What happened to Top Gun stars who AREN'T in the sequel

The lost faces of Top Gun: As Tom Cruise takes to the skies again in Maverick sequel, a look at what happened to his original co-stars who WON’T reprise their roles – from Viper actor Tom Skerritt to on-screen sirens Meg Ryan and Kelly McGillis

  • Leading man Tom Cruise, 59, was the only Top Gun star asked to return for the 2022 sequel Top Gun: Maverick
  • Val Kilmer, 62, who played Maverick’s nemesis Iceman in the first movie, claims he had to ‘beg’ producers to let him be in the sequel – and he’s the only other major star from the original to appear in the new installment
  • Director Joseph Kosinski said he didn’t ask back Kelly McGillis, 64, who played Maverick’s love interest, and Meg Ryan, 60, who played Goose’s wife, because he ‘didn’t want every storyline be looking backwards’
  • Tom Skerritt, 88, who played Viper, filmed but feels he won’t make it on camera while Michael Ironside, 72, who played Jester, feels he wasn’t asked back due to his beef with producer Jerry Bruckheimer

Top Gun: Maverick is set to hit theaters in just a few days but die-hard fans of the original 1986 film Top Gun film may be disappointed to learn that most of the stars who appeared in the iconic first installment will not be making an appearance in its sequel.

In fact, only two original cast members are set to return: leading man Tom Cruise – who was the only original star actually asked to return – and his on-screen nemesis Val Kilmer – who recently revealed that he actually had to ‘beg’ producers to add him to the cast list. 

Tom, now 59, and Val, now 62, will reprise their iconic roles of Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell and Tom ‘Iceman’ Kazansky, respectively, when the Top Gun sequel hits theaters on May 27 – 30 years after they first brought the roles to life on the big screen. 

But while there will be two familiar faces leading the cast in the latest Top Gun offering, there are also plenty of much-loved stars missing from the line-up, including on-screen sirens Meg Ryan and Kelly McGillis, with director Joseph Kosinski explaining that he didn’t want to simply reprise the original storyline three decades later, but rather breathe new life into the iconic military movie. 

For some characters, it makes sense for them not to return. Anthony Edwards played Maverick’s notorious alley Goose who died during the film.

Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer, pictured in the 1986 film Top Gun, were the only cast members who returned for the 2022 sequel Top Gun: Maverick

Others were caught off guard by the fact that their characters weren’t written into Top Gun: Maverick – especially those who made a name for themselves with the film like the cast of lieutenant juniors played by Adrian Pasdar, Whip Hubley, Rick Rossovich, Barry Tubb and more.

Audiences first met Maverick and the rest of this cast of characters in the original 1986 version of Top Gun in which he is recruited to train in the prestigious Top Gun Naval Fights Weapon School. The reckless rebel struggles to fit in and ruffles some feathers, especially those of Iceman. 

In Top Gun: Maverick, Maverick returns to become a test pilot after 30 years of fighting in the Navy. This time, Maverick is in charge and responsible for training a new group of recruits.  

And new recruits means a new cast. The franchise’s new faces include Jennifer Connelly, Miles Teller, Monica Barbaro, Glen Powell, Ed Harris and many more.

But as for those who won’t be on the big screen during the Top Gun: Maverick premiere, here’s what they’re up to today.

Meg Ryan didn’t return for Top Gun: Maverick after ‘burning out’ from acting

Meg Ryan played Goose’s wife, Carole, in Top Gun at 25 years old, as pictured left, but wasn’t asked to return for the 2022 sequel Top Gun: Maverick

Ryan went on to become one of the most successful rom com stars of the 90s, appearing in leading roles in a slew of major movies, including When Harry Met Sally (left, 1989), Sleepless in Seattle (center, 1993), and You’ve Got Mail (right, 1998)

Meg Ryan was just 25 years old when she played Carole Bradshaw, one of Maverick’s co-pilot Nick ‘Goose’ Bradshaw’s wife. 

After Top Gun, the now-60-year-old went on to become the queen of rom coms during the 90s, starring in When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail and Sleepless in Seattle.

She became one of the biggest names in Hollywood, but her career took a nose dive after receiving harsh criticism for her 2003 erotic thriller In the Cut. 

However, the backlash didn’t get her down too much. ‘I think the feeling with Hollywood was mutual, she told The NY Times in 2019. ‘I felt done when they felt done, probably.’ 

The former actress felt ‘burnt out’ and admitted that becoming an actress was never a lifelong dream of hers.

‘I felt in a crazy way that, as an actor, I was burning through life experiences,’ she told the outlet. ‘I was burned out. I didn’t feel like I knew enough anymore about myself or the world to reflect it as an actor. I felt isolated.’

Even though she felt burnt out by the time In The Cut hit the big screen, she continued to take on small roles in TV shows and movies including Serious Moonlight, Fan Girl and Ithaca. Her most recent credit is from the sereis Picture Paris in 2018.

Ryan decided to leave Hollywood after her 2003 film In the Cut flopped

The 60-year-old, pictured above in 2021, felt ‘burnt out’ by acting and felt she was done with Hollywood after criticism of her films and plastic surgeries

She also came under fire for the extensive plastic surgery she has gotten done. Fans first started to notice a drastic change in her face in 2016. 

Plastic surgeon Mark Youssef weighed in on the surgery at the time to with HollywoodLife, claiming, ‘She may have done too much’ and that she ‘doesn’t look like the Meg Ryan that we all love.’ 

‘The most obvious thing that she’s had done is some sort of filler or fat transfer to her cheek,’ he explained.

He added: ‘It’s definitely too much because the apple of her cheek is too full and too large. When she smiles, all of that filler moves up and makes her eyes look smaller.’ 

‘The reason she looks masculine is because of the placement of the volume in her cheeks. The volume of the filler should have been placed more laterally to give her a softer look.’

Since Ryan herself admitted her Hollywood career has been over for a while, it’s no surprise that she wasn’t asked back for Top Gun: Maverick. 

Kelly McGillis claims she’s too ‘old and fat’ to return to Top Gun: Maverick following snub

Kelly McGillis, who starred in Top Gun when she was 29 years old, has claimed that she’s too ‘age-appropriate’ to be in the Top Gun sequel, pictured above in 2014 at 56 years old

Kelly McGillis, 64, who played Maverick’s love interest, Charlotte Blackwood, and Meg Ryan, 60, who played Goose’s wife, Carole Bradshaw, weren’t asked to return for the sequel, and it was due to a decision made by the creative team.

Not only are there new cast members this time around, but there’s a new director. 

Joseph Kosinski filled in place of the film’s original director, Tony Scott, who died from suicide in 2012. 

Kosinski was clear about his intentions for going in a new direction with Top Gun: Maverick and didn’t ask plenty of members of the new cast back for the sequel.

During an interview with Insider, he explained why McGillis and Ryan who played Anthony Edwards’ character Goose’s wife, weren’t asked back for Top Gun: Maverick.

‘Those weren’t stories that we were throwing around,’ Kosinski told the outlet of the actresses’ characters. ‘I didn’t want every storyline to always be looking backwards. It was important to introduce some new characters.’

Even though Kosinski just revealed the true reason they weren’t included, McGillis had admitted that she hadn’t back in 2019. 

When asked if she had received a call about the sequel, she responded, ‘Oh my God no they did not, and nor do I think they would ever.’

‘I’m old and I’m fat, and I look age-appropriate for what my age is. And that is not what the whole scene is about.’ 

‘To me, I’d much rather feel absolutely secure in my skin and who and what I am at my age as opposed to placing a value on all that other stuff,’ she concluded.

Top Gun: Maverick’s director, Joseph Kosinski, explained that he didn’t recast McGillis, as pictured in Top Gun with Tom Cruise, and Ryan because he ‘didn’t want every storyline looking backwards’ 

‘I’m old and I’m fat, and I look age-appropriate for what my age is,’ McGillis, pictured in 2010, said of why she feels she wasn’t asked to appear in Top Gun: Maverick

Even though McGillis took a step away from Hollywood after Top Gun, she continued to act in smaller roles and projects like in the 2015 film Blue, seen above 

She may not have been too heartbroken about not receiving the offer since she had made the decision to step back from Hollywood anyway after Top Gun came out in 1986.

 ‘I think just my priorities in life changed,’ she told ET. ‘It wasn’t like a major decision that I made to leave, it was just that other things became more important.’

 ‘It was very challenging for me to have any kind of sense of self or self-identity or real self-worth other than what I did for a living.’

 ‘And it just — it didn’t become a priority; what became the priority initially was raising my girls and being the best sober parent I could be,’ she explained.

Even though she stepped back from Hollywood, she didn’t step away from it entirely. Over the past four decades, she has starred in TV movies like Blue and played guest roles on TV shows like The L Word.

Most recently, she appeared in the 2020 limited series Dirty John. 

Michael Ironside does not get along with Top Gun producer Jerry Bruckheimer

Michael Ironside played Jester in Top Gun, pictured left, and knew when talks for Top Gun: Maverick started he wouldn’t be getting a call

Michael Ironside, 72, didn’t return because of his contentious relationship Jerry Bruckheimer, who served as a producer for Top Gun and returned for Top Gun: Maverick. 

In Top gun, Ironside played Rick ‘Jester’ Heatherly, a naval aviator and one of the instructors who taught Maverick and the other trainees. However, he won’t be back for round two.

‘I’m not going to be in this film,’ he told THR of the sequel back in 2018 when it was first announced. ‘The one person still in charge is Jerry Bruckheimer and Mr. Bruckheimer and I don’t really get along, or didn’t get along.’ 

‘He offered me a project 10 or 12 years ago and … I said no to it,’ he said of the origin of their beef. 

Ironside, pictured in 2015, suspected he wouldn’t be cast in Top Gun: Maverick because he had beef with the one of the producers

Ironside starred in Desperate Housewives in 2005 and has gone on to have a successful career despite his tense relationship with Top Gun producers Jerry Bruckheimer

He added: ‘The next time I saw him at a hockey game… I went up and said, “Hey Jerry,” and he just turned around and I figured, “Well that relationship is over with.”‘

Even though he may have burned his bridges with Bruckheimer, Ironside still went on to have a successful career. 

He starred in some of his biggest gigs in the 90s including  Starship Troopers and Total Recall. 

He’s still active in the industry and has appeared in movies and well-known shows like Desperate Housewives. He also has many projects in the works and his most recent released project is The Dropout on Hulu. 

Val Kilmer had to ‘beg’ to come back after throat cancer

Val Kilmer played Iceman, pictured left, and almost didn’t make the cut for the sequel but managed to land a role in 2022 Top Gun Maverick, pictured right

Val Kilmer, 62, played the film’s main villain, Iceman, Maverick’s cocky competition who wanted to get top place so badly that he cut off Maverick while flying, causing his R.I.O. Goose to die.

Kilmer enjoyed making the film back in 1986 and enjoyed it just as much time this time around.

‘It was lovely. The whole experience, you know, 36 years to make this film. There were so many moments in making it that were very special, incredibly unique,’ he told Metro on Friday. 

He also enjoyed working with Cruise, even if their characters didn’t get along, adding, ‘He’s an actor that I greatly admire, so it was wonderful.’ 

After Top gun, he continued acting consistently throughout the 90s and early 2000s, starring in films like Tombstone and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. His most memorable was Jim Morrison in The Doors.

Kilmer, pictured as Iceman in the 1986 film, wasn’t initially invited back for the sequel and had to ‘beg’ producers for the role

While he spoke highly of his time working on Top Gun, he also enjoyed working on other projects like the 1993 film Tombstone and 2005 film Kiss Kiss Bang Bang 

Kilmer shared that he had been living with throat cancer for two years in 2017 and continues to act to this day even though he hasn’t gone in remission, as pictured in 2019

He was forced to put his career on pause when he was diagnosed with throat cancer. He revealed his diagnosis two years after the fact on a Reddit AMA in 2017.  

In his 2020 memoir, I’m Your Huckleberry, he wrote that he thought he was going to die and even confessed that he ‘begged’ to be in the Top Gun sequel.

‘Tom was Maverick, but Maverick’s nemesis was Iceman. The two went together like salt and pepper,’ he wrote.

‘It didn’t matter that the producers didn’t contact me. As The Temptations sang in the heyday of Motown soul, “Ain’t too proud to beg,”‘ he added.

Even though he hasn’t gone into remission, he is still making the effort to live his life to the fullest and has gone back to acting. 

Tom Skerritt filmed but may not have made the cut

Tom Skerritt, who is now 88 years old as pictured right, played Viper, pictured left, and filmed for Top Gun: Maverick but ‘doesn’t think he’ll be in the film at all’

Tom Skerritt, 88, played Mike ‘Viper’ Metcalf, who is not only one of Maverick’s instructor but a good friend of his father.

Admittedly, Skerritt had a feeling he wouldn’t be asked to return for the sequel before casting even went under way.

During an interview with Deluxe Edition: A Classic Pop Culture Podcast, he admitted that he thought ‘the only way I’d be in the film I’m sure would be just simply 30 years later, that they would be coming to my character’s funeral.’

Ironically, he was asked to film for a funeral but it wasn’t his character’s. 

‘So as it happens, they asked me down to be at the funeral of Iceman,’ he continued.

Skerritt went on to have a career after Top Gun and one his biggest projects was the 1997 film Contact, pictured right, and 2006’s Brothers & sisters, pictured left

Skerritt isn’t acting as much these days  but has booked small roles on TV shows like Going Home in 2022

However, just because he filmed for Top Gun: Maverick, it doesn’t mean he made it into the film. 

‘So I went down there for a day and I was in that scene [but] I don’t think that I’ll be in the film at all. It’s just me in the crowd of people,’ he explained.

Even though fans may not be able to see him in Top Gun: Maverick, they can re-watch his 1997 film Contact and his role on MASH which he filmed before his Top Gun days.

His acting career has slowed down a bit but he is still booking cameo roles on television shows like Going Home in 2022. 

None of the Top Gun junior grade lieutenants were asked back 

None of the Top Gun trainees were asked to come back as the director expresses a desire to avoid rehashing old storylines

John Stockwell booked a handful of roles in the 90s since playing Cougar in Top Gun, pictured left, but has seemingly geared his focus toward directing, as pictured above in 2017

Tim Robbins, 63, pictured right, continued his career in acting after his role in Top Gun, pictured left, landing a number of projects over the years like Mystic River, The Player and High Fidelity

Rick Rossovich played Slider in Top Gun, pictured left, and teased a possible cameo in Top Gun: Maverick

It seems that Skerritt was one of the lucky ones as none of the Top Gun trainees were asked to return. This includes Cougar (John Stockwell) Merlin (Tim Robbins), Hollywood (Whip Hubley), Slider (Rick Rossovich), who Wolfman (Barry Tubb), Sundown (Clarence Gilyard Jr.), and Chipper (Adrian Pasdar.) All of them weren’t asked to come back for Top Gun: Maverick.

As the director had previously mentioned, he didn’t want to rehash old storylines and move forward but aside from that, it’s unknown why they weren’t asked back if not for a featured moment.

Rossovich did tease a possible cameo back in 2021, stating,  ‘Who knows, [Slider] might show up in the sequel. Maybe, I don’t know. Maybe it’s a secret. We’ll see. If not, get the VHS.’

However, none of them are listed in the film’s credits on IMDB so it doesn’t seem likely that they were asked to return for the sequel.

Even though they may not have gotten the chance to reprise their roles, they all have gone on to find success in some regard.

Chipper, pictured left, was Adrian Pasdar’s first role but went on to join the Marvel franchise and appear on hit shows like The Rookie, pictured right

Clarence Gilyard, 66, was Sundown in Top Gun, pictured left, gave up acting be a theater professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, pictured right

Barry Tubbs continued acting as pictured right, but his biggest role to this day is Top Gun, pictured left

Whip Hubley has continued to act on the screen and the stage, pictured right, but his biggest gig continues to be Top Gun

Stockwell, 61, booked a handful of roles in the 90s but has seemingly geared his focus toward directing, leading projects like Blue Crush and Into the Blue. 

Robbins, 63, also continued his career in acting, landing a number of projects over the years like Mystic River, The Player and High Fidelity. 

The junior lieutenant who has arguably had the most success after Top Gun was Pasdar, 57. Chipper, his role in Top Gun, was his first major feature and it was just the start of his acting career. He still consistently books to this day and some of his big credits include Heroes, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, The Rookie and Near Dark.  Top Gun was his first role.

Other cast members continued to act, but never landed any more notable roles than their part in Top Gun including Hubley, 65; Rossovich, 64 and Tubb, 59. 

Meanwhile, Gilyard, 66, went to star in Die Hard and then gave up acting be a theater professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

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