Top Gun 2 Actress Explains Why She Left Tom Cruise Movie

Thomasin McKenzie, who was originally cast in Top Gun: Maverick, explains why she left the highly anticipated Tom Cruise project. The highest-grossing film of 1986 and a cultural touchstone, Top Gun stars Tom Cruise as Maverick, a reckless but charming U.S. Navy pilot who attends the highly competitive TOPGUN flight program. Despite Top Gun earning mixed reviews upon release, Cruise's performance and director Tony Scott's mounting of the aerial stunts were responsible for turning the film into a global phenomenon, even boosting real-life interest in naval recruitment in the process.

Talks of a sequel had been swirling since at least 2010, and after nearly a decade of development, cameras finally started rolling on Top Gun: Maverick in May 2018 with Cruise returning in the title role. The sequel appears to be following the first film's strategy of casting the biggest stars of the time, with Miles Teller, Jon Hamm, and Jennifer Connelly all rounding out the Top Gun: Maverick cast. McKenzie, who at the time was known largely for her critically acclaimed breakout performance in Leave No Trace, was cast as the daughter of Connelly's character, but was unfortunately forced to exit the film.

Related: How The Vietnam War Led To Top Gun

McKenzie opened up to Collider about the difficult decision to drop out of what is sure to be one of the biggest blockbusters of 2022. She explained that she had the choice between Top Gun: Maverick and the Netflix drama Lost Girls, about the real-life Long Island serial killer who targeted young female sex workers. Her instincts led her to choose Lost Girls due to the story it was telling and how it was a female-led production. Read McKenzie's quotes on departing Top Gun 2 below:

I think I really listen to my team because they’ve been in the industry for a lot longer than I have and so they have a lot more experience than I do. Also it just comes down to instincts. I was very lucky to have the option to do something else. I did Lost Girls instead. I was so honored to have been considered to be a part of Top Gun. That’s bloody amazing! It’s really, really cool. But I think Lost Girls was a story that I was really interested in telling that was a female director, basically the entire cast was female so I really wanted to be a part of that.

Since that decision over three years ago, McKenzie has become one of the most promising young actresses of her generation, racking up praise and working with one high-profile auteur after the other. She starred in Taika Waititi's World War II comedy-drama Jojo Rabbit, which itself garnered six Oscar nominations and landed her nominations among several critics associations. Her 2021 release calendar has been her busiest yet, with lead roles in the year's two biggest horror films, M. Night Shyamalan's Old and Edgar Wright's Last Night in Soho.

Whether or not Top Gun: Maverick would've earned McKenzie the same kind of praise is a question that can never be answered, but there's no doubt it would've launched her to even greater stardom. Paramount remains extra careful in its attempt to recreate the original film's global financial success, having delayed Top Gun 2 a whopping five times from its original July 2019 release. McKenzie's interests clearly align more with sophisticated storytelling than blockbuster potential, though audiences will just have to wait and see if those two qualities intersect in Top Gun: Maverick when it finally hopefully releases on May 27, 2022.

Next: Hot Shots: Why Top Gun’s Best Parody Was So Successful

Source: Collider

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