36 years after its illustrious predecessor, Top Gun: Maverick reignites the Top Gun saga with a raft of returning Top Gun cast members and new Top Gun 2 characters. While the return of star Tom Cruise for one of his most recognizable historic roles certainly stole the headlines, the cast of Maverick boasts an incredible array of talent in every scene. Arguably, one of the movie’s greatest strengths stems from the fact that Cruise’s legacy provides a perfect counterweight to many unfamiliar yet instantly iconic faces. Since its release, the cast of Top Gun 2 has gained acclaim beyond Tom Cruise, with Jennifer Connelly, Miles Teller, and Glen Powell among others rightly receiving praise for their performances in the Top Gun sequel.
Top Gun: Maverick follows Pete “Maverick” Mitchell as he trains a new batch of Top Gun recruits for a dangerous mission. Having spent the previous three decades deliberately avoiding promotion to continue flying, Maverick is viewed with skepticism by his superiors and trainees alike. He is eventually able to win over his new charges, including Rooster, the son of his old wingman Goose. While the flight sequences are undeniably impressive, much critical praise has focused on the cast, elevating Top Gun: Maverick beyond being a simply run-of-the-mill action reboot. Here’s the full guide to every Top Gun: Maverick character, including both the Top Gun 2 returning cast and new recruits.
Tom Cruise as Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell
As the most recognizable presence in the franchise, Tom Cruise’s Maverick is the movie’s most essential of the Top Gun 2 returning cast. Unsurprisingly, Tom Cruise performs Top Gun 2’s stunts himself. Unlike his role in the original, however, the older Pete “Maverick” Mitchell has been tempered somewhat by his experiences in the Navy, yet retains the same free-spirited air that so endeared him to audiences in 1986. Away from the world of Top Gun, Tom Cruise is internationally recognized as one of the world’s most bankable movie stars. His most famous projects include the likes of Mission: Impossible, A Few Good Men and Minority Report.
Val Kilmer as Admiral Tom “Iceman” Kazansky
Among the other Top Gun 2 returning cast members, this is one of the most emotional. Reprising his role as Maverick’s main rival from the original movie, Val Kilmer’s Iceman wasn’t always destined to appear in the Top Gun sequel. After an extensive Facebook campaign and the support of Cruise, Kilmer was finally confirmed in 2018. Unlike Maverick, Iceman has successfully risen through the ranks, becoming a four-star admiral in the intervening decades. Apart from his Top Gun character, Kilmer is best known for his roles in Michael Mann’s Heat, as well Batman Forever and Willow.
Miles Teller as Lieutenant Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw
Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw is the son of Maverick’s deceased former wingman, original Top Gun character Goose. Bradley appeared briefly in the original, singing “Great Balls of Fire” alongside Maverick and Goose. While Rooster initially resents Maverick, blaming him for being supposedly held back in his career, the two eventually become close, with Rooster even saving Maverick during the movie’s climactic raid. Fans might have expected Roosters mother Carole, played by Meg Ryan in the original, to be among the Top Gun 2 returning cast but she is revealed to have died between the two movies. Teller has appeared in several notable Hollywood projects, including films such as The Offer and Whiplash.
Jennifer Connelly as Penelope “Penny” Benjamin
Kelly McGillis didn’t return as Charlie, Maverick’s Top Gun girlfriend. Replacing Kelly McGillis’ Charlie Blackwood is Jennifer Connelly as Penny Benjamin — a bar owner, the daughter of a former admiral, and Maverick’s new love interest. As the drama unfolds, Penny provides crucial advice for Maverick as he attempts to navigate his relationships with the cast of Maverick, especially Rooster. Though not technically one of the Top Gun 2 returning cast, Penny was mentioned in 1986’s Top Gun. Jennifer Connelly’s career has spanned nearly four decades, with projects such as Labyrinth, Requiem for a Dream, and A Beautiful Mind.
Jon Hamm as Vice Admiral Beau “Cyclone” Simpson
One of Top Gun antagonist characters, Jon Hamm’s Vice Admiral “Cyclone” Simpson is extremely skeptical of Maverick’s dangerous and seemingly foolhardy approach – voicing his concerns before the final mission. However, he is eventually won over, appointing him to lead the team. Jon Hamm is a movie and TV veteran, still perhaps best known for the role of advertising guru Don Draper in the much-vaunted series Mad Men.
Glen Powell as Lieutenant Jake “Hangman” Seresin
Hangman is another daredevil pilot who regularly rubs up against Miles Teller’s Rooster. Known for his arrogance, he too is quick to dismiss Maverick’s methods and is initially cast in an unfavorable light. However, by the end of the movie, Hangman is eventually redeemed as he saves Maverick and Rooster during their escape from hostile territory. In many ways, Hangman fulfills a similar role to Val Kilmer’s original Iceman.
Lewis Pullman as Lieutenant Robert “Bob” Floyd
Another key mission candidate, Bob serves as Weapon Systems Officer (WSO) to Natasha “Phoenix” Trace. As part of the final mission, he and Phoenix are paired with Maverick. The 28-year-old actor has been involved in a number of interesting projects, including Bad Times at the El Royale and the TV adaptation of Catch-22, although his role in Top Gun: Maverick is probably his most significant yet.
Ed Harris as Rear Admiral Chester “Hammer” Cain
Though not one of Top Gun 2‘s returning cast members, Rear Admiral Cain seems to have a history with Maverick. Early in the movie, Cain is determined to ground the controversial captain after his actions result in the destruction of a highly-valued “Darkstar” prototype. However, he is eventually persuaded by Iceman to transfer him to a new assignment. Ed Harris is one of the most experienced actors working in Hollywood, appearing in movies such as The Rock, A History of Violence, and Westworld.
Monica Barbaro as Lieutenant Natasha “Phoenix” Trace
As part of Captain Maverick’s team for Top Gun 2‘s final mission alongside “Bob” Floyd, Phoenix is one of the most important players in Top Gun: Maverick. Like her fellow mission candidates, she is initially disdainful of Maverick’s credentials before observing him in action. Barbaro’s filmography is still fairly limited, with Top Gun: Maverick marking only her second major appearance, although there’ll likely be more screen time for this up-and-comer after her impressive Top Gun 2 performance.
Charles Parnell as Rear Admiral Solomon “Warlock” Bates
One of the few authority figures who seem friendly towards Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, Rear Admiral Warlock is a key figure in organizing the mission against the uranium enrichment facility — alongside Jon Hamm’s Cyclone. Warlock is actually the commander of Naval Education and Training Command, making him play a key role in Top Gun: Maverick‘s story. Actor Charles Parnell will be seen alongside Cruise once again for 2023’s Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One.
Jay Ellis as Lieutenant Reuben “Payback” Fitch
Another Naval Aviator and Top Gun graduate, Payback works closely alongside his WSO Mickey “Fanboy” Garcia. The duo team up with Rooster for the main mission, highlighting his skill with an aircraft. Beyond Top Gun: Maverick, actor Jay Ellis is probably best known for his role in the horror movie Escape Room and the series Insecure.
Danny Ramirez as Lieutenant Mickey “Fanboy” Garcia
The final member of Rooster’s mission sub-team, Fanboy serves as the WSO to Payback. In addition to his role in the Tom Cruise movie, actor Danny Ramirez is probably most recognizable for his role as the MCU’s new Falcon, who will appear in Captain America 4. However, Ramirez has also made appearances in shows such as Orange Is The New Black and On My Block.
Top Gun: Maverick’s Supporting Cast & Characters
Manny Jacinto as Fritz – Jacinto’s career has included a diverse array of onscreen roles, including a credit alongside fellow Top Gun: Maverick actor Lewis Pullman in Bad Times at the El Royale. He is perhaps best known as Jason Mendoza on the NBC sitcom The Good Place.
Jack Schumacher as Lieutenant Neil “Omaha” Vikander – While Top Gun: Maverick is probably his most high-profile appearance to date, it is by no means Jack Schumacher’s first foray into acting territory. The performer has previously appeared in both S.W.A.T and Chicago P.D, highlighting his genre credentials.
Greg Tarzan Davis as Lieutenant Javy “Coyote” Machado – Much like co-stars Cruise and Parnell, Davis will also make an appearance in 2023’s Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One. He has also taken a recurring role on Grey’s Anatomy season 18.
Bashir Salahuddin as Chief Warrant Officer 4 Bernie “Hondo” Coleman – Although his role in Top Gun: Maverick is somewhat limited, Salahuddin has a range of high-profile acting credits to his name. The performer has appeared in everything from American Dad to GLOW, while also working as an actor and musician.
Jake Picking as Lieutenant Brigham “Harvard” Lennox – Pickering’s other major credits include Robert de Niro’s much-maligned 2016 comedy Dirty Grandpa and action-thriller Sicario: Day of the Soldado. He also played the lead role of Rock Hudson in the Ryan Murphy series Hollywood.
Raymond Lee as Lieutenant Logan “Yale” Lee – In addition to being one of Top Gun: Maverick‘s supporting players, Raymond Lee has had roles in several well-known projects. His credits include The Lost City and How I Met Your Mother.
Lyliana Wray as Amelia Benjamin, Penny Benjamin’s daughter – A former child actress who found fame with a breakout role in 2016’s Maximum Ride, Lyliana Wray has gone on to bolster her career with several prominent roles. Her most noteworthy is probably on the Nickelodeon revival of Are You Afraid Of The Dark?
Jean Louisa Kelly as Sarah Kazansky, Iceman’s wife – Kelly’s career has incorporated a number of projects, on both the small and big screen. Her credits include both the original CSI and its spin-off CSI: Miami, as well as the hit 2021 horror movie Malignant.
Chelsea Harris as Flag Aide Angela Burke – Although she has several movie credits to her name, Harris is probably best known for her TV work. In recent years, her credits include the likes of Snowpiercer and Star Trek: Picard.
Which Top Gun Characters Didn’t Return For Maverick
Several Top Gun characters didn’t make it into the cast of Maverick for different reasons. The most notable missing original character is Kelly McGillis’ Charlie Blackwell — Maverick’s love interest in Top Gun. Also missing in the sequel are Top Gun instructors Mike “Viper” Metcalf (Tom Skerritt) and Rick “Jester” Heatherly (Michael Ironside), Maverick’s original wingman Bill “Cougar” Cortell (John Stockwell), Cougar’s RIO Sam “Merlin” Wells (Tim Robbins), and Rooster’s mom Carole Bradshaw (Meg Ryan).
Top Gun: Maverick also doesn’t feature TOPGUN program graduates Rick “Hollywood” Neven (Whip Hubley), Ron “Slider” Kerner (Rick Rossovich), Leonard “Wolfman” Wolfe (Barry Tubb), Marcus “Sundown” Williams (Clarence Gilyard Jr.), and Charles “Chipper” Piper (Adrian Pasdar). Top Gun 3, however, could still feature some of these original franchise characters. As for why they didn’t appear in Top Gun: Maverick, no reason is given. This adds to the realism though — it’s been decades since the original Top Gun, and Maverick remaining in contact with all these individuals after so long would be highly unlikely.
Top Gun Cast Members Who Could Return For Top Gun 3
It’s not yet known if Top Gun 3 will actually happen, but if it does, there are some opportunities for Top Gun returning cast members to appear. Given how audiences have seemed to respond to Maverick’s romance with Penny in the sequel, reigniting his romance with Charlie in Top Gun 3 likely wouldn’t be popular. However, as a high-ranking military officer, she could definitely fit into the story. Tim Robbins’ Merlin could also return as a retired family man, giving Maverick something to think about for his future. Perhaps Adrian Pasdar’s Chipper could return as a rival for Maverick as well.
A Top Gun 3 would also provide an opportunity to expand on some of Top Gun 2‘s returning characters. The friendship between Maverick and Hondo in Top Gun: Maverick is worth exploring in more detail while the young cast of new recruits could be explored in greater detail. This is especially true of Manny Jacinto’s Fritz, who is only seen in the background despite Jacinto being one of the more widely-known names among the new Top Gun cast members thanks to his role on The Good Place. In addition to bringing back some missing original cast members, Top Gun 3 could rectify his suspicious underuse in Top Gn: Maverick.