Top Gun: Maverick director confirms Kelly McGillis & Meg Ryan weren’t asked back

Top Gun: Maverick’s opening is almost here. As most know, this has been a long time in coming. I think I’ve felt it more than most because my parents live across the bay for the USS Midway and every time a new premiere date was announced, they’d call me as if I could somehow secure them a ticket. I kept suggesting that since Dad was the high-ranking naval officer and Mom’s family has naval aviators, they stood a better chance than me of scoring a ticket.

Of course, none of us got a ticket, including two of the original film’s biggest stars: Meg Ryan and Kelly McGillis. Joseph Kosinski, Maverick’s director, confirmed that neither was asked to come back for this film. We know Kelly was not asked, she graciously explained a few years ago that no one had reached out to her. But now we have confirmation that Meg was left out too.

Top Gun: Maverick director Joseph Kosinski says filmmakers never considered bringing back the female characters played by Meg Ryan and Kelly McGillis in Top Gun for the film’s 2022 sequel.

“Those weren’t stories that we were throwing around,” Kosinski said in an interview with Insider published Tuesday.

McGillis, 64, previously played Top Gun instructor Charlie Blackwood while Ryan, 60, portrayed Goose’s wife Carole Bradshaw in the 1986 action movie.

However, according to Kosinski, filmmakers wanted to do something different with Top Gun: Maverick compared to the original film.

“I didn’t want every storyline to always be looking backwards,” Kosinski said. “It was important to introduce some new characters.”

[From People]

I’ll warn you now, Imma both sides this. I have no idea what the story is, beyond what we’ve seen in the trailer. But after all this time, it would make sense to progress the story and focus on new characters, like Kosinski said. Having Maverick in the role of a TG teacher was always interesting and the fact that he’s got Goose’s son in his class is a great way to tie in that story with a current-day angle. We know that Tom Cruise insisted Val Kilmer have a role in Maverick, which is a lovely act as a friend. And, Val’s character, Iceman, makes sense. That was the key relationship in TG. I like taking it into Maverick’s current career and seeing how Ice, who played by the rules, outranks Mav, who played by his own rules (and realistically would have been discharged about two years into active duty, but hey, this is Hollywood). I’m interested to see what they do with that and how Jon Hamm, who has to follow Ice’s orders, factors in as the new antagonist to Mav. Kosinski’s right. It’s a fine line between a complete nostalgia piece that works in a bunch of sentimental cameos and a movie that’s trying to movie the story forward.

But – and it’s a big but – we know Meg and Kelly weren’t asked back because they are 60-year-old women. Charley (Kelly) came back to Miramar to be with Maverick. She gave up everything she’d worked for to, what, teach some more? Charley could’ve graced the cover of a magazine as Business Person of the Year somewhere in the film. But Meg’s omission is the most egregious, she’s one of the main characters, Rooster’s mom. Meg could have had a voice cameo with a phone call to Maverick, telling him to take care of Rooster. She could pop up at the end to thank him. Granted, Meg was not a big star when TG was made but she certainly became one. It would’ve made sense to have her do something in this film. Although it sounds like women, in general, weren’t a priority in this film. So at least Kosinski kept that storyline from the first film.

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74 Responses to “Top Gun: Maverick director confirms Kelly McGillis & Meg Ryan weren’t asked back”

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  1. Becks1 says:

    So, I would buy the whole “the storylines just didn’t work” thing and they didn’t want to “face backwards” the whole time – if it was just a rehash of the first one, with the same love interest, the one other female character being the same, etc, then it would have been obvious it was nothing but an ego fest for Tom Cruise (I mean… it is….)

    The reason I don’t completely buy that though is because it works for Kelly Mcgillis but not for Meg Ryan. They can include her son from the first one but not her? Its okay to use Goose’s legacy, use his son, but not his wife? She didn’t have to have a huge role, but they certainly could have brought her in for a 5 minute scene at some point or something.

    • Danbury says:

      That’s why I don’t buy it either. But like the article said, this movie really doesn’t care about having women in it anyway…

      • Betsy says:

        And that made sense back then, that women wouldn’t at all be part of the story. Caveat this as appropriate since I was in kindergarten (or thereabouts) when it came out, but it went totally unremarked that women weren’t integral to this movie except as love interests. It generally went unremarked that women weren’t integral in most movies, actually.

      • SomeChick says:

        women still aren’t integral in most movies and it still goes unremarked, but yeah.

    • Eurydice says:

      Well, if it’s about Maverick remaking his life and also getting a new love interest, I don’t see where an ex-wife would fit in.

      • Becks1 says:

        Right, so that works for Kelly McGillis but not Meg Ryan.

      • Eurydice says:

        @Becks1 – I meant to say “ex-girlfriend and sorry, I misunderstood what you meant by “that works.” From the reviews, it seems the story does address the Goose backstory and Rooster’s resentment of Maverick, so I don’t know if it was necessary to bring in Meg to put an additional pin in it.

    • Escape says:

      I will not be watching this movie because it is a step backwards for our society that Tom Cruise can be in this movie but not Kelly McGillis. No one should go to this movie.

  2. Noki says:

    I feel bad for Meg Ryan who was one of the cutest holywood stars that she had to do that to her face. I am guessing for her she has become a face distraction and i feel the same about Mickey Rourke, but with him its easier cause he is a man and can get cast as all sorts ‘weird’ characters without his bad face work being an issue.

  3. Laura-Lee MacDonald says:

    I’m torn about this, too. Charlie would have left him given he’s clearly stuck in one place from his youth, but leaving out Roosters mom?! How do you think she’s doing with her son there? Ugh. Sigh.

  4. JFerber says:

    I totally go with the sexist, ageist theory. Because in the end, it always comes back to that. Just check your gut: are the women “too old” to be in Tom Cruise’s picture? You know damn well the answer.

  5. Ariel says:

    Kelly mcGillis was the love interest – but Meg Ryan, she was the joy in that first movie. She was the laughter and then the heartbreak.
    But 60 year old women don’t exist in Hollywood.
    Let’s just consider it a small mercy they aren’t pretending king Scientologist Tom cruise is still in his 20s like they did with that awful mummy movie.

    • Christine says:

      I agree, and I don’t think I would remember all that much about the original Top Gun, if not for the Anthony Edwards/Meg Ryan joy and then heartbreak. It would have been like any other action/adventure movie, those two characters were the heart and soul.

  6. Bettyrose says:

    This isn’t the story of Duke “Maverick” Cunningham’s criminal trial and prison time?

  7. TeamMeg says:

    Kelly looks great in these photos. Love her short haircut and no nonsense gaze. Would love to see her in a new, character driven film as the strong female lead.

    • Betsy says:

      I would like that, too.

      It’s a surprise to see a woman in Hollywood wearing an absolute no-nonsense haircut, too. There’s no attempt to be overtly sexy in that one-dimensional way that Hollywood always does it.

    • TeamMeg says:

      P.S. How about a Cagney and Lacey reboot? Or she could be chief of police in a cop show. Kelly come back! We love you!!

  8. emmi says:

    I very recently watched the first one on Netflix for the first time. It’s a trip. You expect this amazing movie and it’s just a bunch of dudes sweating at each other and the camera, bro-ing it up. The story is barely there, the love story is underwhelming, the acting is cheesy at times. I think maybe you had to see it as a teen or at the time to get it. Like Dirty Dancing (which I still love). Although that has better acting and a much better plot.

    Anyway. Let’s not kid ourselves. Kelly was never going to be asked, she dares to look like an attractive woman in her 60s. I’m sure it offended many of the men attached to this project. Meg Ryan I don’t get, she is still a name. Although her character was very much “cute wife” and not much more.

    • Haylie says:

      It really was a crummy film. I rewatched and couldn’t believe how bad the dialogue was.

      At least it had a good 80’s soundtrack.

      • Esmerelda says:

        Yep. It’s an old, silly, slow movie, saved only by Kenny Loggings’ music and Val Kilmer’s ability to spin that volleyball on one finger.
        The only thing I want to know about this new one is: who’s doing the soundtrack?

      • SarahCS says:

        My friend walked up the aisle at her wedding to Danger Zone.

        Backstory is that her husband is a big fan of the movie (we all still watch it too, all it’s flaws and all) so it was a brilliant thought and set the tone for the whole day nicely. To be fair my reasons for watching it to this day are
        1. Val Kilmer
        2. The soundtrack
        3. Beach volleyball

    • Becks1 says:

      I haven’t seen the movie in years and one of the reasons I refuse to is because I loved the movie as a child and I just want to keep it like that, lol. but I know logically when I think back on it was a bad movie.

      Except for the volleyball scene.

      • L84Tea says:

        I have revisited some childhood movies during the last couple of years, and yeah, some of them I should’ve just left alone because they’re pretty awful. Thankfully a few have really hung in there and are still genuinely enjoyable to watch.

        ETA: One revisited movie I watched during the pandemic, and forgot how much I loved is “Roxanne”. Such fun dialogue. Your volleyball comment made me think of it because Rick Rossovich (who played Slider in Top Gun) was in that one.

      • Becks1 says:

        We’ve watched a lot of 80s movies with our boys and there are some parts where I think “eeek this does not really hold up but hey its still X movie” and we watch it.

        There was one though….I think it was called Monster Hunters but I’m not sure….and we got 5 minutes in before the homophobic slurs started and we were like NOPE and turned that off. Def should have previewed that one first lol.

      • L84Tea says:

        @Becks1, was it “The Monster Squad”?? We watched that a year ago or so and I was basically like YIKES, NOPE!!!

      • whatWHAT? says:

        Roxanne has to be one of the sweetest, yet also funniest movies of all time. one of my all-time favorites.

        certainly, though, one that worked because of who played the lead…not sure it would be so dear to my heart with someone else in Steve Martin’s role.

    • Sunshine says:

      I’m not sure how accurate it is, but I heard this movie was really just pro-military propaganda. That being said, I haven’t watched it, but do love the music that was attached to it.

    • AnneL says:

      I remember liking and enjoying the movie when it came out, but also thinking it was cheesy. And the way he followed Charlie into the rest room when he was pursuing her? That was squicky to me even in the 80s.

      Another Tom Cruise movie that has to be re-watched because it’s so amusingly cheesy? “Cocktail.” I watched it a few months ago. It’s not a hate watch, it’s just……ridiculous, but not in an entirely bad way.

      I do think it’s nonsense that they didn’t bring Meg Ryan back for a cameo or something. What would the harm have been in that? Viewers who remembered the original fondly would be happy to see her, and people who never saw the original wouldn’t mind it at all, I imagine. She’s Rooster’s mother!

  9. JFerber says:

    Ariel: “But 60 year old women don’t exist in Hollywood.” Bingo. Or maybe they’re on screen for 3 seconds as the mother/grandmother, saying hello or goodbye to the main character.

    • BeanieBean says:

      Or batty old lady who swears a lot, because somehow an older woman cussing is supposed to be funny.

  10. JFerber says:

    And while the 60 year old woman is saying hello or goodbye to the main character, she’s in the house or in front of the house. Because that’s where she only exists in Hollywood. Tops, she could be a patron in a restaurant far from the main characters’ table.

  11. Lucy2 says:

    I’m a little surprised about Meg‘s character, watching the trailer it seemed the perfect vehicle for her to make a cameo.
    Unfortunately not at all surprised about Kelley‘s character, considering Tom Cruise has nipped and tucked himself and wants to convince us he’s still 40, you know whatever love interest he has is going to be in her 20s, maybe 30.

  12. goofpuff says:

    Tom can’t handle women his age or anything that makes him feel old. He is in constant mid life crisis. I’m sure he has a new 20 year old love interest who is probably in love with both him and goose’s son. totally believe it’s the sexist ageist crap that left them out of this movie. Top Gun was always about toxic bro stuff. the women were just set pieces.

    • Kate says:

      I think Jennifer Connelly plays his love interest – she’s younger than Kelly and Meg, but she’s 51 to Tom’s 59.
      Still won’t be shocked if it’s sexism though, and agree that it’s weird that Meg Ryan wouldn’t be invited back in any capacity since her character’s son features in this movie.

    • Digital Unicorn says:

      Wasn’t Cruise and Kelly involved after the film was made?

      • dcmama says:

        That’s not correct. It was Mimi Rogers, not Kelly McGillis. Mimi was involved in Scientology, and she and Tom were married.

      • Jaded says:

        No, Kelly McGillis was married at the time but came out in 2009 as a lesbian, something she had struggled with for a long time.

      • Ana170 says:

        No, they couldn’t stand each other.

    • Katie says:

      On top of that Scientology literally teaches that OT8s have super powers and should have the ability to defeat all human illnesses, including aging.

  13. smcollins says:

    I think in KM’s case it’s more than supposed ageism but also homophobia, since she came out a decade ago as a lesbian. This *is* a TC movie after all so it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if that was also a factor. As far as MR, yeah…her omission is a lot harder to explain away considering her character’s son is a main character. I’m sure a cameo could have at least been included.

    • Jennifer says:

      Yeah, I would bet Kelly being out, and looking no-nonsense these days, would not fly for them. I highly doubt she would have wanted to come back either, though.

      But no cameo from Meg is weird. Though i guess she waa also kinda retired(?) Until recently?

  14. Millennial says:

    Who even asked for this movie?? I can’t imagine there’s a huge audience for this. Sure some people remember the original fondly but it’s not like it has a huge cult following.

    • Christine says:

      You make a really good point. I was 12 when the original came out, and I loved it. But I was 12, and have never thought about it again, except for random moments where Goose dying breaks my heart. I certainly didn’t need another one.

  15. C-Shell says:

    Possibly the only thing that could have gotten me to see this film would have been an arc — no matter how brief — with Meg Ryan as Rooster’s mom. Otherwise, Cruise is still canceled.

  16. Merricat says:

    The target audience is middle-age men who desperately need to believe that they’ve still got it. Who is Tom Cruise if he isn’t running, jumping, stunting?

    • Julia K says:

      Expand that audience from middle age to old geezers

    • Eurydice says:

      There are a lot of young dudes in the cast – lots of action, flying, in-cockpit sequences, motorcycles, action, action, action. I think they’ll get more than geezers to show up.

      • Merricat says:

        Lol, definitely.

      • MonicaQ says:

        Yeah my friend who’s 36 and a pilot (private planes) and a big military aviation buff bought tix already to see it. I guess we now are old lol.

  17. Sandra says:

    I have no interest in seeing anything Tom Cruise is involved in. Period!

  18. Yo says:

    Doesn’t matter either way I’m not giving a sent to COS or that POS Tom Cruisewho uses COS slave workers and is buddies with abusive David Miscavage. WHERE IS HIS WIFE?!

    • Julia K says:

      Only one person knows the answer to that and he’s not talking.

    • Jaded says:

      Shelly is likely being kept at the Church of Spiritual Technology, a heavily-fortified complex near Lake Arrowhead, California where Scientologists are preparing for Armageddon. David had her sent there to be a “non-person” after she had some interaction with the C0$ board that he hadn’t sanctioned. The last time she was seen was 2007 when she attended her father’s funeral with a heavy security escort around her.

      Tom knows EXACTLY where she is.

  19. Sean says:

    Want to know why the original Top Gun is so horrible?

    It was conceived solely as a promotional vehicle for the US Navy. The Navy bankrolled its production. Sure the film has some big names in it. Names that are big now but at the time, most were either up-and-comers (like Cruise and Killer) or established character actors.

    Ever think about the plot? “Maverick” is a renegade who plays by his own rules. Over the course of the film he learns the value of teamwork, being a good “wingman” and obeying the directives of his superiors. Conformity beats individualism. Be a part of the greater good. Join the Navy!

    There were even recruiters for the Navy setting up shop outside of movie theaters during the film’s original run.

    Matthew Modine was actually the original choice for Maverick but he turned it down because he felt the film was just propaganda for the military.

    • Layla Beans says:

      The Simpsons did it better with “Yvan eht Nioj”.

    • Mrs.Krabapple says:

      I guess it was trying to convince people to the navy, which explains why the movie didn’t end the way it should (with Maverick never flying again due to his career-ending mistake that got Goose killed).

  20. phlyfiremama says:

    Meg Ryan doesn’t even LOOK like Meg Ryan anymore, honestly. Her botched plastic surgery makes her unrecognizable from her original character, so I get it. I am indifferent to Kelly, as well. That relationship wit Maverick was destined to crash and burn. 🤷

  21. MonicaQ says:

    Kelly McGillis runs a flag football tourney out of Key West and she is the sweetest woman. Down to earth, ready to pound a Twisted Tea, and really gracious with people who recognize her and go, “Wow, it’s the Top Gun lady!” as many people do that week. I’m sad she’s not in this movie; she would’ve been a great character.

    I haven’t seen the original Top Gun since I was in Marching Band in HS on the bus to a competition and I have no plans to really see this unless the husband wants to go. I am a xennial (or older millennial) so I didn’t get to see Top Gun in theaters and experience it.

    • Katie says:

      I’m a xennial and I saw it at a sleepover. I’m not great at remembering movie plots, but I do remember giggles over general cheesiness.

  22. KBeth says:

    I’m not remotely surprised they were excluded. They are women who dared to age since the first movie, Hollywood doesn’t allow this.

  23. SadieMae says:

    I would have liked to see McGillis return just to find out whether they would still pose her and Cruise to hide their significant height difference. Once you’re aware of it, a rewatch of the original becomes hilarious. She sits on a bar stool while he stands next to her. She leans against a wall while he stands upright next to her. Then there’s leaning on motorcycles, etc. All desperately trying to hide the fact that Tom Cruise is so short.

    I remember watching “The Secret of My Success” and being delighted when, near the end, Michael J. Fox and Helen Slater (who have a similar height difference to Cruise/McGillis) are standing in an elevator together and he goes to kiss her and, with a little grin, stands on his tiptoes. I always wondered if it was in the script or if it was an ad-lib by Fox. Either way, it was charming and kind of sexy. But you know Tom Cruise would never do something like that!

  24. Ana170 says:

    Kelly also didn’t bet asked back because, iirc, she trashed TC every chance she got for years after the first movie came out. It was common knowledge at the time that they didn’t like each other. As for Meg, I don’t know. I don’t remember her character being especially important to the plot of the first movie so I don’t know why they’d need her 40 years later.

  25. Penn Central says:

    I enjoyed the movie in 1986. 30+ years way too long for a sequel; really. Everyone is older now. All this seems like a clone Mission Impossible Tom Cruise vanity vehicle wrapped in a leather bomber jacket. Meh. (BTW And in no way are are there any artists today who could make as classy a soundtrack like the original)

  26. Bisynaptic says:

    …which is why I won’t be seeing the film.

  27. Ladiabla says:

    They chose Miles Teller to play Anthony Edwards’ and Meg Ryan’s son? Yuck I cannot stand that guy. Don’t understand why they wouldn’t ask Meg back, maybe she just wasn’t interested ?

  28. Penguin says:

    The biggest reason Kelly McGillis isn’t in that film is that it would remind people how old Tom Cruise is and the fact that he hasn’t grown at all since the first movie was released. Just vile.

  29. Gloria says:

    i read the producers comments as “They both are not young and hot enough to be some pretty wallpaper in the background”.

  30. Nuzzy says:

    This gets at one of my pet peeves: action movies that keep the male core characters and switch the women out at will, because it’s not like they ever mattered to the story, anyway. Ugh.