she did with that movie.

Was Kelly McGillis nominated for any awards for her role in Top Gun?

No, Kelly McGillis was not nominated for any major awards for her role in Top Gun.

Did Kelly McGillis and Tom Cruise get along during the filming of Top Gun?

Yes, Kelly McGillis and Tom Cruise got along well during the filming of Top Gun.

Who played Tom Cruise’s rival in Top Gun?

Val Kilmer played Tom Cruise’s rival in Top Gun.

What year was Top Gun released?

Top Gun was released in 1986.

Did Top Gun win any Oscars?

Yes, Top Gun won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Take My Breath Away.”

Is there a sequel to Top Gun?

Yes, a sequel titled “Top Gun: Maverick” is set to be released in 2022.

Where was Top Gun filmed?

Top Gun was filmed in various locations including San Diego, California, and the USS Enterprise aircraft carrier.

Is there a Top Gun ride at any theme parks?

Yes, there is a Top Gun-themed roller coaster at Carowinds amusement park in North Carolina.

What type of aircraft is featured in Top Gun?

The movie features the F-14 Tomcat fighter jet.

Why did Kelly McGillis stop acting?

Kelly McGillis took a break from acting to focus on her personal life and other interests.

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Meet the Real-Life Badass Who Inspired 'Top Gun' Love Interest

Kelly McGillis and Tom Cruise on poster for ‘Top Gun’ (Paramount)

The poster for 1986’s Top Gun (which celebrates its 30th anniversary on Monday) shows the film’s upstart fighter pilot Maverick (Tom Cruise) being embraced by his flight school instructor and love interest Charlie (Kelly McGillis). Maverick may be the hero of the film, but only Charlie was based on a real-life hero: Christine Fox, a tactical advisor for the Navy who became the highest-ranking woman ever to work at the Pentagon.

Here’s how a fictional version of Fox entered the highest-grossing picture of 1986. When production began on the Tony Scott-directed film, about an elite academy for fighter pilots, producers spent time at the actual Naval Fighter Weapons School (nicknamed “TOPGUN”) and consulted on the script with U.S. military officials. According to a 1985 People magazine story , producers originally intended for Maverick’s love interest to be a gymnast or “groupie.” But Kelly McGillis, hot off her Golden Globe-nominated role in Witness, wanted the character to have more authority. During a meeting with producers, Admiral Tom Cassidy (who has a cameo in the film) strategically called Fox into the room, and Charlie’s occupation suddenly came into focus.

Christine Fox in her official Department of Defense portrait (Dept. of Defense)

Like the Top Gun character she inspired, Fox was an attractive blonde, 6 feet tall (Cruise wore high-heeled cowboy boots to match McGillis’s height in love scenes), and the only woman in the halls of an elite military center. A civilian employee with a master’s degree in applied mathematics, she developed tactics for aircraft carrier defense at the Center for Naval Analyses, across the street from TOPGUN. Her brilliance in a traditionally male field inspired such backhanded compliments as this one, from a commanding officer to People : “She’s the smartest woman I’ve ever met. I like women for a lot of things and being smart isn’t usually one of them.” (“I make fun of them for being macho creeps sometimes,” Fox told the magazine of her interactions with aviators.)

Unlike her onscreen alter ego, Fox made a point of never dating pilots (as the People article took pains to point out). She also, presumably, didn’t inspire strains of “Take My Breath Away” to play whenever she walked into a room. And she wasn’t so happy about the ultra-sexualized version of her job that appeared in the movie. Speaking to NPR in 2013, Fox said of her Top Gun participation, “The truth is I had no choice in it and I wasn’t thrilled.” She added that McGillis fought, unsuccessfully, for more accuracy in the role, confronting producers about details like the black-seamed stockings in Charlie’s wardrobe. “She said, ‘I’ll bet you would never wear these to work here!’… She was on my side,” Fox told NPR.

Ultimately, Top Gun became just a minor footnote in Fox’s career. In 2009, she was employed by the Department of Defense as a budget strategist. Within five years, Fox was promoted to acting deputy secretary of defense, the No. 2 position at the Pentagon and the highest ever held by a woman. “She’s among the Pentagon’s most brilliant strategic thinkers, and, having broken many barriers, she serves as a role model for women throughout the national security and foreign policy arena,” Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel wrote in 2013 . Fox retired from that position in 2014 and now continues to advise on national security as the assistant director of policy and analysis at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. Sure, complex mathematics and strategy aren’t as celluloid-friendly as dogfights and shirtless volleyball games. But even if Fox’s real-life achievements are excluded from the upcoming Top Gun sequel, they’re enough to take your breath away.

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Yes, Tim Robbins Was In Top Gun — Why He Didn't Return For Maverick

10 mcu roles that were perfectly cast (& the actors who almost played them), why fredo betrayed michael in the godfather part ii.

The Top Gun cast contains some of the biggest stars of the 1980s, including a few who remain on the A-list many decades later. The Tony Scott-helmed action drama revolves around LT Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, a renegade fighter pilot who butts heads with his instructors at the titular U.S. Navy program. Maverick is surrounded by his fellow pilots, his instructors, and the military bureaucrats who try and fail to keep him in line. The Top Gun cast includes contemporary icons like Kelly McGillis and world-renowned movie stars whose fame has lasted, like Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer.

While it received mixed reviews upon its initial release, Top Gun struck a chord with audiences and became a huge box office smash. Top Gun was the biggest box office hit of 1986 and has since been reappraised as an action movie classic, even being selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. A big part of Top Gun ’s crowd-pleasing appeal is the committed work of its actors. From its major stars to its scene-stealing supporting players, the Top Gun cast has remained iconic and revered in the decades that followed.

RELATED: 25 Best Top Gun Quotes

Tom Cruise As LT Pete “Maverick” Mitchell

Tom Cruise leads the Top Gun cast as LT Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, the roguish, charismatic U.S. Navy pilot at the center of the movie. Cruise later reprised the role in the sequel, Top Gun: Maverick . Cruise got his breakout with the classic 1980s comedy Risky Business and went on to impress critics with his dramatic abilities in The Color of Money , Rain Man , and Born on the Fourth of July . The latter earned Cruise an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. He is best known for starring as IMF agent Ethan Hunt in the long-running Mission: Impossible franchise .

Kelly McGillis As Charlie Blackwood

Maverick’s love interest, Top Gun instructor Charlie Blackwood, is played by Kelly McGillis. Outsider her role in the Top Gun cast, the actress is best known for playing Rachel Lapp, the Amish widow who hides Harrison Ford’s Detective John Book when he’s targeted by crooked cops in the acclaimed thriller Witness , which earned her Golden Globe and BAFTA Film Award nominations. She also played Kathryn Murphy, the attorney who helps Jodie Foster’s Sarah Tobias prosecute her attackers in The Accused . Later in her career, McGillis took roles in horror films like Stake Land , The Innkeepers , and We Are What We Are .

Anthony Edwards As LTJG Nick “Goose” Bradshaw

Anthony Edwards appears in the Top Gun cast as LTJG Nick “Goose” Bradshaw, Maverick’s radar intercept officer and best friend. Edwards is most renowned for playing the now-deceased Dr. Mark Greene in ER , which earned him a Golden Globe, six SAG Awards, and four consecutive Emmy nominations. He also played Inspector William Armstrong in Zodiac and the recurring role of Mike Monroe in Northern Exposure . In 2022, Edwards appeared in two of the year’s most widely praised limited series; he played Alan Reed in Inventing Anna and Bruce Dunlevie in WeCrashed .

Val Kilmer As LT Tom “Iceman” Kazansky

Top Gun student LT Tom “Iceman” Kazansky, Maverick’s rival and later his wingman, is played by Val Kilmer. The actor reprised the role for a brief but poignant cameo appearance in Top Gun: Maverick . Kilmer has starred in a wide variety of movies, from the absurdist spoof Top Secret! to the action-packed neo-noir epic Heat to the fantasy adventure Willow . He earned widespread acclaim for his portrayal of Jim Morrison in the music biopic The Doors . He took over as Bruce Wayne in Batman Forever after Michael Keaton quit the Batman role , and he played Doc Holliday opposite Kurt Russell’s Wyatt Earp in Tombstone .

RELATED: Goose's Death In Top Gun Isn't Maverick's Fault, It's Iceman's

Tom Skerritt As CDR Mike “Viper” Metcalf

Tom Skerritt appears in the Top Gun cast as CDR Mike “Viper” Metcalf, Maverick’s commanding officer and instructor at Top Gun. Viper served alongside Maverick’s father, Duke Mitchell, in the Vietnam War. Skerritt was already an established star before taking the role of Viper in Top Gun . He’d played Duke Forrest in Robert Altman’s original movie version of M*A*S*H , and Dallas, the captain of the doomed space freighter Nostromo, in Ridley Scott’s sci-fi horror masterpiece Alien . He went on to play Drum Eatenton in Herbert Ross’s tearjerking adaptation of Steel Magnolias .

Meg Ryan As Carole Bradshaw

Carole Bradshaw, Goose’s loving wife and mother of his son, Bradley, is played by Meg Ryan. The actress got her start on the soap opera As the World Turns before appearing in Top Gun . She rose to fame with her leading role opposite Billy Crystal in the seminal romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally , for which she scored a Golden Globe nomination. She starred alongside her Top Gun co-star Val Kilmer in The Doors and opposite Hugh Jackman in Kate & Leopold . She also famously teamed up with frequent collaborators Tom Hanks and Nora Ephron for the classic romcoms Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail .

Top Gun Supporting Cast & Characters

Michael Ironside as LCDR Rick “Jester” Heatherly: LCDR Rick “Jester” Heatherly, a Naval aviator and Top Gun instructor, is played by Michael Ironside. The actor is best known for playing villainous roles like Darryl Revok in Scanners and Agent Richter in Total Recall . But he has also played sympathetic roles, like Jester in Top Gun and teacher-turned-squad leader Jean Rasczak in Starship Troopers .

James Tolkan as CDR Tom “Stinger” Jardian: The commander of the USS Enterprise Carrier Air Group, CDR Tom “Stinger” Jardian, is played by James Tolkan. The actor is most famous for his roles as Marty McFly’s authoritarian teacher Mr. Strickland and his Western-era ancestor Marshal Strickland in the Back to the Future trilogy.

RELATED: How The Original Top Gun Movie's Jet Fighter Scenes Were Filmed

John Stockwell as LT Bill “Cougar” Cortell: John Stockwell appears in the Top Gun cast as LT Bill “Cougar” Cortell, Maverick’s former wingman. Stockwell previously played Arnie’s best friend, Dennis Guilder, in the Stephen King adaptation Christine . He later became a director with such films as the teen drama Crazy/Beautiful and the action thriller Into the Blue .

Tim Robbins as LTJG Sam “Merlin” Wells: LTJG Sam “Merlin” Wells, Cougar’s radar intercept officer — and later Maverick’s during the climactic set-piece — is played by Tim Robbins. The actor went on to become a star in his own right, playing lead roles like Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption and Dave Boyle in Mystic River , which earned him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Clarence Gilyard as LTJG Marcus “Sundown” Williams: LTJG Marcus “Sundown” Williams, Chipper’s radar intercept officer — and later Maverick’s near the end of training — is played by Clarence Gilyard in Top Gun . Gilyard also played private investigator Conrad McMasters in Matlock , Walker’s partner Jimmy Trivette in Walker, Texas Ranger , and Hans Gruber’s computer expert Theo in Die Hard .

MORE: Top Gun: Maverick New Cast & Returning Character Guide

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Everything Kelly McGillis Has Said About ‘Top Gun: Maverick,’ Jennifer Connelly as Tom Cruise’s New Love Interest

Everything Kelly McGillis Has Said About Top Gun Maverick

Alexa, play “Take My Breath Away.” While the nostalgia is overwhelming for Top Gun fans in the sequel, Top Gun: Maverick , not everything is the same for the title character 30 years after the original film.

In the second film, Tom Cruise ’s Pete “Maverick” Mitchell returns to train younger Top Gun graduates — including his late best friend Goose’s son, Rooster ( Miles Teller ) — for a special mission. Played by Anthony Edwards in 1986, Goose and wife Carole Bradshaw ( Meg Ryan ) appear in flashbacks in the 2022 movie.

Ryan wasn’t the only actor who wasn’t asked back for Top Gun: Maverick, however. Kelly McGillis — Maverick’s love interest, Charlie, in Top Gun — isn’t part of the second movie. Instead, the pilot reconnects with Penny Benjamin ( Jennifer Connelly ), who is referenced — but not seen — as the admiral’s daughter with a past with Maverick in the original film.

“[Goose] told me all about the time you went ballistic with Penny Benjamin,” Carole said to Goose, Maverick and Charlie in the 1986 movie.

While McGillis implied to Entertainment Tonight in 2019 (when production on Top Gun: Maverick was underway) that aging is why she wasn’t asked back, director Joseph Kosinski told Insider that McGillis and Ryan aren’t part of the sequel because of how their characters would impact the new stories.

“Those weren’t stories that we were throwing around. I didn’t want every story line to always be looking backwards. It was important to introduce some new characters,” Kosinski said in May 2022. “Penny Benjamin, a character we have heard mentioned but never seen before, that was an amazing opportunity to bring Jennifer Connelly’s character into this film.”

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Connelly, for her part, gushed about the “exceptional” Cruise in an interview with Variety ahead of Top Gun: Maverick’s May 27, 2022 release.

“Spending time with him, you understand how someone has been such a movie star for so many years. It was clear to me what the franchise means to him, so I felt beholden to him, [producer] Jerry Bruckheimer and the audiences who love the film so much,” Connelly said. “We focused on the intimacy of how they fit into each other’s lives. I think those characters have a really tender relationship, the way she understands him. They share a moment in bed chatting, and it tells as much about their relationship as the scene that is the preamble to that. Clearly, they have some unresolved business between them, and she navigates that with humor and playfulness. I feel like she’s someone who is positive and is moving toward happiness.”

Scroll through for more from McGillis on how she feels about being excluded from Top Gun: Maverick:

tom cruise girlfriend top gun 1986

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Everything Kelly McGillis Has Said About 'Top Gun: Maverick,' Jennifer Connelly as Tom Cruise's New Love Interest

Alexa, play “Take My Breath Away.” While the nostalgia is overwhelming for Top Gun fans in the sequel, Top Gun: Maverick , not everything is the same for the title character 30 years after the original film. In the second film, Tom Cruise ’s Pete “Maverick” Mitchell returns to train younger Top Gun graduates — including his late best friend Goose’s son, Rooster ( Miles Teller ) — for a special mission. Played by Anthony Edwards in 1986, Goose and wife Carole Bradshaw ( Meg Ryan ) appear in flashbacks in the 2022 movie. Ryan wasn’t the only actor who wasn’t asked back for Top Gun: Maverick, however. Kelly McGillis — Maverick’s love interest, Charlie, in Top Gun — isn’t part of the second movie. Instead, the pilot reconnects with Penny Benjamin ( Jennifer Connelly ), who is referenced — but not seen — as the admiral's daughter with a past with Maverick in the original film. “[Goose] told me all about the time you went ballistic with Penny Benjamin,” Carole said to Goose, Maverick and Charlie in the 1986 movie. While McGillis implied to Entertainment Tonight in 2019 (when production on Top Gun: Maverick was underway) that aging is why she wasn’t asked back, director Joseph Kosinski told Insider that McGillis and Ryan aren’t part of the sequel because of how their characters would impact the new stories. [sendtonews type="float" key="it7rpNVhFW-3117344-14453"] “Those weren’t stories that we were throwing around. I didn’t want every story line to always be looking backwards. It was important to introduce some new characters,” Kosinski said in May 2022. “Penny Benjamin, a character we have heard mentioned but never seen before, that was an amazing opportunity to bring Jennifer Connelly’s character into this film.” Connelly, for her part, gushed about the “exceptional” Cruise in an interview with Variety ahead of Top Gun: Maverick’s May 27, 2022 release. “Spending time with him, you understand how someone has been such a movie star for so many years. It was clear to me what the franchise means to him, so I felt beholden to him, [producer] Jerry Bruckheimer and the audiences who love the film so much,” Connelly said. “We focused on the intimacy of how they fit into each other’s lives. I think those characters have a really tender relationship, the way she understands him. They share a moment in bed chatting, and it tells as much about their relationship as the scene that is the preamble to that. Clearly, they have some unresolved business between them, and she navigates that with humor and playfulness. I feel like she’s someone who is positive and is moving toward happiness.” Scroll through for more from McGillis on how she feels about being excluded from Top Gun: Maverick:

tom cruise girlfriend top gun 1986

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Why Wasn’t Kelly McGillis Asked to Return for 'Top Gun: Maverick'?

“I’m old, and I’m fat, and I look age-appropriate for what my age is,” McGillis told Entertainment Tonight in 2019. “And that is not what that whole scene is about. To me, I’d much rather feel absolutely in my skin and who I am at my age as opposed to placing a value on all that other stuff.”

tom cruise girlfriend top gun 1986

Credit: Paramount/Kobal/Shutterstock

Does Kelly McGillis in Touch With the ‘Top Gun’ Cast?

"Movies are odd things. I don't really keep in touch with anybody," the actress told ET in 2019, noting she hadn’t watched the trailer at that point. "I think I've spoken to a couple of people occasionally, but the truth is, movies are very odd work situations because you have a lot of people who come together from all different parts of the world."

tom cruise girlfriend top gun 1986

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How Does Kelly McGillis Feel About Jennifer Connelly Taking Over?

"I'm glad for her," McGillis said of Connelly.

tom cruise girlfriend top gun 1986

Credit: Stephen Vaughan/Paramount/Kobal/Shutterstock

Where Is Kelly McGillis Now?

The actress most recently appeared on screen in the 2018 TV movie Maternal Secrets , telling ET that she made the choice to step back from Hollywood.

"I think just my priorities in life changed," she said. "It wasn't like a major decision that I made to leave, it was just that other things became more important. I love acting, I love what I do, I love doing theater, but I don't know. To me, my relationships to other people became far more important than my relationship to fame."

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‘Top Gun’ 1986 Cast Then and Now: See Maverick, Goose, Iceman and More!

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Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis, 'Top Gun', 1986

While the 2022 Top Gun sequel Top Gun: Maverick took the nation by storm (it’s hard to forget the “summer of the ‘stache,” courtesy of Miles Teller ‘s character “Rooster”), there’s something about the original film that scratches a certain itch in our brain — and the Top Gun 1986 cast has changed quite a bit between then and now!

So what was it that made this film so iconic? Could it be a young and dreamy Tom Cruise ? That iconic rendition of Jerry Lee Lewis’ “ Great Balls of Fire “? Or just good old fashioned 80s nostalgia that we simply can’t get enough of?

Whatever it might be, Top Gun 1986 is a film and a cast we can’t forget. And if two installments of the film wasn’t enough, it’s been reported that Cruise will return for a third film in the series.

Val Kilmer and Tom Cruise, Top Gun, 1986

For Tom Cruise, having the second film honor the original was crucial — and stepping back into the role so many years later was a unique experience.

“ There were many emotional moments ,” Cruise told Beverly Hills Magazine . “Sitting down with the actors, figuring out the character and talking about it. The actors are looking at me going, ‘What’s it like for you to come back?’ and I’m looking at them and looking at this — it was emotional. And it was something that, look, I’m very grateful because it’s not easy to try to figure out for an audience and deliver. Because I want to deliver for them. I love entertaining an audience and I love learning and pushing all of my skills as a storyteller and an actor,” he said.

What is Top Gun about?

Tom Cruise, Top Gun, 1986

Top Gun follows Tom Cruise as the reckless and cocky fighter pilot Maverick, who gets sent to Top Gun Naval Fighter Weapons School. It’s there where he shows off his skills while simultaneously managing to clash with his peers and superiors, who don’t agree with his sometimes selfish approach to flying. All the while, he finds himself smitten with his flight instructor.

Top Gun cast then and now

Tom cruise as maverick.

Tom Cruise in 1986 and 2023

Tom Cruise starred in Top Gun in the midst of his 80s success. The decade gave us flicks like Risky Business (1983), Top Gun (1986) and Rain Man (1988) to name a few. After Top Gun and his decade of on-screen accomplishments, Cruise’s career only propelled. Throughout the 90s, Cruise starred in some of his most revered roles, including A Few Good Men (1992), The Firm (1993), Mission: Impossible (1996), Jerry Maguire (1996) and Eyes Wide Shut in 1999 alongside his ex-wife Nicole Kidman .

Since then, Cruise has continued to act in some of the biggest blockbusters of the 2000s, including renowned movies like War of the Worlds (2005), Edge of Tomorrow (2014), and one of his more recently celebrated, Top Gun: Maverick . The Top Gun sequel was beloved, and Cruise thoroughly enjoyed reprising his role.

MUST-READ: Jennifer Connelly Movies: A Look at Her Eclectic Filmography — And Her Haunting New Show

“ It was now or never ,” Cruise told Beverly Hills Magazine of choosing to go forward with the sequel when they did. “And finally, the story came together and technically the things that I felt we could get to an audience, a global audience, was something that I thought, ‘OK, well, if we’re going to go in, we’re going to go in now.’”

Val Kilmer as Iceman in the Top Gun 1986 cast

Val Kilmer in 1986 and 2019

Val Kilmer played “Iceman,” Maverick’s rival in the original Top Gun film. After this role, Kilmer played Jim Morrison in The Doors (1991) and also acted in Batman Forever (1995), The Saint (1997), The Salton Sea (2002) and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005).

Kilmer was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2015 and since recovering has been seen in films such as Top Gun: Maverick (2022), The Birthday Cake (2021), Paydirt (2020) and more.

Kelly McGillis as Charlie

Kelly McGillis in 1986 and 2013

Kelly McGillis played the role of Charlie in the original Top Gun film, the love interest of Tom Cruise’s character. Notable movies that followed included 1988’s The Accused alongside Jodie Foster, and she continued acting consistently over the years in both film and TV. Her more recent roles have been in Dirty John in 2020, Maternal Secrets in 2018, An Uncommon Grace in 2017 and Blue in 2015.

Anthony Edwards as Goose in the Top Gun 1986 cast

Anthony Edwards in 1986 and 2023

“Talk to me Goose!” Anthony Edwards played the beloved role of Goose in the original Top Gun film, whose fictional death has fans mourning to this day. Yet Anthony Edward harnessed his big screen success in the film. After Top Gun , Edwards worked consistently in a wide range of movies and even some shows until 1994 when he was cast in the series ER as Mark Greene. He played this role into the 2000s, winning a Golden Globe for it in 1998.

Since then, he continued to appear in shows like Zero Hour, Girls, Blue Bloods, Billions, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Designated Survivor, Inventing Anna, WeCrashed, Tales of the Walking Dead and The Broadway Show with Tamsen Fadal.

Although his character died in the original film, Edwards was still featured in the Top Gun sequel in flashbacks, and Miles Teller played the character of his son.

“ It’s the biggest movie that I’m in that I never had to show up for a day of work, so it was fun,” he joked with Entertainment Tonight .

Related: Cast of ‘ER’ Then and Now: Catch Up With the Stars of the Iconic Medical Drama

Tom Skerritt as Viper in the Top Gun 1986 cast

Tom Skerritt in 1987 and 2022

Before Top Gun , Tom Skerritt had a very successful career in both film and television. After Top Gun, he continued expanding his resume. He went on to act in series such as Cheers, Picket Fences, Chicago Hope , and in more recent years, Madam Secretary, The Good Wife, White Collar and Leverage , to name a few.

He’s also done extensive film work as well, seen in moves such as Steel Magnolias (1989) and Contact (1997). The 90-year-old actor’s most recent work was in 2021’s Catch the Bullet .

Meg Ryan as Carole in the Top Gun 1986 cast

Meg Ryan in 1987 and 2024

Meg Ryan is another famous face to leave her mark in the original cast of Top Gun . Once she played her part as Goose’s wife, her career only soared. Her iconic 1989 role in When Harry Met Sally cemented her status as a certified leading lady, and parts only continued to come her way. She further found her footing in hits like Sleepless in Seattle (1993) and You’ve Got Mail (1998). Her most recent role was in What Happens Later (2023),

RELATED : The 10 Most Iconic Meg Ryan Rom-Com Movies, Ranked

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'Top Gun: Maverick' Cast & Character Guide: Who's Who in the Legacy Sequel

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Alright I’ll Bite, Who Is Lady Deadpool?

Meryl streep is at her most chaotic in this charming but forgotten rom-com, meryl streep & julia roberts led one of the most intense dinner scenes in cinema history.

Top Gun: Maverick is one of the biggest blockbusters since the 2020 pandemic. The film sees Pete "Maverick" Mitchell ( Tom Cruise ) return to the esteemed school, Top Gun, to lead a group of young aviators on a near-impossible mission. Seeing Tom Cruise return to Top Gun over 30 years later was a memorable sight. Top Gun: Maverick features familiar faces, new characters, and even appearances of characters who were only mentioned by name. This is a complete character guide for Top Gun: Maverick. Now that the biggest film of the year is available to stream exclusively on Paramount+, we’ve got you covered on who's who.

Related: When Will ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Be Available To Stream?

Tom Cruise as Capt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell

The main character of both Top Gun films is Maverick himself, Pete Mitchell, played by the legendary Tom Cruise. Maverick started as a loose cannon who marched at the beat of his own drum. After the death of his best friend, Goose ( Anthony Edwards ), Maverick learned to grow up and become one of the best aviators in the Navy. When we meet Maverick in the Top Gun sequel, he is still as stubborn as ever, but now he’s often fighting for others. Once he’s tasked with returning to Top Gun, Maverick’s number one priority is making sure the pilots return home from their mission with zero casualties.

Tom Cruise is one of the biggest stars on the planet. You can see him in Edge of Tomorrow , the Mission Impossible series, and American Made ; his upcoming films include Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning (Parts 1 and 2), with both Luna Park and Edge of Tomorrow 2 in development.

Val Kilmer as Adm. Tom "Iceman" Kazansky

Top Gun: Maverick went so far as to make Kilmer’s real-life battle with cancer a part of Iceman’s character. The Iceman graduated Top Gun alongside Maverick. The two didn’t see eye-to-eye at first, but they became best friends by the end of the first film. Val Kilmer delivers a terrific performance as Ice, and Top Gun: Maverick allowed the actor to return to the role. Kilmer had to retire from acting due to throat cancer so the film might be Kilmer’s last role, making it all the more touching.

Val Kilmer has a stellar filmography. Some of his most iconic work includes Tombstone , Kiss Kiss Bang Bang , and Heat . He’s also known for starring in Joel Schumacher’s cult classic, Batman Forever .

Miles Teller as Lt. Bradley "Rooster" Bradshaw

Miles Teller stars as Bradley "Rooster" Bradshaw. The son of Nick ‘Goose’ Bradshaw (Anthony Edwards) and Carole Bradshaw ( Meg Ryan ), Rooster and Maverick’s relationship is one of the film's most significant sources of tension. After the death of Goose in the first film, Maverick feels guilt but also a duty to take care of Carole and Bradley. This leads to friction between Bradley and Maverick since Carole doesn’t want Bradley to be an aviator and get killed like his father. As a favor to Carole, Maverick sets Rooster back three years.

This doesn’t stop Rooster, and he becomes a solid naval aviator. Good enough to be invited back to Top Gun, where Maverick confronts him. The two have a unique relationship, and Rooster is one of the standout characters. Miles Teller is best known for his performances in Whiplash , War Dogs , and Fantastic Four (2015). His most recent film is Spiderhead , and his upcoming projects are The Ark and the Aardvark , The Fence , and The Gorge where he'll star alongside Anya Taylor-Joy .

Jennifer Connelly as Penny Benjamin

Penny is a character that was referenced in the original Top Gun but didn’t make an appearance until Top Gun Maverick . Penny and Maverick have had an on-again-off-again relationship for years, and we see their latest encounter in Top Gun: Maverick . Penny has a daughter named Amelia and owns a bar near Top Gun. Jennifer Connelly brings Penny Benjamin to life. Penny and Mav rekindle their relationship during his time back, and hopefully, it will last. She might be Maverick’s oldest and closest friend, making their bond all the more important to him. Connelly’s notable works include A Beautiful Mind , Requiem For a Dream , and Labyrinth . Connelly will next be seen in Alice Englert 's feature directorial debut Bad Behavior , where she'll star opposite Ben Whishaw .

Lyliana Wray as Amelia Benjamin

Amelia Benjamin is Penny’s daughter. She loves her mother and has a good rapport with Maverick. With the stranger nature of Penny and Maverick’s relationship, Amelia simply wants what’s best for her mother. Lyliana Wray has guest-starred on Black-ish , The Night Shift , and Strange Angel .

Glen Powell as Lt. Jake "Hangman" Seresin

Lt. Jake Seresin is one of the best pilots in Top Gun, but he’s reckless and leaves his fellow aviators hanging, hence the name. Ironically, Hangman isn’t so different from Maverick during his first stint at Top Gun. In a way, Hangman and Rooster mirror Maverick and Iceman. Glen Powell ’s charisma is on full display as Hangman. The actor initially auditioned for the role of Rooster but later took on the part of Hangman after a conversation with Tom Cruise . Glen Powell previously starred in Set It Up , Scream Queens , and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society . He most recently starred in another aviation-themed film, Devotion , where he starred opposite Jonathan Majors . Powell's career has exploded since the release of Top Gun: Maverick landing leading roles in high-profile projects like Richard Linklater 's action-comedy Hitman , the Kat Coiro -directed buddy-comedy Foreign Relations where he'll play opposite Nick Jonas , and the big-budget Prime Video original series Butch & Sundance which also stars Regé-Jean Page and is a reboot of the classic film Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid .

Monica Barbaro as Lt. Natasha "Phoenix" Trace

Phoenix is one of two female pilots invited to Top Gun. She is often at odds with Hangman and a friend to Rooster and the rest of the aviators. Monica Barbaro is best known for her time on Chicago Justice , The Good Cop , and Splitting Up Togethe r. Her next projects will be a voice-role in the Netflix anime series Army of the Dead: Lost Vegas and playing the co-lead in the Arnold Schwarzenegger -led Netflix series Utap .

Related: 'Top Gun: Maverick': Watch Miles Teller Rock Out to "Great Balls of Fire" in New Video

Lewis Pullman as Lt. Robert "Bob" Floyd

Bob becomes Phoenix's second seat and a trusted friend. His name is Bob, and his call sign is Bob, making for pretty funny banter between him and his fellow pilots. Lewis Pullman has previously appeared in Bad Times at the El Royale , Catch-22 , and Them That Follow . His subsequent appearances are in Thelma , Auxiliary Man , Salem’s Lot , and the Brie Larson -led Apple series Lessons in Chemistry .

Jay Ellis as Lt. Reuben "Payback" Fitch

Payback and his partner Fanboy prove to be terrific pilots under Maverick’s teachings. So much so that they are chosen as major players in the upcoming mission. Jay Ellis starred as Payback and was previously seen in Insecure , Mrs. America , and Masters of Sex . His next role is in the forthcoming film, Someone I Used to Know from director Dave Franco .

Danny Ramirez as Lt. Mickey "Fanboy" Garcia

Fanboy is Payback’s flight partner and operates the backseat controls. He serves the same role Bob does for Pheonix or what Goose did for Maverick. Danny Ramirez most recently appeared in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier , Assassination Nation , and No Exit . His upcoming projects are Plus/Minus , Chestnut , and Captain America: New World Order .

Bashir Salahuddin as Wo-1. Bernie "Hondo" Coleman

Bernie is a Warrant Officer Rank 1 and is working on a program that Maverick is test-piloting. When Maverick gets called back to Top Gun, Hondo goes with him and becomes his assistant coach. Bashir Salahuddin is the writer and star of Sherman’s Showcase , where he plays Sherman McDaniels. He has also appeared in Robot Chicken , The Dropout , and has an upcoming project titled Paradise .

Jon Hamm as Adm. Beau "Cyclone" Simpson

Admiral Simpson is tasked with overseeing Maverick’s mission. He doesn’t tolerate Maverick’s shenanigans and doesn’t think he’s the man for the job. Cyclone is very strict and has a no-nonsense attitude, making him the perfect foil for Maverick. Jon Ham is best known as Don Draper from Mad Men. He has also appeared in Tag , Baby Driver , The Town , and he most recently starred in the title role in Confess, Fletch . 2023 looks to be a huge year for Hamm, he'll be reprising his role as Gabriel in Season 2 of Good Omens , will be joining the cast of Season 3 of the Apple original series The Morning Show , will play one of the leads in Season 5 of Fargo , he'll lend his voice to the animated comedy series Grimsburg, and will star in John Slattery 's directorial debut Maggie Moore(s) .

Charles Parnell as Adm. Solomon "Warlock" Bates

Admiral Bates is much more forgiving of Maverick’s past and wants to support him. Warlock works alongside Cyclone and offers a less-strict approach to the situation at hand. Charles Parnell has starred in many projects, including, The Last Ship , The Venture Bros. , and T ransformers: Age of Extinction . He most recently appeared in the FX series Kindred . He is slated to appear in Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning - Part One and David Fincher 's action-noir film The Killer .

Ed Harris as Rear Admiral Chaster "Hammer" Cain

Ed Harris has a brief appearance in Top Gun: Maverick , but his presence is felt. We meet Hammer when Maverick is attempting to push his plane to Mach 10 to save the program he’s currently test-piloting for. Hammer arrives to shut down the program in person, and Maverick is flying overhead as he comes. Hammer later informs Maverick that Iceman wants him to report to Top Gun. Ed Harris is known for his roles in The Truman Show , Apollo 13 , Westworld , and Pollock . His upcoming projects include Love Lies Bleeding , Downtown Owl , and Get Away If You Can .

  • Movie Features
  • Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

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The cast of ‘Top Gun’ (1986) then and now

Posted: June 3, 2024 | Last updated: June 3, 2024

<p>Directed by Tony Scott, <em>Top Gun</em> was the highest-grossing film of 1986, bringing in US$357 million at the box office against a modest US$15-million budget. Despite its initial mixed reception, the film’s popularity has endured for more than three decades, resulting in a much-anticipated sequel with Tom Cruise reprising his role as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell.</p> <p>Let's look back on the cast of the original film and see what they’ve been up to.</p>

Directed by Tony Scott, Top Gun was the highest-grossing film of 1986, bringing in US$357 million at the box office against a modest US$15-million budget. Despite its initial mixed reception, the film’s popularity has endured for more than three decades, resulting in a much-appreciated sequel with Tom Cruise reprising his role as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell.

Let's look back on the cast of the original film and see what they’ve been up to.

<p class="p1"><span>The <a href="https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/top_gun/" rel="noreferrer noopener"><span>1986 action blockbuster</span></a> starring Tom Cruise as a Navy pilot-in-training seemed so much like a recruitment tool for the military that the <a href="https://time.com/4322304/top-gun-30th-anniversary-military-history/" rel="noreferrer noopener"><span>number of uniformed personnel</span></a> in all branches of the military increased by 20,000 after the film’s release. Military recruiters reportedly waited outside theatres, and <a href="http://content.time.com/time/subscriber/article/0,33009,962933-2,00.html" rel="noreferrer noopener"><span><em>Time</em> reported</span></a> that the P</span><span>entagon reviewed more than 200 screenplays just a few months after <em>Top Gun</em>’s premiere. That also meant the Department of Defense had major influence on how the scripts were written. The movie <a href="https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/top-gun-inspired-propaganda-film-698091" rel="noreferrer noopener"><span>also inspired a recent short</span></a> produced by the Chinese government, which has been viewed more than four million times online. </span></p>

THEN: Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise was just 24 years old when he starred as United States Naval Aviator Lieutenant Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. Although he’s an exemplary pilot, Maverick rubs some of his instructors and fellow students the wrong way with his reckless flying style and larger-than-life personality. Cruise was initially hesitant to take the part , but was convinced after being taken on a flight in an F-14 by the Blue Angels.

<p>Tom Cruise is one of Hollywood’s leading men, and because of his A-list good looks he’s no stranger to love affairs and adoration. Since skyrocketing to fame in the ‘80s, he’s had several high-profile relationships, including three marriages. Here we look back at his love life timeline. </p>

NOW: Tom Cruise

Following the success of Top Gun , Cruise would go on to become one of the most sought-after actors in Hollywood, starring in box-office hits and critically acclaimed films such as The Color of Money , Rain Man , A Few Good Men , Jerry Maguire , and too many others to mention. To date, he’s been nominated for three Academy Awards and won three Golden Globes. He reprised his role as Ethan Hunt in a pair of Mission: Impossible films (the seventh and eighth in the series) in 2023 and 2024.

<p>Val Kilmer became a household name after nailing the role of Tom “Iceman” Kazansky, the cocky blond-haired pilot who butts heads with rival Topgun student Maverick. According to <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/06/magazine/val-kilmer.html"><em>The New York Times</em></a>, “Kilmer was so dedicated to inhabiting the role that he created Team Iceman and Team Maverick factions in the ‘Top Gun’ movie cast.”</p>

THEN: Val Kilmer

Val Kilmer became a household name after nailing the role of Tom “Iceman” Kazansky, the cocky blond-haired pilot who butts heads with rival Topgun student Maverick. According to The New York Times , “Kilmer was so dedicated to inhabiting the role that he created Team Iceman and Team Maverick factions in the ‘Top Gun’ movie cast.”

<p>Regarded by his peers as one of the most talented and versatile actors of his generation, Kilmer has starred in films such as <em>The Doors </em>(as Doors frontman Jim Morrison), <em>Tombstone</em>, <em>Batman Forever</em>, <em>Heat</em>, and <em>Kiss Kiss Bang Bang</em>. In December 2017, <a href="https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/movies/movie-news/val-kilmer-opens-up-battling-cancer-his-kids-showbiz-ambitions-1068733/"><em>The Hollywood Reporter</em></a> revealed that the actor had gone through a two-year battle with throat cancer, which affected his ability to speak and eat. Nevertheless, Cruise pushed for Kilmer to <a href="https://www.indiewire.com/2021/08/tom-cruise-val-kilmer-top-gun-2-return-1234660731/">reprise his role as Iceman in the <em>Top Gun</em> sequel</a>. </p>

NOW: Val Kilmer

Regarded by his peers as one of the most talented and versatile actors of his generation, Kilmer has starred in films such as The Doors (as Doors frontman Jim Morrison), Tombstone , Batman Forever , Heat , and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang . In December 2017, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that the actor had gone through a two-year battle with throat cancer, which affected his ability to speak and eat. Nevertheless, Cruise pushed for Kilmer to reprise his role as Iceman in the Top Gun sequel .

<p>McGillis was coming off a breakout role in 1985’s <em>Witness </em>when she nabbed the part of flight instructor Charlotte “Charlie” Blackwood. Her character was based on real-life military official and now-former Acting Deputy Security of Defense <a href="https://www.military.com/podcasts/left-of-boom/2020/09/03/meet-real-charlie-top-gun-christine-fox.html">Christine Fox</a>, who worked as a civilian employee at Naval Air Station Miramar.</p>

THEN: Kelly McGillis

McGillis was coming off a breakout role in 1985’s Witness when she nabbed the part of flight instructor Charlotte “Charlie” Blackwood. Her character was based on real-life military official and now-former Acting Deputy Security of Defense Christine Fox , who worked as a civilian employee at Naval Air Station Miramar.

<p>McGillis’s most recent acting credit came in an episode of the true-crime anthology series <em>Dirty John</em>. She won’t be reprising her role in the much-anticipated <em>Top Gun</em> sequel, an omission she says is due to the fact that she’s too “old” and “fat” and “age-appropriate” to play Cruise’s love interest. This led some to accuse the filmmakers of perpetuating a <a href="https://ca.style.yahoo.com/kelly-mcgillis-top-gun-sequel-old-fat-220247589.html">double standard</a> when it comes to male and female actors in Hollywood. </p>

NOW: Kelly McGillis

McGillis’s most recent acting credit came in an episode of the true-crime anthology series Dirty John . She won’t be reprising her role in the much-anticipated Top Gun sequel, an omission she says is due to the fact that she’s too “old” and “fat” and “age-appropriate” to play Cruise’s love interest. This led some to accuse the filmmakers of perpetuating a double standard when it comes to male and female actors in Hollywood.

<p>Directed by Tony Scott, <em>Top Gun</em> was the highest-grossing film of 1986, bringing in US$357 million at the box office against a modest US$15-million budget. Despite its initial mixed reception, the film’s popularity has endured for more than three decades, resulting in a much-anticipated sequel with Tom Cruise reprising his role as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell.</p> <p>Let's look back on the cast of the original film and see what they’ve been up to.</p>

THEN: Anthony Edwards

Goose was the ultimate wingman. Where hot-shot Maverick was fiery and flashy, Goose was level-headed and serious, though he wasn’t afraid to let loose himself at times. Commenting on his character’s heartbreaking fate, Edwards said , “Goose’s journey is wonderfully tragic because you like him so much. You’re like, ‘Why does he have to die?’ But in that form of storytelling, you have to make your hero suffer and overcome.”

<p>Edwards found further fame on the hit NBC hospital drama <em>ER</em>, in which he played Dr. Mark Greene for eight seasons. Since leaving the series in 2002, he has gone on to appear in a number of films and TV shows, including <em>Zero Hour</em>, <em>Law & Order: True Crime</em>, <em>Inventing Anna</em>, and the more recent Apple TV+ drama <em>WeCrashed</em>. He <a href="https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/tv/story/2022-02-24/anthony-edwards-mare-winningham-married-elope#:~:text=Anthony%20Edwards%20reveals%20he%20eloped,2020%2C%20in%20New%20York%20City.&text=%E2%80%9CInventing%20Anna%E2%80%9D%20star%20Anthony%20Edwards,star%20Mare%20Winningham%20are%20married.">married his <em>ER</em> co-star Mare Winningham in 2021</a>.</p>

NOW: Anthony Edwards

Edwards found further fame on the hit NBC hospital drama ER , in which he played Dr. Mark Greene for eight seasons. Since leaving the series in 2002, he has gone on to appear in a number of films and TV shows, including Zero Hour , Law & Order: True Crime , Inventing Anna , and the more recent Apple TV+ drama WeCrashed . He married his ER co-star Mare Winningham in 2021 .

<p>Though she’s one of the biggest stars to come out of <em>Top Gun</em>, at the time Meg Ryan was a <a href="https://people.com/movies/meg-ryan-life-and-career-in-photos/" rel="noreferrer noopener">relatively little-known actress</a>, having only appeared in a number of television shows and small films before landing the role of Nick Bradshaw’s wife, plucky Carole Bradshaw. </p>

THEN: Meg Ryan

Though she’s one of the biggest stars to come out of Top Gun , at the time Meg Ryan was a relatively little-known actress , having only appeared in a number of television shows and small films before landing the role of Nick Bradshaw’s wife, plucky Carole Bradshaw.

<p>Ryan’s breakout role came a few years later in the hit 1989 romantic comedy <em>When Harry Met Sally</em>, which earned her a Golden Globe nomination and catapulted her to A-list status. From there she would go on to star in <a href="https://collider.com/meg-ryan-movies-underappreciated/" rel="noreferrer noopener">some of the biggest films</a> of the 1990s and 2000s, including <em>Sleepless in Seattle</em>, <em>French Kiss</em>, <em>Courage Under Fire</em>, and <em>You’ve Got Mail</em>. The actress made her directorial debut in 2015 with the war drama <em>Ithaca</em>, which featured her son, <em>The Boys</em> star Jack Quaid.</p>

NOW: Meg Ryan

Ryan’s breakout role came a few years later in the hit 1989 romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally , which earned her a Golden Globe nomination and catapulted her to A-list status. From there she would go on to star in some of the biggest films of the 1990s and 2000s, including Sleepless in Seattle , French Kiss , Courage Under Fire , and You’ve Got Mail . The actress made her directorial debut in 2015 with the war drama Ithaca , which featured her son, The Boys star Jack Quaid.

<p>Tim Robbins was an <a href="https://www.looper.com/973017/the-untold-truth-of-tim-robbins/" rel="noreferrer noopener">up-and-coming talent</a> when he appeared in <em>Top Gun</em>, with credits in <em>St. Elsewhere</em>, <em>The Sure Thing</em>, and <em>No Small Affair</em>. His character, Lieutenant Sam “Merlin” Wells, was originally the radar intercept officer (RIO) for Cougar before being reassigned to Maverick following Cougar’s breakdown.</p>

THEN: Tim Robbins

Tim Robbins was an up-and-coming talent when he appeared in Top Gun , with credits in St. Elsewhere , The Sure Thing , and No Small Affair . His character, Lieutenant Sam “Merlin” Wells, was originally the radar intercept officer (RIO) for Cougar before being reassigned to Maverick following Cougar’s breakdown.

<p>Out of the entire <em>Top Gun</em> cast, Robbins has had arguably <a href="https://www.hollywoodinsider.com/tim-robbins-tribute-winner/" rel="noreferrer noopener">the most acclaimed career</a>, earning praise for both his comedic and dramatic roles in films such as <em>Bull Durham</em>, <em>The Shawshank Redemption</em>, and <em>Mystic River</em>. He won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the latter. The prolific actor recently portrayed Taft law firm partner Thomas Terp, who helped bring to light DuPont’s lengthy history of pollution, in the critically acclaimed legal thriller <em>Dark Waters</em>.</p>

NOW: Tim Robbins

Out of the entire Top Gun cast, Robbins has had arguably the most acclaimed career , earning praise for both his comedic and dramatic roles in films such as Bull Durham , The Shawshank Redemption , and Mystic River . He won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the latter. The prolific actor recently portrayed Taft law firm partner Thomas Terp, who helped bring to light DuPont’s lengthy history of pollution, in the critically acclaimed legal thriller Dark Waters .

<p>Canadian actor Michael Ironside played Lt. Commander Rick “Jester” Heatherly, <a href="https://topgun.fandom.com/wiki/Rick_Heatherly" rel="noreferrer noopener">the stern instructor</a> at Topgun. While Viper may be Maverick’s direct mentor, it’s Jester who does much of the hands-on teaching and training for the students, even accompanying them on flights. </p>

THEN: Michael Ironside

Canadian actor Michael Ironside played Lt. Commander Rick “Jester” Heatherly, the stern instructor at Topgun. While Viper may be Maverick’s direct mentor, it’s Jester who does much of the hands-on teaching and training for the students, even accompanying them on flights.

<p>Ironside’s lengthy career in Hollywood began in the late ’70s. He is best known for playing villains and bad guys, including an evil telepath named Darryl Revok in David Cronenberg’s 1981 sci-fi horror film <em>Scanners</em>. He explained in 2018 that he won’t be returning for <em>Top Gun 2</em> because of his <a href="https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/movies/movie-news/michael-ironside-explains-why-he-won-t-be-top-gun-sequel-1152118/">strained relationship with producer Jerry Bruckheimer</a>: “Mr. Bruckheimer and I don’t really get along, or didn’t get along. He offered me a project 10 or 12 years ago and … I said no to it.”</p>

NOW: Michael Ironside

Ironside’s lengthy career in Hollywood began in the late ’70s. He is best known for playing villains and bad guys, including an evil telepath named Darryl Revok in David Cronenberg’s 1981 sci-fi horror film Scanners . He explained in 2018 that he won’t be returning for Top Gun 2 because of his strained relationship with producer Jerry Bruckheimer : “Mr. Bruckheimer and I don’t really get along, or didn’t get along. He offered me a project 10 or 12 years ago and … I said no to it.”

<p>Tom Skerritt played Mike Metcalf, the no-nonsense commander and Vietnam War vet “who got the best of Maverick and Goose in an obsolete A-4A Skyhawk” <a href="https://www.military.com/off-duty/there-real-life-viper-and-he-made-cameo-top-gun.html">according to Military.com</a>. The character of “Viper” was based on real-life Rear Admiral Pete Pettigrew, who served as a technical advisor on the film and made a brief appearance as “Perry,” Charlie’s date at the officers’ club.</p>

THEN: Tom Skerritt

Tom Skerritt played Mike Metcalf, the no-nonsense commander and Vietnam War vet “who got the best of Maverick and Goose in an obsolete A-4A Skyhawk” according to Military.com . The character of “Viper” was based on real-life Rear Admiral Pete Pettigrew, who served as a technical advisor on the film and made a brief appearance as “Perry,” Charlie’s date at the officers’ club.

<p>In addition to <em>Top Gun</em>, the Michigan native is best known for his work in <em>MASH</em>, <em>Alien</em>, <em>The Dead Zone</em>, and <em>A River Runs Through It</em>. Like his character, Skerritt was in the military, having served a four-year tour of duty as a classifications specialist in the United States Air Force. Commenting on the <a href="https://www.wearethemighty.com/mighty-movies/tom-skerritt-hollywood-usaf-vet/">difference between his time in the Air Force and his career in Hollywood</a>, Skerritt said, “In the military, you have the training to be aware of other people for their benefit and your own. Not always the same in the civilian world.”</p>

NOW: Tom Skerritt

In addition to Top Gun , the Michigan native is best known for his work in MASH , Alien , The Dead Zone , and A River Runs Through It . Like his character, Skerritt was in the military, having served a four-year tour of duty as a classifications specialist in the United States Air Force. Commenting on the difference between his time in the Air Force and his career in Hollywood , Skerritt said, “In the military, you have the training to be aware of other people for their benefit and your own. Not always the same in the civilian world.”

<p>Clarence Gilyard plays <a href="https://topgun.fandom.com/wiki/Marcus_Williams" rel="noreferrer noopener">Marcus “Sundown” Williams</a>, who is handed the unenviable task of having to replace Goose as Maverick’s RIO. Still struggling with his friend’s death, Maverick fails to see eye to eye with his new wingman and the two soon have a falling out. </p>

THEN: Clarence Gilyard

Clarence Gilyard plays Marcus “Sundown” Williams , who is handed the unenviable task of having to replace Goose as Maverick’s RIO. Still struggling with his friend’s death, Maverick fails to see eye to eye with his new wingman and the two soon have a falling out.

<p>Most notably, Gilyard played computer expert terrorist Theo in the original <em>Die Hard</em>. He also appeared in all 196 episodes and two TV movies of <em>Walker, Texas Ranger</em> as Cordell Walker’s partner, Jimmy Trivette. Gilyard currently teaches acting in UNLV’s Department of Theatre. He earned his BA in theatre arts from California State University, Dominguez Hills and his MFA from Southern Methodist University. He unfortunately <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2022/11/29/entertainment/clarence-gilyard-jr-die-hard-dead-intl-scli/index.html" rel="noreferrer noopener">passed away</a> in 2022.</p>

NOW: Clarence Gilyard

Most notably, Gilyard played computer expert terrorist Theo in the original Die Hard . He also appeared in all 196 episodes and two TV movies of Walker, Texas Ranger as Cordell Walker’s partner, Jimmy Trivette. Gilyard currently teaches acting in UNLV’s Department of Theatre. He earned his BA in theatre arts from California State University, Dominguez Hills and his MFA from Southern Methodist University. He unfortunately passed away in 2022.

<p>John Stockwell played Maverick’s wingman <a href="https://topgun.fandom.com/wiki/Bill_Cortell" rel="noreferrer noopener">Bill “Cougar” Cortell</a>. His time as an airman is short-lived, however, as a close encounter with an enemy plane causes him to lose his edge and drop out of the program. </p>

THEN: John Stockwell

John Stockwell played Maverick’s wingman Bill “Cougar” Cortell . His time as an airman is short-lived, however, as a close encounter with an enemy plane causes him to lose his edge and drop out of the program.

<p>Stockwell started out his career <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Stockwell_(actor)" rel="noreferrer noopener">as a model</a>, during which time he befriended Andy Warhol. He ventured into acting in the ’80s with roles in <em>So Fine</em>, <em>Losin’ It</em> (starring <em>Top Gun</em> castmate Tom Cruise), and John Carpenter’s <em>Christine</em>. He has also written and directed a number of films, including <em>Crazy/Beautiful</em> and <em>Blue Crush</em>. He earned a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing for the TV movie <em>Cheaters</em>, starring Jeff Daniels and Jena Malone. </p>

NOW: John Stockwell

Stockwell started out his career as a model , during which time he befriended Andy Warhol. He ventured into acting in the ’80s with roles in So Fine , Losin’ It (starring Top Gun castmate Tom Cruise), and John Carpenter’s Christine . He has also written and directed a number of films, including Crazy/Beautiful and Blue Crush . He earned a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing for the TV movie Cheaters , starring Jeff Daniels and Jena Malone.

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“There was very little to the character”: Even Tom Cruise Fans Will Bow Down to Val Kilmer for How He Made Top Gun Interesting After Finding His Role Totally Bland

The origin of Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer's feud.

Val kilmer Top Gun

  • Val Kilmer and Tom Cruise's feud become one of the most well-known things to come out of Top Gun.
  • In his documentary, Kilmer revealed the true reason why he thinks they drifted.
  • The cause could have been the creative liberties he took with his character.

Although Top Gun and Top Gun: Maverick are two of the most iconic movies of all time, all of their fallout hasn’t been positive. Many may not know that the filming of the first film led to a rivalry between Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer. Even though their characters were at odds with each other, the actors shared quite a friendly relationship.

Glen Powrell's Hmamn hasd the same brash and cocky attituire as Val Kilmer's Icean from Top Gun | Paramount Pictures

However, as filming went on, a drive began to happen, and all they could do was watch as their characters came in between them. During an interview, Kilmer revealed his theory for why this was happening. According to him, only his character and circumstances are to blame.

Val Kilmer Needed More From His Character

In 2021, Val Kilmer was involved in an Amazon documentary called Val , which covered all aspects of his professional and personal life. His feud with Top Gun star, Tom Cruise was also a part of this project, and he revealed why he thought they drifted apart. The actor started by talking about his character in the 1986 film.

On the page, there was very little to the character Iceman, so I tended to make him real,

Val Kilmer and Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverik | Paramount Pictures

It would seem that when Kilmer initially got the script, his character, Tom Kazansky, was extremely two-dimensional. His motivations were left unsaid, and all of his personality traits were left open to interpretation. Rather than letting this continue and playing the character just as he was written, Kilmer decided that he would give him depth.

Jerry Bruckheimer’s Update on Top Gun 3 is Worrying For One Sole Reason and Even the Action God Tom Cruise Needs to Consider That

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I manifested a backstory for him, where he had a father who ignored him, and as a result, I was driven by a need to be perfect in every way. This obsession with perfection is what made him so arrogant.

Tom Cruise

He gave Kazansky a complex backstory that made his actions in the present make a lot more sense and turned him into an interesting personality. Although fans certainly loved this aspect of the film, it seemed to have backfired in another aspect of Kilmer’s life on that set.

Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer Got Lost in the Haze

Val Kilmer then went on to talk about his relationship with Tom Cruise in the documentary, finally revealing how he thinks it soured. After giving his character depth, he would continue to live in his shoes even after the cameras were turned off. Since Tom Kazansky has a rivalry with Pete Mitchell, tension began growing between Kilmer and Cruise.

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I would purposefully play up the rivalry between Tom’s character and mine off-screen as well, And what ended up happening is the actors in true method fashion, split into two distinct camps. You had Maverick and Goose (Anthony Edwards) on one side, and Slider (Rick Rossovich), Hollywood (Whip Hubley), Wolfman (Barry Tubb) and me, Iceman, on the other.

Val Kilmer

Both the actors got so lost in their roles that they forgot that they were portraying a work of fiction. They got so invested that other actors, like Anthony Edwards, Rick Rossovich, and Barry Tubb, also got involved in their squabble. They were two major groups made on set, and so much strain tends to turn friendship bitter.

Top Gun and Top Gun: Maverick are available for streaming on Paramount+. 

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A poet and art enthusiast, Ananya Godboley is a striving academic who is pursuing a career in Criminal Psychology, currently doing an undergrad degree in Psychology. Passionate about History, Philosophy and Literature, she loves to learn about new and interesting subjects. A writer for FandomWire with over 1000 published articles, she adores all things superhero and Taylor Swift.

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Steven Spielberg Tells Tom Cruise: ‘You Saved Hollywood’s Ass’ and ’Top Gun: Maverick’ Might’ve ‘Saved the Entire Theatrical Industry’

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Tom Cruise, Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise reunited at this year’s Oscar nominees luncheon, where the blockbuster filmmaker praised his “Minority Report” and “War of the Worlds” actor for saving the theatrical movie business with “ Top Gun: Maverick .” Both Spielberg and Cruise are in the running for best picture this year thanks to “The Fabelmans” and “Top Gun: Maverick,” respectively.

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“Top Gun: Maverick” was the second movie to gross over $1 billion at the worldwide box office amid the pandemic, following “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” With a $1.48 billion gross, “Maverick” ranks as the 11th highest-grossing movie in history worldwide (unadjusted for inflation). The film is the fifth-highest grosser at the domestic box office with $718 million.

Although “No Way Home” grossed more, that was a Marvel movie with three generations of Spider-Man actors in it. Although “Maverick” is a sequel, its success was hardly preordained. Yet the follow-up to 1986’s “Top Gun” became a rare old-fashioned hit that legged out at the box office for months based on worth of mouth. According to Paramount, repeat customers fueled the momentum for “Maverick.” By its fourth weekend in North American movie theaters, 16% of the audience had returned more than once and 4% had returned three times or more.

As Variety’s Oscars expert Clayton Davis previously reported , Cruise was the big hit of the nominees Luncheon. Spielberg was hardly the only nominee who fawned over the “Maverick” star. Brendan Gleeson, Paul Mescal, Baz Luhrmann, Michelle Yeoh, Austin Butler and more all made sure to approach Cruise during the event and take photos.

“Top: Gun Maverick” is nominated for six Oscars, while “The Fabelmans” is up for seven. The Oscars air March 12 on ABC.

steven spielberg telling tom cruise to his face, “you saved hollywood’s ass. and, you might have saved theatrical distribution. seriously. MAVERICK might have saved the entire theatrical industry.” i have to lie down. pic.twitter.com/nYbWbgadM7 — amanda (@marisatomay) February 14, 2023
Steven Spielberg tells Tom Cruise that “you saved Hollywood’s ass and you might have saved theatrical distribution. Seriously, ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ might have saved the entire theatrical industry.” pic.twitter.com/nPWR5BqiUV — DiscussingFilm (@DiscussingFilm) February 14, 2023

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In 2022, Top Gun: Maverick soared to box office success when, after more than thirty years of popular demand, Tony Scott's 1986 classic finally received a sequel. With Tom Cruise returning to the role of Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, the movie follows the seasoned pilot as he trains a new generation for a daring mission into enemy territory. Earning the respect of his students, he confronts past mistakes when Goose's son, Rooster, is put on the team.

Top Gun Maverick , like the first film, is a love letter to aviation and was praised for its realism, use of real aircraft and even putting the actors in the cockpit to get some brilliant shots. Far from the only aviation-centric film in Hollywood, Maverick has a long line of films that would make for perfect companions for audiences. Ranging from World War II epics to modern rescue missions, audiences continue to show love and respect for a good fighter pilot film.

Tom Cruise's 15 Highest-Grossing Films

From legacy sequels to intense spy thrillers, Tom Cruise is quickly proving himself to be one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood today.

10 Pearl Harbor Is A Romantic Fighter Pilot Movie

Pearl Harbor takes place during the early days of the Second World War and follows two best friends, Rafe and Danny, who share a long love of aviation. After enlisting, Rafe meets and falls in love with a nurse, Evelyn. However, when he volunteers to fly for the Royal Air Force in Europe, the man is mistakenly reported as killed in action, leaving Evelyn and Danny despondent over his loss, after which they themselves fall in love. When Rafe shows up alive, the complicated love triangle comes between the two friends, though they set their issues aside when the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor. In response, they volunteer to be among the pilots sent on the famous Doolittle Raid, a strike at the heart of Japan's manufacturing infrastructure.

Pearl Harbor is something of a divisive film among fans of both World War II cinema and Michael Bay. The film clearly attempted to bring James Cameron's approach to Titanic to the war, which led to more attention being paid to the romance than the actual conflict. However, when the film does focus on aviation, it does it better than most and is worth a watch at least once.

Pearl Harbor (2001)

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A tale of war and romance mixed in with history. The story follows two lifelong friends and a beautiful nurse who are caught up in the horror of an infamous Sunday morning in 1941.

9 Fire Birds Is Top Gun But With Helicopters

10 steven spielberg films that defined a generation.

Steven Spielberg's filmography is unlike any in film, and many of his movies have defined entire generations of cinema.

Fire Birds focuses on an attack helicopter pilot, Jake Preston, who survives an encounter with a skilled cartel pilot that results in the other aircraft on the operation getting shot down. In order to match the lethality of their enemy, the US Army begins training pilots to use Apache gunships, with Preston being sent to Fort Mitchell, home of the new chopper. There, he meets and is trained by a seasoned pilot, Brad Little, while also rekindling a relationship with a former girlfriend, all building towards his rematch with the enemy pilot to bring down the cartels.

While not an excellent movie, Fire Birds shares many of the same plot points, character arcs, dynamics and basic structure as the Top Gun movies. The film clearly tried to seize on the pop culture phenomenon of the first movie and feels almost like a shot-for-shot remake of some sequences. Featuring a young Nicolas Cage near the start of his career, as well as Tommy Lee Jones as the Maverick-style character, the movie is worth a look — even if it doesn't hold a candle to Tony Scott's classic.

8 Red Tails Explores the Courage of the Tuskegee Airmen

Red Tails takes place during World War II , and focuses on the Tuskegee Airmen, an all-black unit of American fighter pilots charged with escorting bombers. Based in Italy, the film explores the lives of five pilots, Ray Gun, Lightning, Easy, Smokey and Joker as they navigate the tense situation on the ground, with each of them forced to confront prejudice, self-doubt and personal problems.

Red Tails shines a light on the heroism of its heroes, who are forced to contend with the threat of enemy fighters as well as racism from their fellow Americans. As they prove themselves in battle, the pilots earn the respect of their peers, overcoming prejudice and forging a spot among the Allies' greatest heroes.

A crew of African American pilots in the Tuskegee training program, having faced segregation while kept mostly on the ground during World War II, are called into duty under the guidance of Col. A.J. Bullard.

7 Iron Eagle Is An '80s Rescue Mission

Iron Eagle begins when a talented pilot, Doug Masters, learns that his Air Force father has been shot down and taken prisoner by the fictional country Bilya, and sentenced to death in three days. Believing the US government won't do anything to help, he approaches a Vietnam veteran pilot, Chappy, to join him on a daring rescue mission. After procuring a fighter jet, the pair set off on their daring operation, causing a confrontation with the enemy state.

Iron Eagle is often viewed as a cheesy counterpart to Top Gun , one that goes all in on the macho bravado of the 1980s and requires more suspension of disbelief. That said, the film is a fun experience, and shares some plot points with the final mission and the relationship between Maverick and Rooster at the end of Top Gun: Maverick .

6 Behind Enemy Lines Is a War Survival Movie

10 best survival horror films of all time, ranked.

Horror movies come in many shapes and sizes, but some of the scariest stories are the ones where people fight for survival against impossible odds!

Behind Enemy Lines takes place at the height of NATO involvement during the Bosnian War, and follows Navy pilots Chris Burnett and Jeremy Stackhouse. After being sent on a reconnaissance mission, they're shot down when they discover a mass grave and evidence of war crimes. When Stackhouse is murdered, Burnett is forced to flee behind enemy lines, pursued by a band of paramilitary fighters intent on killing him before rescue can arrive. At the same time, viewers are shown the political tensions that arise as the carrier's captain attempts to form a rescue operation.

The premise of Behind Enemy Lines is actually briefly explored in the final act of Top Gun: Maverick , when Mav and Rooster find themselves in a similar situation. When they're able to flee in an old F-14, Burnett is forced to make his escape on foot, navigating the horrors of war as he evades his hunters. While the film doesn't explore the aviation aspect as much as the Top Gun movies, it's still worth a watch for fans of the 2022 hit.

Behind Enemy Lines (2001)

A disillusioned pilot shot down over war-torn Bosnia goes on the run from the local military and an assassin, as his commanding officer risks all to save him.

5 Independence Day Is a Blockbuster Epic

Independence Day begins with the arrival of a large alien spaceship to Earth, where a series of smaller, city-sized ships descend into the planet's atmosphere, covering areas like New York and London. When the aliens demonstrate hostile intent and decimate many of the world's key cities, the remnants of America's government head to Area 51. At the same time, US Marine Corps pilot Steven Hiller and his squad take the fight to the aliens. However, when the rest of the pilots are wiped out and his own jet is destroyed, he makes the long trek through the desert to the base. At Area 51, where it's revealed the government knew about aliens, humanity begins to plan an epic counter-attack to retake their world.

Independence Day captures much of the same patriotic energy as Top Gun: Maverick , while channeling the same love of aviation and dogfight sequences. While it is primarily a science fiction alien invasion movie, it contains just as much aerial combat as the Top Gun movies, replete with alien ships to fight back. The stakes are higher and there are far more fighter jets on screen, giving audiences as true a summer blockbuster as there ever was.

Independence Day

4 hot shots is a top gun parody.

Hot Shots is, in no uncertain terms, a direct parody of Tony Scott's first Top Gun movie, and follows a young pilot, Topper Harley, who lives in the shadow of his disgraced father, Buzz. When his old commanding officer asks him to return to his squad, the AWOL pilot agrees, and instantly forms a rivalry with Kent Gregory, whose father died as a result of Buzz's reckless flying. The pilots are trained to use the Navy's newest aircraft, and Topper is forced to overcome the lingering shame and self-doubt caused by his father's actions.

Hot Shots is by no means a serious film, and anyone watching it for the same high stakes, edge-of-your-seat action as the Top Gun movies will be disappointed. However, in the realm of parody, it stands out as one of the best films of the '90s and 2000s, right alongside Naked Gun , Austin Powers and Scary Movie — though some references may feel dated for modern audiences.

3 Heartbreak Ridge Plays On Many of the Same Themes As Top Gun

Heartbreak Ridge follows a seasoned USMC Gunnery Sergeant, Tom Highway, an officer with a stubborn personality who gets transferred back to his old unit to get them in shape. Known for its poor performance and a rebellious attitude, Highway is forced to go above and beyond to earn their respect, instilling morale into the unit as he turns them into soldiers.

Heartbreak Ridge is actually a perfect Marine Corps counterpart to the Top Gun movies, playing on the same themes of inter-generational mentorship, morale and seasoned soldiers having another shot at glory. Highway is a good analog for Maverick in the 2022 movie, a man seemingly too old to still hold the rank he does who works better in the field than behind a desk. Just as Top Gun: Maverick ends with a big mission, so too does this Clint Eastwood classic , completing his mission to turn the grunts in his charge into Marine Corps heroes.

2 Flight of the Intruder Explores a Key Vietnam War Aircraft

10 best action movies of the 2010s, ranked.

Action movies are the backbone of Hollywood and the 2010s were an incredible decade with movies like Mad Max: Fury Road and John Wick.

Flight of the Intruder follows the story of an American Vietnam War pilot, Jake Grafton, who survives a mission that results in the death of his navigator. He's then assigned a seasoned replacement, Virgil Cole, who aids Grafton in an unauthorized mission to strike Hanoi directly, deviating from their orders. In response, the pair are grounded, despite destroying key enemy SAM launchers. When their commanding officer is shot down on a mission, the pair again disobey orders to fly out and save him.

Flight of the Intruder is closer to the original top gun, both in plot and style, but it highlights a less-explored corner of aviation, focusing on a bomber instead of a fighter jet. With a star-studded cast that includes Danny Glover and Willem Defoe, it's an under-appreciated film that's a good chaser for the Top Gun movies.

Flight Of The Intruder (1991)

During the air war over Vietnam, a U.S. Navy A-6 Intruder bomber pilot schemes with a hardened veteran to make an unauthorized air strike on Hanoi.

1 Top Gun Started It All

Tony Scott's original 1986 Top Gun movie introduced the world to Pete "Maverick" Mitchell. Here a young pilot, the film follows Mav and his navigator, Goose, as they depart their carrier group to train at the elite flying school. There, they meet fellow pilots like Iceman, Wolfman and Hollywood, while learning from veteran pilots Jester and Viper. At the same time, Pete meets and falls in love with Charlie, a civilian liaison with the Navy, who teaches the pilots about enemy aircraft and flight maneuvers. When Goose is tragically killed , Mav is left despondent and must overcome his self doubt to get back in the cockpit and fly a daring mission.

When it released, Top Gun became a worldwide phenomenon, and has since become a genuine cultural touchstone, especially among pilots and lovers of aviation. Often cited as the film that turned Tom Cruise into a box office star, as well as a crowning achievement of Tony Scott's, the film's sequel was long overdue. Loved by many for anything from its quintessentially '80s soundtrack to its iconic aviation shots, the film blends romance, war, drama and action into a masterpiece.

As students at the United States Navy's elite fighter weapons school compete to be best in the class, one daring young pilot learns a few things from a civilian instructor that are not taught in the classroom.

Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

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Interview With the Vampire director says backlash against Tom Cruise casting was ‘wrong’

Tom cruise was offered the lead role in the horror fantasy after daniel day-lewis turned it down, article bookmarked.

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Interview With the Vampire director Neil Jordan is looking back on the outrage that ensued after he cast Tom Cruise in the lead role opposite Brad Pitt.

Cruise, 61, led the 1994 fantasy horror – based on Anne Rice’s 1976 novel – as Lestat, a vampire who befriends and persuades suicidal vampire Louis (Pitt) to choose immortality over death.

While Cruise had starred in popular hits Risky Business (1983) and Top Gun (1986) already, his casting was criticized by fans of Rice’s book, who questioned if he could do the character justice .

In an op-ed published in The Telegraph , Jordan recalled the difficulty of casting Lesate, revealing that he had initially offered the part to Daniel Day-Lewis.

“The problem was the casting of Lestat. Brad Pitt had agreed to play Louis and somehow assumed Daniel Day-Lewis would be playing Lestat, an assumption shared by Anne. I offered it to Daniel, who read it, and, as I expected, didn’t want to play the character,” the Irish director wrote.

“A few years before, he had confined himself to a wheelchair to play Christy Brown in ‘My Left Foot.’ He would have had to sleep in a coffin for the entirety of this production if he followed the same practice. So we moved on.”

Jordan explained that it was after he met Cruise twice at his Brentwood house that he realized the actor had a lot in common with Lestat, affirming his decision.

‘Tom [Cruise] has become the last remaining film star,’ director Neil Jordan said

“I finally got it,” Jordan continued. “He had to live a life removed from the gaze of others. He had made a contract with the hidden forces, whatever they turned out to be. He had to hide in the shadows, even in the Hollywood sunlight. He would be eternally young. He was a star. He could well be Lestat.”

Noting that Cruise is “also a superb actor,” he added that “that small fact got lost in the outrage that followed.”

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“Half of America, it seemed, had read Anne Rice’s books and wanted a say in the casting of Lestat,” he said. “Anne herself took to the airwaves, saying that it was as if I had cast Edward G Robinson as Rhett Butler. But she was wrong and was later big enough to admit it.”

Jordan additionally touched on the subject in a new interview with The Guardian , saying that “it must have been very difficult” for Cruise amid fan fury.

Critics eventually came to appreciate Cruise’s performance , and it is now considered one of his defining roles.

“He’s a great actor,” Jordan said. “If he says he can do something, he will do it in a way that people will be shocked by. Tom has become the last remaining film star. It’s kind of strange.”

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IMAGES

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  1. Who Is Top Gun: Maverick's Penny and Is She in the First Film?

    Kelly McGillis' Charlie was one of the big reasons the 1986 blockbuster Top Gun worked so well. A smart, capable woman in an era of token girlfriends, the Top Gun actress brought a surprising sense of equality to her relationship with Tom Cruise's Maverick. She dictated the terms of their romance, she was presented as the more emotionally mature of the two, and, at the end of the film, he came ...

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  10. Top Gun (1986)

    Top Gun: Directed by Tony Scott. With Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, Val Kilmer, Anthony Edwards. As students at the United States Navy's elite fighter weapons school compete to be best in the class, one daring young pilot learns a few things from a civilian instructor that are not taught in the classroom.

  11. Who played Tom Cruiseʼs girlfriend in Top Gun?

    Who is the actress that played Tom Cruise's love interest in Top Gun? Kelly McGillis played the role of Tom Cruise's girlfriend in the movie. See 3,000+ New Gun Deals HERE

  12. Top Gun(1986): Tom Cruise meets Charlie

    After losing his friend, top pilot Maverick is given a second chance to redeem himself. He struggles to be at his best and also gets romantically involved wi...

  13. Top Gun

    Top Gun is a 1986 American action drama film directed by Tony Scott and produced by Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, with distribution by Paramount Pictures.The screenplay was written by Jim Cash and Jack Epps Jr., and was inspired by an article titled "Top Guns", written by Ehud Yonay and published in California magazine three years earlier. It stars Tom Cruise as Lieutenant Pete "Maverick ...

  14. Meet the Real-Life Badass Who Inspired 'Top Gun' Love Interest

    The poster for 1986's Top Gun (which celebrates its 30th anniversary on Monday) shows the film's upstart fighter pilot Maverick (Tom Cruise) being embraced by his flight school instructor and ...

  15. 'Top Gun' Cast and Characters (And What They're Doing Now)

    Val Kilmer made his mark in Hollywood with his role as Tom 'Iceman' Kazansky in the 1986 smash Top Gun.The adversary to Tom Cruise's Maverick, the cool under fire Iceman views Maverick's ...

  16. Top Gun Cast & Character Guide

    Tom Cruise leads the Top Gun cast as LT Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, the roguish, charismatic U.S. Navy pilot at the center of the movie. Cruise later reprised the role in the sequel, Top Gun: Maverick.Cruise got his breakout with the classic 1980s comedy Risky Business and went on to impress critics with his dramatic abilities in The Color of Money, Rain Man, and Born on the Fourth of July.

  17. 'Top Gun' Producers Worried About the Age Difference Between Tom Cruise

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  18. Why Tom Cruise's Love Interest in "Top Gun: Maverick" Looks Different

    "Top Gun: Maverick" is packed with nostalgia and callbacks to the original 1986 movie, including some legacy characters and familiar scenes. One thing viewers have noticed has changed, however, is who plays the love interest to Tom Cruise's Pete "Maverick" Mitchell. The sequel - which was nominated for six Academy Awards - sees Maverick, now decades into his career, wooing a bar owner (and ...

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  21. 'Top Gun' 1986 Cast Then and Now

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  22. Top Gun: Maverick Cast & Character Guide: Who's Who in the ...

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  23. TOP GUN (1986)

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  24. The cast of 'Top Gun' (1986) then and now

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  25. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell

    In the 1986 film Top Gun, Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, portrayed by Tom Cruise, is a young and charismatic naval aviator with a distinctive appearance. He is often seen wearing a leather G-1 military flight jacket , white T-shirt , blue Levi Jeans , aviator sunglasses , and a flight suit , which adds to his iconic and rugged image as a fighter pilot .

  26. Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer Got Lost in the Haze

    Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer's feud started after the latter took a lot of creative liberties with his Top Gun character to give him more complexity. ... His feud with Top Gun star, Tom Cruise was also a part of this project, and he revealed why he thought they drifted apart. The actor started by talking about his character in the 1986 film ...

  27. Steven Spielberg Says Tom Cruise Saved Hollywood With Top Gun ...

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  28. Top Gun (1986)

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  29. 10 Movies to Watch If You Love Top Gun: Maverick

    In 2022, Top Gun: Maverick soared to box office success when, after more than thirty years of popular demand, Tony Scott's 1986 classic finally received a sequel. With Tom Cruise returning to the role of Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, the movie follows the seasoned pilot as he trains a new generation for a daring mission into enemy territory.

  30. Interview With the Vampire director says backlash against Tom Cruise

    Tom Cruise was offered the lead role in the horror fantasy after Daniel Day-Lewis turned it down. ... (1983) and Top Gun (1986) already, his casting was criticized by fans of Rice's book, ...