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Top Gun: Maverick Director Explains Why Meg Ryan And More OG Actors Aren’t Back For The Sequel

Meg Ryan crying in Top Gun
(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Top Gun: Maverick will pay homage to the original movie in so many ways. From the return of Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer to Jennifer Connelly’s casually mentioned character Penny finally appearing onscreen, the nostalgia is strong. While there are Easter eggs in the sequel, there are glaring omissions from the film. Namely, original female leads Meg Ryan and Kelly McGillis aren’t mentioned or seen in the follow-up. After receiving some pushback from some OG fans, Maverick’s director explained why the actresses and more OG actors weren’t asked back for the sequel.

Leaving out Ryan and McGillis threw some moviegoers off considering how pivotal they were to the original film. The You’ve Got Mail actress played “Goose” Bradshaw’s wife Carole in the 1986 blockbuster while the Witness actress was “Maverick” Mitchell’s love interest Charlotte "Charlie" Blackwood. While both women had a major presence in the original movie, Top Gun: Maverick director Joseph Kosinski revealed on ReelBlend that neither character came up during the sequel’s development. Kosinski was blunt about why the characters didn’t get brought back. He said they:

Not in the story that I worked on. Clearly, their spirits hang over the film in certain ways. There is a glimpse, as you guys know, of both of them in the film. But it was important that we wanted to make sure we were telling a new chapter of Maverick's life. We didn't want to be looking back the whole time. So, we've got his relationship with Penny Benjamin (which) is the focus of this story. Which, you know, for the diehard fans is a fun one because she was only mentioned briefly in (Top Gun). Just that one line (of dialogue) was a great starting point for this whole new character.

Well, there you have it. Now, fans can stop asking about the lack of Ryan and McGillis in the Top Gun sequel. With so many new characters being introduced, there wasn’t enough story or screentime to bring back the OG female leads. The sequel doesn’t lack a female presence with Connelly, Monica Barbaro, Jean Louise Kelly, and Chelsea Harris playing significant roles. But that doesn’t mean Carole and Charlie won’t be missed.

Of course, the new film has replaced Cruise’s original romantic interest with Connelly’s Penny. Although this turned some heads Kelly McGillis has been part of the Hollywood scene for years. Although she seemed okay with not being asked to return for the follow-up.

But the Sleeping in Seattle actress’ omission is more confounding. In the film’s context, she would be ‘Rooster” (played by Miles Teller)’s mother as he is Goose and Carole’s offspring. Having her in the sequel would’ve been a great way to fill in some blanks between Rooster’s upbringing and becoming a fighter pilot, four decades after his father’s death. Meg Ryan could’ve served as the connecting line between the rookie pilot and Maverick. Compared to her Top Gun co-star, the Hollywood veteran hasn’t spoken about her non-appearance in the high-flying sequel.

But Ryan hasn’t been twiddling her thumbs waiting for a callback. She is poised to make her awaited return to romantic comedies as she stars in and directs What Happens Later with David Duchovny as her co-star. Despite not popping up in the Top Gun sequel, the original movie is still considered one of her best movies. After watching those films, you can see Top Gun: Maverick, which is getting rave reviews, when it arrives in theaters on May 24. The sequel is one of the multiple upcoming movies hitting theaters just in time for the summer. Maybe if the sequel is successful, we’ll get a threequel with Ryan and Kelly McGillis getting significant roles or cameos, at least.

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