Here's Where You Know The Cast Of Top Gun: Maverick From

When "Top Gun" premiered in 1986, its cast of hot young stars were still mostly at the beginning of their careers. Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer, Anthony Edwards, Meg Ryan, and more would all be catapulted to superstardom by the film, which was about a naval flight school. Its over-the-top soundtrack, shirtless volleyball scenes, and instantly-quotable dialogue had everyone feeling the need... the need for speed!

And then it took over three decades to make a sequel. "Top Gun: Maverick" brings Cruise's hotshot pilot back to the skies; this time around, he's bringing a new class of fighter pilots along for the ride. And it really was Cruise who brought the actors into the cockpit; the action star, who also served as a producer on the film, literally taught his co-stars how to fly. "I developed a whole program for the actors ... It was every step of the way. I had to teach them how to fly. I had to teach them how to handle Gs. I had to get them confident in the airplane," Cruise told Total Film.

The sequel was delayed numerous times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it finally hit theaters in May 2022. As you are introduced to the new naval aviators who make up the world of "Top Gun: Maverick," with instant-classic code-names like Harvard and Rooster, you may be wondering where you've seen them before. Never fear; we've got your flight class roster right here.

Tom Cruise is the titular Maverick

If you recognize anyone in the cast of "Top Gun: Maverick," it's probably Tom Cruise. The actor (and notorious Scientologist) launched his career in the early 80s in films such as "Risky Business," "The Outsiders," "Cocktail," and, yes, the original "Top Gun." He has since gone on to star in "War of the Worlds," "Interview with the Vampire," and the "Mission: Impossible" franchise, among many other box office smashes; the actor also frequently makes headlines for his personal life, from the aforementioned Scientology connection to his ill-fated marriages to stars like Nicole Kidman and Katie Holmes.

In both naval aviator films, Cruise plays Maverick, a hotshot naval aviator pilot. Back in 1990, Cruise told Playboy (via Gizmodo) that making a sequel to the film would be "irresponsible" because he felt that people misinterpreted the original move as right-wing propaganda. He compared the film to an amusement park ride rather than a political statement, explaining, "​​'Top Gun' should be looked at as going on Space Mountain — it's like a simple fairy tale."

Still, decades later, Cruise was finally ready to revisit his flyboy. He told Slashfilm that it all depended on finding the right script for the sequel, which became "Top Gun: Maverick." He recalled, "None of the stories worked. And films, it's not like you just have the script. You have an idea and you start to know that we're onto something emotional and what effects we want to create for the audience."

Val Kilmer's Iceman is back

Aside from Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer is one of the only original "Top Gun" cast members to reprise their role in the sequel. Kilmer famously played Iceman, a fighter pilot at the top of the TOPGUN class, but even though his spiked blonde hair became iconic, he was almost not even part of the original film. In the Amazon Original documentary "Val" (via Screenrant), which chronicles the actor's career, he revealed that he "felt the script was silly and disliked warmongering films." Still, the film helped launch Kilmer's career as an action star. He went on to play Jim Morrison in a biopic about "The Doors," acted in "True Romance," and starred as Doc Holliday in the classic western "Tombstone," before winning what is perhaps his most famous role: Batman, in "Batman Forever."

The actor has been public about his cancer diagnosis, which led to a tracheotomy; this meant his voice in "Top Gun: Maverick" was recreated with AI, according to the Independent. Much as he was hesitant about joining the cast of the original film, it turns out his co-star was a big part of why Kilmer returned to the role decades later. "We all wanted him, but Tom was really adamant that if he's going to make another 'Top Gun,' Val had to be in it," producer Jerry Bruckheimer told People.

Lewis Pullman's father is his biggest fan

Much as the original "Top Gun" launched the careers of its stars like Tom Cruise, there are a whole crop of up-and-coming young actors waiting for their chance at superstardom thanks to the sequel. One such actor is Lewis Pullman, who plays a character simply named Bob in the new film. Discussing the role (which required him to learn to fly, despite his fear of heights) with TMZ, Pullman revealed, "Dude, I puked so much... I'll be the first to admit it." 

While "Top Gun: Maverick" is by far the biggest project he's worked on, Pullman has been around Hollywood for years; he played a hotel employee opposite stars like Chris Hemsworth and Dakota Johnson in "Bad Times at the El Royale," and in Hulu's adaptation of "Catch-22" with George Clooney, Pullman played the memorably-named Major Major.

Pullman may look familiar for another reason: he's the spitting image of his father, actor Bill Pullman, who led classics like "Independence Day" and "Spaceballs." Lewis' famous father has nothing but glowing things to say about his son's talents. The proud papa told People, "I think he is a better actor than I am, so I am smart if I steal from him, to be able to get as good."

Miles Teller was afraid of getting too famous

Some films become iconic in part because of their soundtrack; the original "Top Gun" was one, featuring instant hits like "Take My Breath Away" and the ultra-campy "Danger Zone," the latter of which was sung by Kenny Loggins. Loggins was known for his soundtracks in the 80s, including for "Footloose;" fittingly, "Top Gun: Maverick" star Miles Teller first rose to fame in the 2011 remake of "Footloose," which featured Loggins' songs from the original film. Teller has since gone on to star in hits like "The Spectacular Now," "Divergent," and found-footage party movie "Project X." He received critical acclaim for his performance in "Whiplash," where he played an obsessive drummer opposite J.K. Simmons, who won an Oscar for his role.

In "Top Gun: Maverick," Teller plays "Rooster," mustachioed son of Goose, Anthony Edwards' character from the original. He told Men's Health that he was hesitant about taking the role, because he didn't want it to make him too famous. "There was a part of me that didn't know if I wanted to be a part of something that could bring that much attention and success to me," he said. Still, he told PTI (via the Hindustan Times), "When Tom Cruise handpicks you to be his co-star in a movie and to play the son of Goose, those are big shoes to fill. So I just felt like if Tom thinks I'm the right guy, then I think I'm the right guy too." 

Penny Benjamin is played by Jennifer Connelly

Though the love interests in the original "Top Gun" were Kelly McGinnis and Meg Ryan, Jennifer Connelly stars in "Top Gun: Maverick" as Penny, Maverick's former flame who was mentioned in the first film. She owns a bar near the flight school where Maverick works, and trailers for the film show the two taking a meaningful motorcycle ride together, suggesting their romance might just be rekindled.

At the film's premiere, Connelly told The Upcoming that she thinks, despite the film's delays, "Top Gun: Maverick" is coming out at the perfect moment. "I think it's a great time because everyone's ready to get together and have a joyful, collective experience in movie theaters." she reflected. "This is the kind of movie that's perfect for a big screen."

Connelly, who won an Oscar for her role in "A Beautiful Mind," has been acting since she was a young girl; the star played opposite David Bowie in "Labyrinth," romanced superheroes in "The Rocketeer" and Ang Lee's "Hulk," and spiraled into drug addiction with Jared Leto in "Requiem for a Dream." Connelly later credited "Requiem" for kickstarting a new phase of her career, telling Vulture, "Having started as a kid and having had a very different relationship to acting and making movies for many years, it was a foray into a different kind of way of working."

Glen Powell stars as Hangman

In 2018, Netflix released "Set It Up," an instant-classic rom com about two assistants who try to set their bosses up on dates and wind up falling in love themselves. The film catapulted its male lead, Glen Powell, to internet-boyfriend status; Buzzfeed published "22 Glen Powell Instagrams That'll Make You Fall In Love," while Popsugar's roundup of pics of the hunky star was titled "Set US Up!" Powell told Decider that filming the movie's climactic kiss was more stressful than you'd think. "Every person had an opinion about what the end of a rom-com should look like, and what this kiss should look like, and I have never felt more insecure about the way I kiss than in that final scene," he said. 

Powell had previously starred in projects like Richard Linklater's "Everybody Wants Some!" and Ryan Murphy's "Scream Queens," where he played hilariously-named frat boy Chad Radwell.

In "Top Gun: Maverick," Powell plays Hangman, a pilot who Powell described to Entertainment Weekly as a bit of a goofball. "He would probably consider himself the greatest weapon the navy's ever produced," Powell said. "He's a cocky pilot who has a good time flying. In a very intense movie, he's having the best time of anybody."

Manny Jacinto loves his Good Place 'family'

Manny Jacinto was one of the breakouts of "The Good Place," the Kristen Bell-starring sitcom about the afterlife; Jacinto played the lovably-dumb Jason Mendoza, a fan-favorite. The show ran for four years; reflecting on the final days of filming, Jacinto told Thrillist, "At the end of the day, it really sucks that we had to end this .... We have each other's numbers. We're going to keep in touch ... We're all family still."

While it was "The Good Place" that launched him to fame, Jacinto has kept busy since the hit NBC show ended. Fans may also recognize him from starring in Amazon's romcom "I Want You Back," Netflix's horror series "Brand New Cherry Flavor," or from Hulu's wellness mystery "Nine Perfect Strangers," in which he acted opposite mega-stars like Nicole Kidman and Melissa McCarthy.

In "Top Gun: Maverick," Jacinto plays Fritz, one of the new class of fighter pilots. Still, at the film's premiere, Jacinto paid homage to the movie's main draw. "It's the Tom Cruise Show," he told Movie Roar. "That's what it is. It's 'Top Gun: Maverick' coming in after thirty years of everybody waiting, which is pretty incredible ... Tom is the only person who can deliver something like this."

Insecure's Jay Ellis plays Payback

Few television characters have caused as much online chatter in recent memory as Jay Ellis's Lawrence on Issa Rae's HBO comedy "Insecure." Fans loved to debate the long-term boyfriend of Rae's character, picking apart his motivations, his actions, and their consequences, such as his baby with someone who was very much not Issa. "Rewatching Insecure from the beginning and babyyy, I am triggered by Lawrence," one fan tweeted in 2022. Still, Ellis told GQ that his character's ups and downs were all part of the process. "It's supposed to be a little messy," he said. "You're supposed to stumble a little bit — that's how you get to the other end."

In "Top Gun: Maverick," Ellis plays a pilot nicknamed Payback. He had nothing but glowing things to say about his maverick co-star, recalling in GQ, "Tom was amazing. He was a mentor, he was a friend, he was a filmmaker, he was a producer, and he was a dude you wanted to grab a drink with." The role as an aviator was particularly fitting for Ellis, who told BlackTree TV that he first saw "Top Gun" as a child and "had lived on a bunch of different air force bases all of over the place." He has family with the same experiences as his character, recalling, "My dad was in the Air Force, my grandfathers were in the Air Force, and it was just around you, every single day." 

Monica Barbaro plays a pilot named Phoenix

While the original students at the TOPGUN flight school were dudes, Monica Barbaro plays a pilot named Phoenix in "Top Gun: Maverick." She told The Hollywood Reporter that she saw the first film in college and remembered thinking, "Man, it'd be so cool to do a movie like that. But, you know, I never thought I would have a place in that." Still, she won the role; after filming, Barbaro made a video on behalf of the US Navy thanking the actual naval aviators who helped her train for the role, shouting out women with call signs like "Bacon" and "Dragon," who she said answered "thousands of questions." 

Though this is by far Barbaro's highest-profile project, fans may recognize her from a number of since-canceled television shows, including "The Good Cop," "Chicago Justice," and "Splitting Up Together." She also played Yael on the second season of Lifetime's "UnREAL," one of the reality show contestants vying for the affection of a hunky don't-call-him-a-bachelor on the dating show within the show. Her character was constantly compared to Shiri Appleby's mess of a producer, and Barbaro told Cosmopolitan that the comparisons rang true. "We're constantly being compared in this industry, and I used to do ballet, so in that industry, it's just like, body type, face type, your ethnicity," she said. "It almost gets to the point where it's so much a part of our daily lives you just kind of have to forget it." 

Raymond Lee is a TV star

Raymond Lee has been working in television for a decade at this point. Guest spots on shows like "How I Met Your Mother" and "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" led to bigger roles in shows like HBO's "Here and Now," where he played Duc Bayer-Boatwright. In 2021, Lee starred as Sam on AMC's "Kevin Can F**k Himself," a meta-comedy about a long-suffering wife married to a typical sitcom slob. Lee told Show Snob that it was the perfect role, because he'd always loved sitcoms best growing up. "I can't even remember watching an actual drama. I just wasn't drawn to it," he said. "I thought the entire world should function as a sitcom would." 

While Lee had a role in 2022 as Officer Gomez in the Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum romantic comedy "The Lost City," "Top Gun: Maverick" marks his first stab at blockbuster stardom. He joined the cast of the long-delayed film all the way back in 2018, announcing on his Facebook that the news had been reported in the trades. "It's deadline official. I'm joining Top Gun: Maverick!" he wrote.

There's more good news from Deadline for Lee to share with his friends and fans; the outlet announced in March 2022 that he will lead the cast of NBC's "Quantum Leap" reboot, the sci-fi series that featured Scott Bakula as a time-hopping scientist. The new version of the story was ordered to series in May 2022.

Jon Hamm is one of Top Gun's most famous faces

Unlike most of the new cast members in "Top Gun: Maverick," who are, mostly, relatively fresh faces compared to returning cast members like Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer, Jon Hamm is a certified star. The actor is equally at home in dramas like "Mad Men" and on comedies like "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt," and since his iconic AMC series ended in 2015, he has kept busy in films like "Tag," "Lucy in the Sky," and Clint Eastwood's "Richard Jewell."

He also starred opposite his "Top Gun: Maverick" co-star Lewis Pullman in "Bad Times at the El Royale." Hamm was particularly proud of his participation in that project, telling an interviewer on the press junket that he liked how original the story was. "It's not based on a comic book, or a video game, or a board game, or an amusement park ride, or anything else," he pointed out. "It just exists in its own thing, so there isn't, like, a Wikipedia page on it that everyone's like, 'This is the whole story and this is what you should expect.'" 

In "Top Gun: Maverick," Hamm's character is named Cyclone. Though the character is new to the "Top Gun" world, Hamm explained his role to GQ, telling the magazine, "I play the boss, the guy who's shaking his finger and telling Tom Cruise that he's writing checks his body can't cash. It's exciting."

Jake Picking is a Hollywood star

Jake Picking's role in "Top Gun: Maverick" was largely kept under wraps ahead of the film's premiere, but he revealed in #legend Magazine that he went through the same flight training as most of the cast in order to play his character. "The way in which it was filmed has simply never been attempted before technologically, which should translate to an incredibly authentic viewing experience," he revealed proudly, adding that he received flight training on actual military bases. "The most challenging part was the first few flight lessons and taking off with no hands-on help," he admitted.

Picking's most recognizable role was as Hollywood icon Rock Hudson in Ryan Murphy's Netflix series "Hollywood," which imagined what classic Hollywood might have looked like if minorities were better represented on-screen decades earlier than our modern era. He also acted in Alison Brie's "Horse Girl," in which his character raps; he told Awards Watch that the musicality of the role came naturally to him. "It's just a part of some of the high schools in Boston and then some of the locker rooms, there was a lot of freestyle rapping," he remembered. "I was kind of that loner in high school; I would go back to my room and do Garage Band and listen to Kid Cudi stuff."

Jean Louisa Kelly is not taking Meg Ryan's place

Jean Louisa Kelly plays Sarah Kazansky in "Top Gun: Maverick." When the casting was announced, Kelly was rumored to be taking Meg Ryan's role from the original film; that doesn't seem to be the case. In fact, Ryan wasn't asked to return for the "Top Gun" sequel, and the film was never meant to include her character. The film's director Joseph Kosinski told Insider, "I didn't want every storyline to always be looking backwards. It was important to introduce some new characters." Instead, we should note, "Kazansky" was the last name of Val Kilmer's character Iceman.

In addition to having appeared in the classic John Candy comedy "Uncle Buck," Kelly is best recognizable to audiences as a TV star, having had guest spots on shows as varied as "CSI: Miami," "The Fosters," "Burn Notice," and "Mad About You." Her most famous role was as Kim Warner on 122 episodes of "Yes, Dear," the hit sitcom that co-starred Anthony Clark and Mike O'Malley. Kim was the exasperated wife of Clark's character, dealing with the fact that her sister and her hapless husband have moved into the guest house. Years after the show ended, the actor told Yummy Mummy Club that she loved the sitcom life. "I'm afraid I'm totally spoiled," she admitted. "You don't get too many opportunities in your acting life to be on a long-running series. The older I get, the more I realize how hard it is to get on something that sticks."

Ed Harris plays a Rear Admiral

Like Jon Hamm, Ed Harris brings decades of experience to the new cast of "Top Gun: Maverick." The actor got his start on television back in the 70s, and by the following decade, he was headlining films like "Places in the Heart," "Creepshow," and "The Abyss." The four-time Oscar nominee is perhaps best recognizable for his roles in "Apollo 13" and "The Truman Show," as well as playing John Glenn in "The Right Stuff" and the Man in Black on "Westworld." He was nominated for an Emmy in the latter role, but he told Variety that he was trying not to put too much emphasis on the honor. "​​As the years go by, it's important to stay relaxed, focused, and not take things too seriously," he reflected. "You have to remember that eventually, none of this stuff's going to matter one way or another. So you want to do the things that you care about with the people you like, and do them to the best of your ability."

In "Top Gun: Maverick," Harris has a smaller role as a Rear Admiral; Forbes wrote that the actor "provide[s] grown-up interest" in the cast, considering how young most of his co-stars are. Still, Harris likely doesn't mind that he's one of the older stars in the cast; he told Vanity Fair in 2018, "[Acting is] a lifelong situation. It's a relentless focus and it's a never-ending journey, y'know, until you drop dead."