Why The Cast Of Top Gun: Maverick Looks So Familiar

1986's "Top Gun" stunned audiences with its visceral depiction of shirtless hunks playing beach volleyball — oh, and aerial combat sequences featuring fighter jets locked in life-or-death battles. All joking aside, "Top Gun" proved to be a pop culture phenomenon, grossing over $357 million worldwide over the course of the last few decades. Despite the film's age, it has remained a cinematic touchstone. A sequel was pretty much inevitable, though it took many years to arrive. But finally, 2022's "Top Gun: Maverick" is upon us.

Joseph Kosinski is in the director's chair this time around, reuniting with Tom Cruise many years after their collaboration on 2013's "Oblivion." Cruise and Val Kilmer reprise their roles from the original film, while a cast of newcomers represents the next generation of pilots. Pop culture connoisseurs might recognize some of these actors, many of whom likewise represent a fresh slate of Hollywood stars. Who are these famous and rapidly-becoming-famous faces, and why do they look so familiar? We're here to answer that question by taking a closer look at the cast of "Top Gun: Maverick" and the productions you've already seen them in.

Miles Teller has superhero drama in his past

Miles Teller plays Lieutenant Bradley "Rooster" Bradshaw, a young pilot in the TOPGUN training program. As his name implies, Rooster is the son of Goose, the ill-fated character played by Anthony Edwards in the original film. Teller can currently be seen on "The Offer," a Paramount+ original series that chronicles the making of "The Godfather," universally regarded as one of the greatest films of all time. He also stars in Joseph Kosinski's "Spiderhead," a 2022 sci-fi thriller that centers around pharmaceuticals capable of inducing intense emotions.

Teller's breakthrough role came in 2014, when he starred as an ambitious young jazz drummer in "Whiplash." He earned strong acclaim for his performance, though it was J.K. Simmons who took home the lion's share of awards for his menacing portrayal of a perfectionist music teacher. Teller's career was nearly derailed when he starred in 2015's infamous panned "Fantastic Four," but he's since bounced back with the 2016 boxing drama "Bleed for This," as well as Nicolas Winding Refn's Amazon Prime Video series "Too Old to Die Young." "Top Gun: Maverick" is yet another feather in his already well-decorated cap.

Glen Powell played a high-flying astronaut

One of the many trainees present in "Top Gun: Maverick" is Lieutenant Jake "Hangman" Seresin, played by Glen Powell. Powell started acting in his teens, scoring his first feature film role in Robert Rodriguez's "Spy Kids 3: Game Over" in 2003. He eventually transitioned to more mature roles in movies like 2014's "The Expendables 3" and the little-seen 2013 Western "Red Wing." He also became a recurring favorite of Richard Linklater, starring in both 2016's "Everybody Wants Some!!" and 2022's "Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood."

One of Powell's most famous roles came in 2016's "Hidden Figures," in which he plays John Glenn, famous astronaut and bona fide American hero. This stirring film explores the historically overlooked lives and work of the Black women mathematicians who worked at NASA during the peak of the Space Race. Powell portrays Glenn as a virtuous and kind-hearted hero eager to explore the vast expanse of outer space. It's an incredibly earnest performance, which Powell absolutely nails: He is as charming as he is righteous.

Monica Barbaro fought for justice in Chicago

Monica Barbaro plays Lieutenant Natasha "Phoenix" Trace, yet another trainee in the TOPGUN program tasked with becoming the best of the best. "Top Gun: Maverick" looks poised to be Barbaro's big break, but in fact, she's been floating around Hollywood for years, making herself known through her stand-out performances in film, television, and video games.

One of Barbaro's most recognizable roles is Anna Valdez, a sharp assistant state's attorney on Dick Wolf's "Chicago P.D." series. Anna went on to become a main character on the short-lived "Chicago Justice." Following that series' untimely cancellation after just one season, Barbaro reprised the role several times on "Chicago P.D."

While the "One Chicago" franchise is a big, mainstream production, fans might also know Barbaro from a handful of other roles. She made particularly impressive waves as Yael on "UnREAL," a brutal and quick-witted Lifetime series about what it takes to make reality TV. She also starred as detective Cora Vasquez alongside Josh Groban and Tony Danza on the short-lived Netflix series "The Good Cop." Aside from "Top Gun: Maverick," Barbaro fans will soon be able to enjoy her work in the animated "Army of the Dead: Lost Vegas" series, and the highly anticipated Square Enix video game "Forspoken."

Jay Ellis got trapped in an Escape Room

Jay Ellis cuts a dashing figure as Lieutenant Reuben "Payback" Fitch in "Top Gun: Maverick." Yet Ellis is best known for playing the considerably less slick Lawrence, protagonist Issa's on-again-off-again boyfriend on HBO's "Insecure." He also starred as Jason Walker in the 2019 thriller "Escape Room," which grossed an impressive $155 million at the international box office. Furthermore, Ellis appeared as Bryce "Blue" Westbrook on 48 episodes of "The Game," a long-running "Girlfriends" spin-off which aired on both The CW and BET.

In short, Ellis' star has been rising steadily over the last two decades. Now he's pivoting to film in the hopes of becoming a bona fide movie star — and his efforts appear to be paying off. In addition to "Top Gun: Maverick," Ellis is slated to appear in Dave Franco's latest directorial effort, 2022's "Somebody I Used to Know," as well as the upcoming romantic comedy "Lemonade." Hopefully, his performance in "Top Gun: Maverick" will catapult him into further realms of superstardom, just as the original "Top Gun" did for Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer.

Danny Ramirez helped the Falcon stop the Flag Smashers

Up-and-coming star Danny Ramirez plays Lieutenant Mickey "Fanboy" Garcia, who shares a cockpit with Jay Ellis' "Payback" Fitch. Ramirez made his onscreen debut in an episode of Showtime's "The Affair," and quickly boosted his profile with roles in movies like the 2018 black comedy thriller "Assassination Nation" and several episodes of the short-lived X-Men TV show "The Gifted." He followed these roles up nicely by playing Mario Martinez on Netflix's teen dramedy "On My Block."

Ramirez really came to prominence, however, through his performance as Joaquin Torres on "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier." A Marvel Cinematic Universe miniseries streaming on Disney+, this pulse-pounding action-adventure sees Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan reprise the roles of Sam Wilson (aka Falcon and Captain America) and Bucky Barnes (aka Winter Soldier) from the "Captain America" movies. Thanks to the ongoing nature of Marvel's flicks, Ramirez will likely play a greater role in that cinematic universe as the years go on. Meanwhile, he found time to star in 2022's "No Exit," a white-knuckle thriller series set in a snowbound rest stop.

Jon Hamm has been an angel and an ad man

Jon Hamm plays Vice Admiral Beau "Cyclone" Simpson in "Top Gun: Maverick." As his fans already know, he's well cast — if nothing else, Hamm certainly has the jawline of a vice admiral. It's no wonder he was a popular fan choice to play Superman, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter, before Henry Cavill was cast in the role for 2013's "Man of Steel." 

Hamm is best known for starring as Don Draper in AMC's "Mad Men." The show ran for seven successful seasons and did much to establish the network's prestigious reputation, in no small part because of Hamm's Emmy-winning performance as the haunted, charismatic ad man. Other notable small screen roles include the angel Gabriel on the fantasy comedy "Good Omens" and Tony Stark on the bizarre Marvel comedy "M.O.D.O.K." In the realm of cinema, Hamm has built up an eclectic body of work across various genres. His best known films include Edgar Wright's 2017 crime flick "Baby Driver," the 2018 comedy "Tag," Zack Snyder's kaleidoscopic 2011 epic "Sucker Punch," and the 2018 noir-tinged crime drama "Bad Times at the El Royale."

Jennifer Connelly is comfortable in every genre

In "Top Gun: Maverick," Jennifer Connelly plays Penny Benjamin, a single mother who owns a bar and has her own ties to the armed forces. Alas, Kelly McGillis, who played the romantic lead in the original film, was not asked to return for the sequel. Thus, Maverick finds himself drawn to Penny in the 2022 flick.

Connelly started acting when she was still a teenager, appearing in movies like 1984's "Once Upon a Time in America" and the classic 1986 fantasy "Labyrinth." She went on to star in a wide variety of films, including 1991's "The Rocketeer," 1998's "Dark City," 2000's "Pollock," and the 2001 biopic "A Beautiful Mind," for which she won an Academy Award.

In recent years, Connelly has enjoyed roles in an ever greater range of work. She played Karen, Peter Parker's suit A.I., in 2017's "Spider-Man: Homecoming," and starred in Robert Rodriguez's instant cult classic "Alita: Battle Angel" in 2019. She also stars as Melanie Cavill on TNT's "Snowpiercer," based on the 2013 film by Bong Joon-ho, which is in turn based on the 1982 graphic novel of the same name.

Lewis Pullman had a bad time at the El Royale

Unlike most of the hot-shots in "Top Gun: Maverick," Lewis Pullman's character does not have a cool callsign. Instead, Lieutenant Robert Floyd's moniker is simply "Bob," the best-known shortening of his first name. He serves as WSO (weapons systems officer) to Phoenix, as Goose did to Maverick in the original film. With a little luck, Bob will hopefully avoid Goose's fate.

Pullman is best known for starring alongside Jon Hamm in writer-director Drew Goddard's 2018 thriller "Bad Times at the El Royale." While it wasn't a significant financial success, the film did do fairly well with the critics and received much praise for its slick 1960s setting and outstanding use of period music. Pullman also starred in Hulu's "Catch-22" miniseries, which debuted in 2019. Here, he plays the oddly named Major Major Major Major: The character's legal name is Major Major Major, and he holds the actual rank of major. Pullman made recent waves by appearing on "Outer Range," a 2022 Amazon Prime Video sci-fi series also starring Josh Brolin and Imogen Poots.

Greg Davis can be found at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital

Greg Davis plays Lieutenant Javy "Coyote" Machado in "Top Gun: Maverick." This is Davis' second role in a theatrical feature: His previous credits all come from TV series, shorts, and TV movies, such as 2018's "Tales From the Hood 2" and 2017's "Controversy." His single prior theatrical credit came from 2020's "The Call of the Wild," in which he plays an unnamed orchard worker. Davis got his start on social media platforms like Vine and Instagram, where he became known as "Tarzan." This quickly led to work in Hollywood, where he's one of the most exciting up-and-comers in the business.

Apparently, Davis made a significant impression on leading man Tom Cruise as they worked on "Top Gun: Maverick," since they're set to share the screen again in 2023's "Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One." For those wondering what all the fuss is about, Davis can be found on "Grey's Anatomy" in the recurring role of Dr. Jordan Wright. It's unclear how big his role will be in the upcoming "Mission: Impossible" film or if he'll also star in "Dead Reckoning Part Two," but one thing is clear: Davis is a rising star, and the world is his oyster.

Jean Louisa Kelly starred on a beloved sitcom

Jean Louisa Kelly plays a small role in "Top Gun: Maverick" as Sarah Kazansky, wife of Val Kilmer's Iceman. Kelly made her film debut as a teenager in the 1989 John Hughes comedy "Uncle Buck." Before that role, she'd already made waves by playing Snow White on Broadway in the legendary Stephen Sondheim musical "Into the Woods." She wasn't just part of this iconic production, though — she was a member of the original Broadway cast. Kelly took a short break from professional acting to pursue her education at Columbia University, but returned soon enough to appear in movies like 1995's "Mr. Holland's Opus" and 2000's "The Fantasticks." General audiences probably know her best for her performance as even-keeled Kim Warner on "Yes, Dear," a CBS sitcom that ran from 2000 to 2006.

More recently, Kelly played a small role in 2015's "Ant-Man" and the 2020 adaptation of "The Call of the Wild." She also had a memorable role in 2021's "Malignant," which added an intriguing dash of horror to her already packed filmography.

Charles Parnell served on The Last Ship

In "Top Gun: Maverick," Charles Parnell plays Rear Admiral Solomon "Warlock" Bates. But this isn't the first time he's played a prominent Navy officer. For five seasons, he starred as Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Russell "Russ" Jeter on the hit TNT series "The Last Ship." He also played the CIA Director in 2014's "Transformers: Age of Extinction." Playing steel-eyed authority figures is basically his bread and butter, but it's definitely not the extent of his talents — Parnell has been making audiences laugh for years as Jefferson Twilight, aging vampire hunter, on the cult favorite animated series "The Venture Bros."

It seems as though Tom Cruise and director Joseph Kosinski enjoyed working with Parnell, since he has gone on to collaborate with both of them after making "Top Gun: Maverick." Parnell will appear in "Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One" with Tom Cruise in 2023, and is also featured in Kosinski's 2022 flick "Spiderhead." As reported by CNBC, "Top Gun: Maverick" suffered numerous delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that "Spiderhead" landed a premiere date just one month after the one "Top Gun: Maverick" finally settled on. Though this might be frustrating for the filmmakers, it makes 2022 a seriously big year for Charles Parnell.

Ed Harris isn't a man to mess with

In the U.S. Navy, Rear Admiral Chester "Hammer" Cain calls the shots. Appropriately, he's played by Ed Harris, who has a history of playing authoritative tough guys, be they in the military, organized crime, or the most secretive echelons of government. Some of his more memorable movies include 2001's "Buffalo Soldiers," 1995's "Nixon," 1995's "Apollo 13," and 1996's "The Rock." 2000's "Pollock," based on the life of painter Jackson Pollock, stands out as an intriguing outlier in his filmography: Harris starred in and directed that film.

Suffice it to say, Harris enjoyed a lot of success in the 1990s and 2000s. But recent decades have brought new successes for the veteran actor. Major roles in celebrated films like 2007's "Gone Baby Gone," 2013's "Snowpiercer," and 2021's "The Lost Daughter" have seen him collaborate with talents like Ben Affleck and Olivia Colman, while his starring role as the Man in Black on HBO's sci-fi saga "Westworld" has kept viewers on the edge of their seats. Video game enthusiasts might also recognize Harris as the voice of Jason Hudson in  2010's "Call of Duty: Black Ops."

Val Kilmer fought crime in Gotham city

In "Top Gun: Maverick," Val Kilmer returns as Tom "Iceman" Kazansky. Iceman has become a prestigious admiral, which means he solidly outranks his old friend Maverick, who holds the rank of captain.

Val Kilmer exploded onto the Hollywood scene in 1984, when he made his cinematic debut in the lead role of Nick Rivers in the outrageously comedic "Top Secret!" He followed that up with roles in movies like 1988's "Willow" and 1985's "Real Genius" before delivering a truly transformative performance as Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone's 1991 biopic "The Doors." Despite all this success, to a generation of superhero enthusiasts, Kilmer will always be remembered as the title character in 1995's "Batman Forever." This cape-and-cowl flick sees him battle Two-Face and the Riddler, played by Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carrey, respectively.

A recent battle with throat cancer left Kilmer with a diminished and raspy voice, as revealed by The Hollywood Reporter. Yet Kilmer remains a major Hollywood presence, appearing in productions like 2020's "Paydirt" and 2021's "The Birthday Cake." "Top Gun: Maverick" is just one more success in his glittering career.

Tom Cruise needs no introduction

After 36 years, Tom Cruise reprises his role as Captain Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, the swiftest pilot in the sky. By 1986, Cruise had already made a name for himself with roles in "The Outsiders" and "Risky Business," both released in 1983. But it was "Top Gun" that turned him into a full-tilt superstar, a status he has maintained ever since — flops like 2017's "The Mummy" notwithstanding.

Cruise's most famous role is likely secret agent Ethan Hunt of the "Mission: Impossible" franchise. Beginning with 1996's "Mission: Impossible," Cruise has played the character in all six movies of the series, with two more scheduled for 2023 and 2024. The franchise has grossed over $3 billion worldwide to date, with more sure to come. Cruise's other high-profile films include 1999's "Eyes Wide Shut," 2003's "The Last Samurai," 2004's "Collateral," 2002's "Minority Report," and 2005's "War of the Worlds." Let's be real: Cruise's fame is so vast, there's virtually zero chance you're wondering what productions you know him from. But it never hurts to take a tour through his impressive oeuvre.