Top Gun Maverick: Jennifer Connelly was already in the original film… and you didn’t…

Oscar winner in 2002, Jennifer Connelly flew alongside Tom Cruise in “Top Gun Maverick”, currently in the cinema. If his character appears for the first time in this sequel, he was nevertheless mentioned in the original film.

From the first Top Gun in 1986, we obviously keep in mind Kelly McGillisaka “Charlie” Blackwood, an instructor to Navy pilots who engages in a passionate and torrid affair with Tom “Maverick” Cruise. We also remember a young Meg Ryanwhich had not yet upset the romcom with When Harry Met Sally Where Sleepless nights in Seattle. We forget, however, that a third female character was quickly mentioned twice in Tony Scott’s film.

Summoned to the office of Commander “Stinger” (James Tolkan) at the beginning of the film, “Goose” and “Maverick” are reprimanded for having disobeyed orders and escorted their fellow aircraft carrier “Cougar”, in the midst of a panic attack. “You have been sanctioned. You have been suspended three times as a patrol leader. Punished on the ground twice, and at my request. You also have a history of five passages at very low altitude level with the control towers… and of an admiral’s daughter to boot.”

Top gun maverick: jennifer connelly was already in the original film... And you didn't...
Paramount Pictures

“Goose” and “Maverick” in “Top Gun”

“Penny Benjamin?” then launches “Goose” (Anthony Edwards) to his flight partner. Later in the film, as they reunite with Carole, “Goose’s” companion (Meg Ryan), in a bar near the military base, she takes pleasure in reminding him of his somersaults with “Admiral’s Daughter” in front of Charlie (Kelly McGillis). “You know, he’s the one who told me how you got into orbit one night with Penny Benjamin… Yes, Goose tells me about all your good luck!”

Top gun maverick: jennifer connelly was already in the original film... And you didn't...
Paramount Pictures

Kelly McGillis, Meg Ryan and Tom Cruise in “Top Gun”

It is therefore this famous Penny Benjamin that Tom Cruise and the production team have chosen to integrate into the story of Top Gun Maverick. Indeed, according to the director Joseph Kosinskyit was never considered to bring back “Charlie” or Carole during the writing process of the sequel, which already integrates “Iceman” (Val Kilmer) and the son of “Goose” (“Rooster”, camped by Miles Teller). “I didn’t want the film to constantly look back”explains the filmmaker to “It was important to introduce new characters”.

And among them, new pilots…and Penny Benjamin. “He’s a character we’ve heard of but never seen before,” indicates the director*. “It was an incredible opportunity to integrate the character of Jennifer Connelly in this film”. Aged 51 and eight years the youngest of Tom Cruisethe actress was 15 years old at the time of the release of Top Gun. Revealed by Once upon a time in America by Sergio Leone, she then distinguished herself with Dario Argento (phenomenon), Jim Henson (Labyrinth), Dennis Hopper (Hotspot), Joe Johnston (Rocketeer) or Alex Proyas (DarkCity), before exploding thanks to Requiem for a Dream and especially An exceptional man which earned her the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 2002.

Top gun maverick: jennifer connelly was already in the original film... And you didn't...

Jennifer Connelly and her Oscar in 2002

Married to Paul “Vision” Bettanyshe discovered the Marvel universe before him by playing Betty Ross in the Hulk by Ang Lee, before joining the MCU as the voice of Karen in Spider-Man Homecoming. She also starred in the series Snowpiercer and in front of the cameras of Walter Salles (Dark Water), Edward Zwick (Blood Diamond), Scott Derrickson (The Day the Earth Stood Still), Ron Howard (The dilemma), Darren Aronofsky (Noah), Robert Rodríguez (Alita: Battle Angel) or Joseph Kosinski, who directed her in the firefighter movie line of fire in 2017 before finding her on Top Gun Maverick.

Her character of Penny Benjamin, divorced single mother, owner of The Hard Deck bar where Top Gun pilots meet and outstanding navigator in her spare time, is central to the film. “Brilliant, independent and happy”, according to the actress*, she embodies the life and the future that could await Maverick away from the Navy. “Penny and Maverick had a brief romance when they were young and have rekindled their relationship several times over the years. Although things always end amicably, they’ve had enough breakups that she’s determined not to re-engage. But it feels like, for the first time, they may have reappeared in each other’s lives at the right time.”.

Top gun maverick: jennifer connelly was already in the original film... And you didn't...
Backgrid USA / Bestimage

Jennifer Connelly and Tom Cruise at the ‘Top Gun Maverick’ premiere on May 4, 2022

Successful and tender, playing in particular on the age of the two characters and their performers and the notion of passing time, the scenes between the two former lovers take them to sea, where Penny takes the helm and directs a neophyte Maverick, then in the air where the latter embarks it in the own P-51 Mustang Red Tail of Tom Cruise… driven by Tom Cruise. At sea or in the skies, it is now accompanied that “Maverick” fixes the horizon.

As for Kelly McGillisinterviewed by EntertainmentTonight in 2019 about the film, she said: “I’m old and I’m fat, I have a normal physique for my age, and I don’t think that’s what the film needs. I’d rather feel good about myself and with my age than give importance to all these other things. (…) Now, I’m not going to rush to the cinema to see the film, nor avoid the cinemas so as not to see it. It’s just that it’s not in my priorities.”

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