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‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Director Explains Why Kelly McGillis and Meg Ryan Weren’t Asked Back for Sequel

Samantha Franco
(Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures / MovieStillsDB)

Top Gun: Maverick, once again starring Tom Cruise as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, is set to release in theatres on May 27. The long-awaited sequel will incorporate ’80s nostalgia from the original while also leaving behind some pivotal aspects to create a whole new film.

Mid-air cabin shot of Tom Cruise as Pete Mitchell in Top Gun: Maverick

Tom Cruise flying as Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell in ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ (Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures / MovieStillsDB)

In the 1986 film, Top Gun, the plot focuses on Mitchell’s fight to be the top pilot in his class. With a much older Cruise headlining the new film, Maverick shifts gears and instead focuses on Mitchell training a new group of young, hotshot pilots for a dangerous mission that involves the destruction of an enemy’s uranium stockpile.

The sequel will feature a cameo from Lieutenant Tom “Iceman” Kazansky himself, Val Kilmer, who has been battling throat cancer in recent years. However, director Joseph Kosinski doesn’t want the movie to look back into the past too much, saying it was important that Maverick introduce some new characters. As such, some roles had to be left behind. Kosinski confirmed with Insider that actresses Kelly McGinnis and Meg Ryan were not asked back to act in the sequel.

Photo of Kelly McGillis and Tom Cruise as Charlie and Maverick in the 1986 film Top Gun

Promo shot of Kelly McGillis as Charlie and Tom Cruise as Maverick in the 1986 film, ‘Top Gun’ (Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures / MovieStillsDB)

Because of this, Mitchell’s original love interest, Charlotte “Charlie” Blackwood, will not be in Maverick. Charlie was an astrophysicist and civilian instructor who originally denied Mitchell’s advances but eventually found herself romantically interested in the confident and dangerous pilot. Spoiler alert: the two end up together. But their romance obviously didn’t last the 36 years it took to make the sequel, as Mitchell has a new love interest Maverick.

Kelly McGinnis, who played Charlie, commented back in 2019 on her absence from the film. She candidly explained, “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.” McGinnis, now 64 years old, has barely acted in the past two decades and has instead been focusing on raising her children, getting sober, and improving her health after being diagnosed with Alpha-1 antitrypsin disorder. “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,” she said.

Headshot of actress Kelly McGillis

Actress Kelly McGillis onstage at the Langham Hotel on January 11, 2014 in Pasadena, California. (Photo Credit: Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images)

Mitchell’s new love interest, a single mother and daughter of an admiral who now owns the bar where the pilots of Top Gun go to unwind, is played by an age-appropriate 51-year-old Jennifer Connelly. Cruise and Connelly even recreate the iconic motorcycle-on-the-runway scene originally performed by Cruise and McGinnis in the 1986 film.

Movie still of Jennifer Connelly and Tom Cruise from Top Gun: Maverick

Jennifer Connelly and Tom Cruise in a scene from ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ (Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures / MovieStillsDB)

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Additionally, Meg Ryan, who played Carole Bradshaw, wife of Mitchell’s best friend Nick “Goose” Bradshaw, will also not be returning to the sequel. Ryan has not publicly commented on Maverick, and seems to have stepped away from acting altogether, her last film credit dating back to 2015.