Top Gun: Maverick is packed with references and connections to the original movie, but didn’t pack its cast with returning stars.
Val Kilmer’s Iceman is the main return alongside Tom Cruise’s Maverick (of course), yet there’s no sign of Kelly McGillis’s Charlie or Meg Ryan’s Carole Bradshaw. What you might not know is that there is, technically, another Top Gun character brought back for the sequel.
In Charlie’s absence, Maverick is a singleton when we reunite with him in the sequel. However, shortly after he returns to Top Gun, he sees Jennifer Connelly’s Penny and starts flirting up a storm.
It’s revealed that they’ve had an on-off relationship over the years, with the off moments usually coming because of Maverick being, well, a Maverick. We don’t get to hear all of their history, but we have heard of one of their dalliances before way back in the original movie.
Early on in Top Gun, Maverick gets a dressing down by Commander Tom ‘Stinger’ Jardian after an unsanctioned fly-by.
“Son, your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash. You’ve been busted. You lost your qualifications as section leader three times. Put in hack twice by me, with a history of high speed passes over five air control towers and one admiral’s daughter,” he tells Maverick.
“Penny Benjamin?,” Goose asks Maverick and later in the bar, Carole jokes with Maverick about how Goose told her “all about the time you went ballistic with Penny Benjamin”.
Connelly’s character is that noted admiral’s daughter who, when we meet her for the first time in the sequel, is a single mother and bar owner. Unsurprisingly, Maverick and Penny start up their romance again, but hopefully this time it’ll stick as they’re together by the end of the movie.
Talking to The Hollywood Reporter, Connelly revealed that even though we don’t get the full story in the movie, she did talk with Cruise about how Penny and Maverick’s love story has played out over the years.
“I think that they had a few flings that didn’t pan out particularly well in the years between. We talked about their backstory and what that history might have been,” she explained.
“I really enjoyed the way Penny was written, but during the rehearsal process, there definitely were conversations about adjustments and revisions to the scenes. But the spirit of her character, from the first draft I read, was there on the page.”
Top Gun: Maverick is out now in cinemas.
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