Kelly McGillis’s performance as Charlie in the original Top Gun was a major factor in the film’s success. An intelligent and strong woman in a time of token girlfriends, she surprised everyone by treating Tom Cruise’s Maverick like an equal.
In the film, she was the one who set the tone for their relationship, and by the end, he came to her rather than hanging out with the guys and playing shirtless volleyball. Because of possible age discrimination, McGillis did not appear in Top Gun: Maverick, and the sequel has not addressed this issue.
It also prevented Maverick from having the same success as its forerunner. Penny Benjamin, played by Jennifer Connelly in place of McGillis, is the only other realistic choice for the role. There is evidence that this person has already made an appearance in Maverick’s life before the events of the critically acclaimed sequel proper begin.
Who is Penny in Top Gun Maverick?
Top Gun: Maverick introduces Penny Benjamin, the bar’s owner and bartender, who is a favourite among Top Gun and other military personnel. She and Maverick have obviously known each other for quite some time. She also raises her teenage daughter Amelia on her own (Lyliana Wray).
Maverick starts to trust Penny and eventually fall in love with her. She is able to be forthright about Maverick’s relationship with Rooster, the son of Goose (Anthony Edwards), Maverick’s former co-pilot, and also instruct the ace pilot in the finer points of high-octane water sports. The pieces are falling into place for a reunion of the two of them.
Jennifer Connelly portrays Benjamin in the film. Connelly, who has been working in Hollywood since she was a teenager, won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in A Beautiful Mind. Her first film credit was for the role of young Deborah in Sergio Leone’s crime classic Once Upon a Time in America.
She went on to become a household name after playing in such films as the dark fantasy Labyrinth, the comedy The Rocketeer, the tragic drama Requiem for a Dream by Daren Aronovsky, and the action thriller Blood Diamond alongside Leonardo DiCaprio.
Where is Top Gun’s Charlie, Played by Kelly McGillis?
Fans of the original Top Gun, in which Kelly McGillis played Maverick’s girlfriend Charlie, could be confused by the introduction of Penny as his new love interest.
Charlie, a civilian liaison with the TOP GUN Fighter School, had a romantic relationship with Maverick, as Top Gun aficionados will recall. Maverick and Charlie had a disagreement after Goose’s death and before Maverick leaves on his mission. However, after saving the day (obviously), Maverick decides to become a TOP GUN instructor.
Charlie returns, and the two of them seem to pick up where they left off romantically.
At the end of the day, McGillis’s character was completely forgotten about and she was not rehired for the sequel. Given what we know about Maverick, it’s hardly shocking that his second attempt at romance with Charlie also ended in failure.
For McGillis in particular, after Top Gun, she had a very productive 1980s and 1990s, appearing in films like Made in Heaven and The Accused and The Babe, until things began to slow down in the 2000s.
She has continued to act on occasion, with recent parts in the TV movies An Uncommon Grace and Maternal Secrets, as well as a cameo role on the show Dirty John. McGillis has stated that she did not appear in Top Gun: Maverick because of ageism, and the new film has not addressed this issue.
Is Penny Benjamin in the First “Top Gun” Movie?
Penny (Jennifer Connelly) is a character in the “Top Gun” films, however she is not present in the first film. However, she is mentioned briefly and is a part of the story.
In one scene, Maverick’s best friend Goose mutters under his breath that Maverick has “a history of high-speed passes over five air-control towers and one admiral’s daughter.” Penny is implied to be the “admiral’s daughter” in this context.
Later, when Goose’s wife Carole is making light of Maverick’s past relationships, she confirms this by saying, “Goose told me all about the time you went ballistic with Penny Benjamin.” Though she isn’t physically present in the original “Top Gun,” Penny is a pivotal figure in the sequel.
Penny, now portrayed by Connelly, is the proprietor of a bar frequented by the TOPGUN cast and crew during their off hours. She’s not too happy to see Maverick again, and the banter between them strongly suggests that their relationship has been on and off in the years between the films.
“It started the first time when they were quite young. And you get the sense that they sort of come together, they have this sort of fiery romance, and then it falls apart,” Connelly described in an interview with FilmIsNow. “But then they keep coming back to each other.”