Responsibility is a heavy word when it comes to legacy-quels like 2022’s new movie release Top Gun: Maverick. Following up a story like that of Tom Cruise’s Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell isn’t exactly an easy feat, which means that the people behind such an enterprise feel responsible for living up to its storied predecessor. However, in terms of actors like Monica Barbaro, there are other responsibilities that lead to some added pressures.
In the case of the woman behind the character of Lt. Natasha “Phoenix” Trace, that pressure came from her status as the lone female aviator seen engaging in the more strenuous parts of the film's mission. I learned as much when I was invited to participate in the press day to promote the home entertainment release of Top Gun: Maverick, courtesy of Paramount.
While she did acknowledge the other female cast member shown as part of the crew eligible for Maverick’s super secret mission, Barbaro admitted to CinemaBlend that Phoenix’s role in the plot pushed her to go a bit harder, which led to this very personal motivation:
The dedication that Monica Barbaro brought to Top Gun: Maverick ended up making her a rather mythic figure in the eyes of her co-stars and advisors. Aerial coordinator Kevin La Rosa was especially impressed, citing a lot of the aspects Barbaro mentioned above as feats that made an impression. Yet if you were to talk to the actress herself about this subject, she’d write off some portions as merely luck.
Monica Barbaro admitted as much in another point of this interview, conducted with her Top Gun sequel wingman Lewis Pullman present. He too praised her abilities, showcasing just how and why the chemistry between these stars rewrote their initial plot. Maintaining her humble attitude throughout the conversation, Barbaro further explained her thought process in the following context:
The training Top Gun: Maverick’s cast endured was no walk in the park for anyone involved. However, the consensus seems to point to the fact that Monica Barbaro was more than likely the MVP according to many who were there to witness it firsthand. That kind of perseverance makes for great stories and fantastic film moments that could propel director Joseph Kosinski’s legacy-quel into the realm of the best action movies to have ever existed.
You can judge for yourself if Top Gun: Maverick fits that bill, as the film is now available for purchase and rental in physical and digital formats. While those of you with a Paramount+ subscription are still waiting for an exact date as to when the movie will be available for streaming, it will indeed be that platform you’ll want to access when the time comes. Though you can currently watch the original Top Gun, should you want a refresher before Captain Mitchell’s next big adventure.
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Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.