Thirty-six years after Iceman, Hollywood and Cougar took to the skies in “Top Gun,” a new team of colorfully nicknamed characters are suiting up in “Top Gun: Maverick.”
This time, the aviators are recent graduates of the Navy’s elite fighter school, aka Top Gun, and they’re tasked with a near-impossible mission overseen by Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, the brash pilot played by Tom Cruise. Flying alongside Rooster, the son of the original film’s ill-fated Goose, are Hangman, Phoenix, Bob, Coyote, Fanboy and Payback, who must help destroy a foreign enemy’s uranium plant and get out alive. (Though the characters all have actual names, they’re introduced by their aviator call signs, and that’s how they’re known.)
The intensive tutelage began offscreen: Cruise monitored the actors’ progress during a grueling five-month training program that culminated in the cast shooting their own action sequences from the back of real F / A-18 jets flown by Navy fighter pilots.
Here’s a peek at the new generation of actors behind the call signs.
Age: 33 33
“Maverick” role: Hangman
Where you’ve seen him before: “Set It Up,” “Hidden Figures,” “Scream Queens”
‘Top Gun’: The Return of Maverick
Tom Cruise takes to the air once more in “Top Gun: Maverick,” the long-awaited sequel to a much-loved ’80s action blockbuster.
- Review:: The central question posed by the movie has less to do with the need for combat pilots in the age of drones than with the relevance of movie stars, our critic writes.
- Tom Cruise: At a time when superheroes dominate the box office, the film industry is betting on the daredevil actor to bring grown-ups back to theaters.
- A New Class:: Thirty-six years after Iceman, Hollywood and Cougar, a new team of colorfully nicknamed characters have suited up for the sequel.
- Filming Challenges: The aerial feats on show in “Top Gun: Maverick” look like the result of digital wizardry. They aren’t.
Powell originally auditioned to play Rooster (then called Rascal) but lost out to Miles Teller. Then, when Powell was offered the role that would become Hangman, he turned it down for fear it would be a copy-and-paste take on Val Kilmer’s cruise persuaded Powell to sign on, and they worked together to make the character distinctly Powell’s own. Still, the cocky, confrontational pilot shares more than a few traits with Iceman — as does Powell with Kilmer. When Powell “The last things that I moved out of my room were protein powder, weights and tequila,” Powell said “I’m literally wheeling them on a luggage cart into the elevator, and as the doors are about to close, Val steps in. He looks at me. Then he looks at the luggage cart. And he just started dying laughing. He’s like,’This is’Top Gun’right here.’ ”
“Maverick” role: Phoenix
Where you’ve seen her before: “The Good Cop, ”“ Chicago Justice, ”“ UnREAL ”
The military did not allow women to fly in combat until 1993, and in the first “Top Gun,” all of the Navy fighter pilot characters were men. Barbaro’s role in the sequel is a reflection of the service’s inclusive shift, and her filmed flights “When I found out I got the part, I was like,’Mom, I got it! And guess what? I get to play a pilot. I’m not a love interest!’ ”The Northern California native said.“ We used the women that we got to fly with as role models for how we designed the character. ”And while the actors were allowed to change their characters’ call signs, it quickly became clear during the cast’s downtime together that “Phoenix” was a good fit for Barbaro: “Let’s just say, we had one pretty wild night, and the next morning they were surprised that I arose from the ashes.”
Age: 28 28
“Maverick” role: Coyote
Where you’ve seen him before: “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Good Trouble,” “Chicago PD”
Not long before landing “Maverick,” Davis was an elementary schoolteacher in his home state of Louisiana. “I’m a big believer in following your dreams. I would preach that to my students,” Davis said. I wasn’t doing that — because my dream was to be an actor. So I decided to give it a shot. ”In a role reversal, Davis, who has gone by Tarzan since his own“ wild ”youth, said he felt like a kid throughout production, enthralled by the aviation toys and tasked with learning new things. While “Maverick” was in postproduction, he got a call from Christopher McQuarrie, the writer-director of “Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One”; the frequent Cruise collaborator was asking him to join the cast, no audition required. “I put the phone on mute and jumped up and down and screamed,” Davis said. “That was my first offer, and having an offer is an actor’s dream.”
“Maverick” role: Bob
Where you’ve seen him before: “Outer Range,” “Bad Times at the El Royale,” “Catch-22”
Of all the call signs, Pullman’s “Bob” (also his character’s first name) is the most mysteriously straightforward. “Bob is reclusive and quiet and a hard nut to crack,” Pullman said. he kind of earned his stripes, and Hangman says,’I think I know what Bob stands for: Big Ol’Balls.’ They didn’t end up using that, but it gave me a reference for Bob’s trajectory. He starts out as This unassuming guy, who then finds his strength. ”Pullman needed strength of his own when Cruise walked into the first table read. Despite being the son of the actor Bill Pullman, Lewis was star-struck.“ Tom basically ripped through the doors. His motorcycle in the background. He’s got his helmet on. The sun is glistening. He takes his helmet off, and his hair is perfect, ”he said.“ Tom is like Cary Grant and Buzz Aldrin and Buster Keaton and Evel Knievel all woven into one man. ”
“Maverick” role: Payback
Where you’ve seen him before: “Insecure,” “Escape Room,” “The Game”
Ellis distinctly recalls the day his father, who was then a mechanic in the Air Force, took him to see the first “Top Gun” in a theater on base in Austin, Texas. I want to do that. Whatever those guys are up there doing, I want to be a part of that somehow,’” he said. Rather than enlist, Ellis became an actor. Fast forward three decades, and he found himself shooting“ Maverick ”And paying homage to the original’s beach volleyball scene with a game of beach football as the camera panned over the cast’s glistening muscles for a sun-dappled montage.“ We probably went through five different types of oil because the makeup team was trying to figure. out what wouldn’t soak into everyone’s skin so quickly, ”Ellis said.“ We started out with baby oil, then we moved on to argan oil, coconut oil, avocado oil. We switched to glycerin at one point. They were spraying us. down with Evian bottles. It made for a very slippery game. ”
“Maverick” role: Fanboy
Where you’ve seen him before: “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, ”“ On My Block, ”“ Assassination Nation ”
Before signing on, the actors had to check a box attesting they weren’t afraid of flying. “I lied,” Ramirez said with a laugh. means he’ll be the one doing the stunts. ”Without his usual commercial-flight routine of wine and noise-canceling headphones, Ramirez found himself struggling not to vomit as his F / A-18 rolled and dove through the air. The actors For Ramirez, slowly building tolerance in incrementally smaller and faster planes was key. Adding to the degree of difficulty: They “I was like,’Are we going to get some kind of camera operator credit or what?’” He said. “I was like,’Are we going to get some kind of camera operator credit or what?’” He said. Having to line up another jet going 500 miles an hour to stay within the frame was an experience I’m probably never going to have again. ”