Jennifer Connelly on 'Top Gun: Maverick': I was immensely flattered and excited

“Just meeting Tom Cruise was exciting for me”

jennifer-connelly-ap Jennifer Connelly attends a special screening of "Top Gun: Maverick" in New York | AP

Actor Jennifer Connelly says she had nostalgic memories of watching Tom Cruise in 1986 blockbuster "Top Gun", but she never thought she would be invited to be a part of the iconic film's sequel over three decades later.

Top Gun: Maverick brings back Cruise as the US aviator Pete "Maverick" Mitchell and also features Connelly among the new set of characters.

Recalling her memories of watching the original film, Connelly said what stayed with her were the scenes of F-14 fighter jets flying in the desert and Cruise in his uniform. "The flying blew me away in 'Top Gun'. And another thing that really stood out was just Tom Cruise in that jacket and on the motorcycle. It was iconic, it has nostalgic memories," the 51-year-old actor said.

Maverick is set over thirty years after the events of the first film and sees Maverick returning to the Top Gun institute and training a group of graduates, including Rooster, the son of his late wingman Goose, for a specialised mission.

Kelly McGills featured in the Tony Scott-directed original and her on-screen chemistry with Cruise was one of the highlights of the film. McGills, however, is not returning for the sequel and the makers decided to cast Connelly in a new role opposite Cruise.

Connelly said she owes the opportunity to feature in the sequel to director Joseph Kosinski, who had earlier worked with her for his 2017 movie Only the Brave.

"I had worked with Joe before on a movie called 'Only The Brave'. And I liked Joe very much and he called me (for this movie). I was excited that he wanted to work with me again. And then he told me it was about 'Top Gun' and I was immensely flattered and excited.

"I had never met Tom Cruise before. Just meeting him was exciting for me and working with him was really a great experience," the actor said.

In the film, Connelly essays the role of Penelope "Penny" Benjamin, a bar owner and a single mother, who had a past relationship with Maverick.

As an actor, Connelly said that she never looks for roles "who I feel aligned with" as she believes that the most wonderful aspect of cinema is the opportunity to step into the lives of varied characters.

For her, Penny is one of those characters. "One of the things that I love about making movies is spending time with characters who have very different lives than I have and maybe make very different choices than I would make. I find that really interesting.

"With Penny, I like how optimistic and warm she is. I think she's a deeply kind person. I think she's somebody who wants to be happy and live a good life. And she's been coming to understand herself and moving through challenges, but she does that with humour which I really like about her."

Connelly said Kosinski, known for films such as "Tron: Legacy" and "Oblivion", has aced the method of making movies in a way that balances big-budget spectacle cinema with intimate storytelling.

"I feel he's someone who's able to manage that and at the same time preserve the sort of details that make sweeping stories really impactful on an emotional level. He's able to find those moments when you have a big story to tell.

"Sometimes those details can get lost. And I think that he's always really mindful of keeping in those character details and relationship details that make the stories really resonate with the audiences."

Top Gun: Maverick is produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, Tom Cruise, Christopher McQuarrie and David Ellison.

The film also features Miles Teller, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Lewis Pullman, Charles Parnell, Bashir Salahuddin, Monica Barbaro, Jay Ellis, Danny Ramirez, Greg Tarzan Davis with Ed Harris and Val Kilmer.

The Paramount Pictures movie is exclusively distributed in India by Viacom18 Studios and will release in theatres on May 27.