Was Jennifer Connelly In The Original Top Gun?

was jennifer connelly in the original top gun

Jennifer Connelly plays the love interest of Tom Cruise’s character in Top Gun: Maverick. The actress is known for playing major roles in a long list of movies, including Hulk, The Rocketeer, Dark City, Requiem for a Dream, and A Beautiful Mind. Her career in films dates back to 1984, two years before the release of the original Top Gun classic. In the long-awaited sequel to the iconic Top Gun movie, Connelly plays Penny Benjamin, a bartender who captures the romantic interest of Tom Cruise’s Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. Connelly joins a star-studded cast that includes, in addition to Cruise himself, Ed Harris, Val Kilmer, Miles Teller, Jon Hamm, and more.


As for what Maverick did in his personal life, the character found a new love interest in Jennifer Connelly’s Penny Benjamin. Like most Top Gun: Maverick cast members, Connelly has no prior ties to Top Gun. The only other returning actor in the film aside from Cruise is the aforementioned Val Kilmer, who came back to play Iceman. Connelly herself is completely new to the Top Gun franchise, but her character, on the other hand, actually does have a tangible connection to the original film. Penny was established as a person who was romantically involved with Maverick before the movie. She was mentioned in conversations with Goose, Stinger, and Carole.

Related: Tom Cruise’s Reason For Doing His Own Stunts Makes Top Gun 2 Better

Who Is Jennifer Connelly In Top Gun: Maverick?

Jennifer Connelly as Penny Benjamin in Top Gun Maverick

It was explained in Top Gun that Penny Benjamin is an admiral’s daughter. When bringing up Maverick’s troublesome history, Stinger referenced their fling as a reason for why he was disciplined in the past. But while Maverick’s relationship with Penny, which was obviously frowned upon by his superiors, may imply that viewers should already be familiar with her, that’s actually not the case at all. Though Maverick is certainly familiar with Penny ahead of Top Gun: Maverick’s story, she had no real role to play in the first movie, and the references to her were sparse.

Jennifer Connelly’s inclusion in Top Gun: Maverick can be attributed to the absence of Kelly McGillis’ Charlie Blackwood. Charlie’s romance with Maverick was, of course, a major part of the original movie but has since become a thing of the past. Since McGillis didn’t play Charlie again, Top Gun: Maverick has moved on by bringing one of Top Gun’s unseen characters into the picture as Maverick’s love interest.

Why Do People Think Jennifer Connelly Was In The Original Top Gun?

Tom Cruise and Jennifer Connelly in Top Gun

It must be a case of misremembering, as many believe that Jennifer Connelly was in Top Gun. However, the movie came out when her career was in its infant stages. It’s been over 30 years since the original Top Gun came out, and Jennifer Connelly was working on the cult classic David Bowie film Labyrinth at the time. The confusion surrounding her involvement in Top Gun could be due to numerous factors.

The primary factor is the passing of time, since Top Gun came out so long ago and Connelly was active during this time, it’s possible that people thought she was making a return of sorts for Top Gun: Maverick. Another thing would be her overall aesthetic. Jennifer Connelly was partly responsible for creating a very specific 80s look for actresses during that time. She had a certain girl-next-door appeal that Top Gun audiences would’ve fallen for.

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Connelly was only 16 when Top Gun came out, meaning she was much too young to appear in the movie. However, it’s truly a testament to the Top Gun: Maverick casting, as she feels exactly like an actress that would’ve appeared in Top Gun. The near-Mandela Effect some fans seem to be experiencing about Connelly being a returnee rather than a new cast member, however, is mainly in corners of the Top Gun fandom who saw the original 1986 movie when it released in theaters, back when they were around the same age as Jennifer Connelly herself when she appeared in Labyrinth.

How Jennifer Connelly Crafted Her Top Gun 2 Character

Jennifer Connelly in Top Gun 2 Maverick

Despite Jennifer Connolly’s Top Gun role only existing in the sequel, the actor used that brief mention of Penny in the original to help craft her character. Connolly claimed that knowing Maverick and Penny shared a past led her to explore what kept drawing these two together. Penny proves Top Gun: Maverick worked without Charlie and the original romance as she and Maverick felt like an ideal match. However, Connolly also insisted that, “it was really important that you feel Penny is someone who is in charge of her own life, who sets her own boundaries, who lives life on her own terms, who has agency.” Given the reaction to the character, it’s fair to say Connolly succeeded.

NEXT: How Much Of Top Gun 2 Is Real & How Much Is CGI

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