Frontrunners for the coveted role included Miles Teller, Nicholas Hoult, and Glen Powell.
Update: Variety has now confirmed that Miles Teller will play Goose’s son.
Family. The real glue that keeps franchises intact. Without the anchor of brotherhood, sisterhood, or parental guidance – be it from blood relatives or a found family – many movies would fall apart due to sheer emptiness. And when it comes to an unabashedly cheesy ‘80s movie like Top Gun, testosterone-fuelled and patriotic to boot, we definitely need a good dose of emotional resonance to balance out what is essentially a noisy rule-bending joyride.
Thankfully, Top Gun’s protagonist, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) does treasure his relationships. Maverick may be a loose cannon who breaks the rules a little too often, but he builds camaraderie with almost everyone regardless. His close friendship with navy flight officer LTJG Nick “Goose” Bradshaw (Anthony Edwards) is the strongest relationship in the film by far, and it isn’t only weighty because of their missions aboard a fighter plane. Maverick also establishes a stable family unit with Goose’s wife (Meg Ryan) and son.
Top Gun’s 110-minute runtime sadly doesn’t dedicate much time to this particular dynamic, but the scenes between Maverick and the Bradshaws are the ones with the most heart. It then makes perfect sense to continue that legacy in the Top Gun sequel, which has been floating around for a long time. As the film properly begins production, we have confirmation that Goose’s child will make an appearance in Top Gun: Maverick.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, three hopefuls have been shortlisted to play Goose’s son in the sequel, which will be helmed by Joseph Kosinski (Oblivion). Producers have reportedly been testing for the role for weeks, and notable names such as Dylan O’Brien and Austin Butler were once considered for the coveted role. Now, Nicholas Hoult, Glen Powell, and Miles Teller are all that’s left in the running to star alongside Cruise and Val Kilmer, who is returning as Maverick’s rival, Iceman.
In the original Top Gun, Goose’s son was just a cute kid (played byAaron Weiss and Adam Weiss). He didn’t even have a name, let alone any lines (he was called Bradley, according to the Top Gun wiki, though in the sequel his name is credited as Wrigley). Hence, it’s virtually impossible to determine what kind of role he will play in the sequel. All three shortlisted actors have each received critical acclaim for playing a reasonable variety of characters, though, making them all suitable candidates for the part for different reasons.
Hoult found his claim to fame as the most insufferable character imaginable and played it almost too well. His role as Tony Stonem in Skins was a real testament to his abilities as he deftly and wholeheartedly portrayed the king of self-centered douchebags. Hoult has since followed the role up with much more likable characters, and he doesn’t simply perform these parts without nuance either. As both Hank McCoy in the X-Men prequel series and Nux in Mad Max: Fury Road, Hoult showcases a knack for balanced portrayals of characters who unfortunately don’t really get much of an arc due to their place in big ensemble films. However, he is, more often than not, memorable even when he doesn’t fill a leading role.
Powell was introduced to the masses as a stock douche character too, although his breakout work has taken in a more idiosyncratic slant than Hoult’s did. First came Ryan Murphy’s Scream Queens, which revels in its absurdism and allowed Powell to play an outrageous version of the definitive frat boy: self-obsessed, promiscuous, and arrogant. Then, Powell featured in the Richard Linklater vehicle Everybody Wants Some!!. This spiritual sequel to the director’s earlier hangout comedy, Dazed and Confused, served as an opportunity for Powell to disappear into an ‘80s dudebro persona. But what’s really caught my eye recently is his performance in the Netflix comedy Set It Up. Powell plays a thoroughly genuine, if archetypal, romantic lead. It’s the perfect counterpoint to other roles that he is most known for.
Finally, there’s Teller, who recently returned to his indie roots after a string of shoddy big-budget movies. The goodwill that he had earned during his early days of critical acclaim in The Spectacular Now and Whiplash fizzled out slightly for a couple of reasons. Teller not only took on roles in generic comedies like That Awkward Moment and Two Night Stand, he also featured in generally panned blockbusters, namely Divergent and the Fantastic Four reboot. Yet regardless of some lackluster film choices, his performances have remained praiseworthy, and he has been making a bit of a comeback by going down the biographical drama route. Bleed for This, Only the Brave, and Thank You For Your Service may be small to medium budget movies, but they garner much of their power from Teller’s portrayals.
The freshness of Set It Up endears me most to Powell as the main frontrunner. His ability to take a stock character type and ground him in reality immediately feels suitable for a burgeoning series that is essentially built on a traditional monomyth. The role of Goose’s son is as important to Top Gun: Maverick as the eponymous pilot himself, as he will likely be the same kind of emotional rock to Maverick that Goose was in the original. Top Gun is good cheesy fun because of its ability to defy and indulge in tropes in equal measure. It would be a great idea to cast an actor who’s been doing exactly that and excelling at it.