Why the ‘Top Gun’ Sequel Left Out Original Star Kelly McGillis

It’s been 36 years since Top Gun hit theaters.

Now Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, iconicly portrayed by a young Tom Cruise, is back in the cockpit in Top Gun: Maverick.

The highly-anticipated sequel to the 1986 action-drama premieres later this month, although two major female leads from the original story will not be starring: Kelly McGillis and Meg Ryan.

McGillis played Charlie Blackwood, a flight instructor and the object of Maverick’s affections. Ryan, meanwhile, portrayed the wife of Goose Bradshaw (Anthony Edwards), Maverick’s best friend and co-pilot, who dies on the job.

Joseph Kosinski, who directed the sequel, told Insider that he has no intention of ever bringing the two women back for Maverick.

“These weren’t stories that we threw around,” Kosinski said.

McGillis and Cruise
Tom Cruise as Lt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell and Kelly McGillis as Charlotte “Charlie” Blackwood starred in 1986’s Top Gun.
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TOP GUN, TOM CRUISE, MEG RYAN, ANTHONY EDWARDS, 1986
Meg Ryan played the wife of Maverick’s best friend, Goose Bradshaw.
©Paramount/Courtesy of Everett Col

He also explained that there is already too much narrative in the new film, including the return of Val Kilmer as Iceman Kazansky and Maverick coaching Goose’s son, Rooster (Miles Teller).

The sequel focuses on Maverick’s Navy piloting career 30 years after the first film and introduces a host of hopeful recruits for the veteran to train.

McGillis, now 64, previously spoke about not being asked to be in the second strip in 2019. “I’m old and I’m fat and I look age appropriate for my age. And that’s not what this whole scene is about. I’d much rather feel totally about myself and who I am at my age than valuing all these other things,” she told Entertainment Tonight.

This image released by Paramount Pictures shows Jennifer Connelly (left) and Tom Cruise (left). "Top Gun: Maverick." (Paramount Pictures via AP)
Jennifer Connelly returns as Penny Benjamin.
Paramount Pictures via AP
Enter Monica Barbaro (left) and Miles Teller "Top Gun: Maverick."
Monica Barbaro (left) and Miles Teller in Top Gun: Maverick.
Paramount Pictures via AP
Tom Cruise returns to the cockpit 36 ​​years after the original blockbuster Top Gun.
Tom Cruise returns to the cockpit 36 ​​years after the original blockbuster Top Gun.
Paramount Pictures via AP
Miles Teller plays Goose Bradshaw's son, Rooster.
Miles Teller plays Goose Bradshaw’s son, Rooster.
Paramount Pictures via AP

For her part, Ryan hasn’t spoken out about her missing role in Maverick – but she is reportedly busy with other projects: The 60-year-old is set to make her long-awaited return to rom-coms in What Happens Later. ‘ opposite David Duchovny, 61, is due out next year.

Kosinski also revealed to Insiders that a character who was merely mentioned in the parent film will have a prominent role in the 2022 sequel. Jennifer Connelly, 51, puts a face to the name Penny Benjamin – referred to in the first film only as “the admiral’s daughter,” with whom Maverick is said to have had a brief affair.

top gun
Top Gun: Maverick director Joseph Kosinski told Insider that McGillis’ return was never part of the sequel discussions.
CBS via Getty Images
Kelly McGillis
McGillis, pictured here in 2014, reported that she was not asked to be in the Top Gun sequel.
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The Oscar-winner portrays a single mother who owns a bar next to the flight school where Maverick returns to lead a new generation of fighter pilots, including Penny’s daughter, Amelia (Lyliana Wray).

“This was a great opportunity to bring Jennifer Connelly’s character into this film,” Kosinski enthused

Other new additions to the franchise include Jon Hamm, Jay Ellis (“Insecure”), Glen Powell (“Hidden Figures”) and Monica Barbaro (“Chicago Justice”).

Top Gun: Maverick hits theaters nationwide on May 27th.

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