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Kelly McGillis Had A Brutally Honest Take On Her Top Gun: Maverick Exclusion

The much-anticipated "Top Gun: Maverick" will soon be soaring into theaters and based on early reviews, it's already shaping up to be one of the summer's biggest hits. At the time of writing, the film is sitting at a whopping 97% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 90 reviews, with critics saying the film "pulls off a feat even trickier than a 4G inverted dive, delivering a long-belated sequel that surpasses its predecessor in wildly entertaining style." Only time will tell how the general public reacts, but it looks like it's got promise.

Set 30 years after the original, "Top Gun: Maverick" sees the return of plenty of familiar faces as well as a few new ones. Of course, Tom Cruise is set to return as Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, a top Navy test pilot and flight school instructor. Also reprising his "Top Gun" role is Val Kilmer as "Iceman," now the commander of the U.S. Pacific fleet, who sends Maverick on a specialized mission training a group of Top Gun graduates. Some new, yet recognizable faces in the film include Jon Hamm, Miles Teller, and Glen Powell. But one major character fans will surely miss is Maverick's original love interest, Charlie (Kelly McGillis). Although she played a large role in the first "Top Gun," Charlie is noticeably missing from the sequel.

When asked about the omission, McGillis didn't pull any punches.

Kelly McGillis said she's 'age-appropriate' now

In a surprising move, Kelly McGillis, who starred as the blonde bombshell Charlie in the original "Top Gun" film, was not asked to return for the sequel. Instead, Jennifer Connelly is set to star alongside Tom Cruise as Maverick's new love interest. McGillis said that while she didn't know the 51-year-old Connelly, she was glad that Connelly got the opportunity. 

Overall, it doesn't seem McGillis holds any hard feelings for the actor stepping in. However, she did not hold back when ET asked her if she was contacted to appear in the new film. "Oh my God no they did not, and nor do I think they would ever," she said. "I'm old, and I'm fat, and I look age-appropriate for what my age is. And that is not what that whole scene is about." 

She was also asked if she was attending any of the film's promotional events, to which she replied, "You know what, I don't know how to answer that because one, it hasn't happened. Two, if and when it did happen, I would have to assess where I am, what I'm doing, what's going on." She went on to express support for Connelly in her new role, though it's clear the actress holds Hollywood beauty standards in low regard.

Director Joseph Kosinski explained why McGillis and Meg Ryan weren't brought back

In an interview with Variety a couple weeks before "Top Gun: Maverick's" premiere, director Joseph Kosinski gave his side of the story as to why McGillis and Meg Ryan weren't brought back. In "Top Gun," Ryan played Carole, wife of Maverick's RIO Goose (Anthony Edwards). While it might make sense why Charlie wouldn't be brought back, since Maverick has a new love interest, Carole's absence is more questionable, since so much of "Top Gun: Maverick" is about Maverick training Goose's son, Rooster (Teller).

"Those weren't stories that we were throwing around," Kosinski explained, referring to McGillis' and Ryan's characters. "I didn't want every storyline to always be looking backwards. It was important to introduce some new characters."

Instead of bringing back Charlie, "Top Gun: Maverick" will focus on Maverick's relationship with his new love interest, as well as his relationships with Rooster and Iceman (Val Kilmer).

McGillis has mostly left Hollywood behind anyway

Since "Top Gun" premiered in 1986, Kelly McGillis continued appearing in occasional film and TV projects throughout the 1990's and 2000's. She appeared as Colonel Gillian Davis in Season 5 of "The L Word" in 2008, and she had a guest-starring role on the 2020 series "Dirty John" (via IMDb). However, McGillis' days as a top-billed star are long behind her, and that's by design.

In the same interview with ET, McGillis spoke about her shift in priorities since the "Top Gun" days. When she initially decided to stop pursuing acting projects, she did so in order to spend time with her two daughters, and to focus on her sobriety. "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," McGillis explained, describing her life as an actress.

McGillis didn't have one moment of realization that led to a change. She described it as more of a gradual shift in priorities. While she continued to love acting, especially for theater, her relationships with her loved ones became more important.

As of 2013, McGillis was living in Hendersonville, North Carolina, where she was teaching at a small acting studio. "I live a quiet, little life. I live in a log cabin on top of the hill in North Carolina and it is lovely," she said at the time (via Yahoo).