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Image via Paramount Pictures

Was Penny from ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ in the first ‘Top Gun’ film?

A lot has changed for Maverick over the years.

Top Gun: Maverick was one of the biggest films of 2022, and now many movie fans who didn’t get the chance to catch the film in theaters are getting their shot thanks to Paramount Plus.

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The highly anticipated sequel to the 80’s film Top Gun is now available to watch on streaming, and if you’re a longtime fan of the original, you will be hit with a ton of nostalgia as many old faces return.

That said, there are some faces you may not be so familiar with and others that question whether you forgot their appearances in the original. One of these is the character of Penny.

Was Penny from Top Gun: Maverick in the first Top Gun film?

Jennifer Connelly's Penny gives a loving gaze while wearing a pilot's jacket and set against the backdrop of mountains in the distance.
Image via Paramount Pictures

Simply put, no. You won’t remember Penny from the first Top Gun film as she wasn’t in it. She was, however, mentioned through dialogue in the film.

Back in the ‘80s classic Top Gun, Tom Cruise’s character Maverick was in a relationship with Charlie, who Kelly McGillis plays. Neither the actress nor her character shows up in the new sequel. The reason? McGillis herself explained to ET that she simply didn’t get the call. However, she’d long left the Hollywood life behind to get “sober,” partly for the sake of her two daughters, Sonora and Kelsey Tillman. She continued:

“I think just my priorities in life changed […] It wasn’t like a major decision that I made to leave, it was just that other things became more important. I love acting, I love what I do, I love doing theater, but I don’t know. To me, my relationships to other people became far more important than my relationship to fame.”

How Penny Fits Into Top Gun: Maverick

Tom Cruise as Maverick is smiling against a backdrop of ocean waves as he is steering a ship and wearing a Navy jacket and sunglasses. Jennifer Connelly's Penny is standing behind him, also in shades and her hair done up in a pony tail, and also smiling.
Image via Paramount Pictures.

Now Maverick is in an on-again, off-again relationship with Penny Benjamin, played by Jennifer Connelly. The single mother who owns a bar near the Top Gun school location is an entirely new character for the sequel, so you’ll be wasting your time if you’re looking for her in the original.

The only mention of Penny Benjamin before Top Gun: Maverick comes in a throwaway line during the original movie. This occurs when CDR Tom “Stinger” Jardian, played by James Tolkan, reprimands Maverick for a dangerous mid-air maneuver, which also features the iconic line: “Your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash.” In the commander’s monologue, he mentions Maverick making a pass at an “admiral’s daughter” as part of the pilot’s long list of past transgressions.

While it won’t be from Top Gun, you may recognize Connelly from her roles in Requiem of a Dream, The Rocketeer, and A Beautiful Mind.

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Ryan Galloway
Assigning Editor for We Got This Covered, avid moviegoer and Marvel enjoyer.
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Danny Peterson
Danny Peterson covers entertainment news for WGTC and has previously enjoyed writing about housing, homelessness, the coronavirus pandemic, historic 2020 Oregon wildfires, and racial justice protests. Originally from Juneau, Alaska, Danny received his Bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Alaska Southeast and a Master's in Multimedia Journalism from the University of Oregon. He has written for The Portland Observer, worked as a digital enterprise reporter at KOIN 6 News, and is the co-producer of the award-winning documentary 'Escape from Eagle Creek.'