- Ellis told Insider that the cast lived up to their callsigns on their first night out together.
- The actor recalled what happened when he went out with Glen Powell, Lewis Pullman and Monica Barbaro.
- “We all got our call signs that night,” he said.
It didn’t take long for the cast of “Top Gun: Maverick” to realize that they resembled the fighter pilots they wanted to portray in the hit movie.
In fact, Jay Ellis, who plays pilot Ruben “Payback” Fitch in the film, said that it was on the first night with the cast that they all lived up to their assigned pilot callsigns.
Ellis told Insider when he got the script that he wasn’t completely sold on the Payback call sign. Director Joseph Kosinski told him, and the rest of the cast, that if they could come up with better, he was happy to explore a change.
“When we all heard that, we all felt like this is my way of putting my stamp on the movie,” Ellis said.
While brainstorming, Ellis and colleagues Monica Barbaro, whose call sign was “Phoenix,” Lewis Pullman, who was “BOB,” and Glen Powell, who was given “Hangman,” went to the actual Top Gun location in Nevada to meet. the real pilots.
“We go out with all the officers,” Ellis recalled. “Lewis doesn’t talk to us all night. He was a total BOB. We said, ‘Is he the method?’ He later told us he was just really nervous.”
“Monica was going to prove she could hang with everyone that night and then literally rise from the ashes like a phoenix the next day,” he continued.
“And there was a moment in the night when I got the phone to Lewis, I told him my phone was dead and he gave it to me,” he said. “Now, in the Navy, if you hang up the phone at a bar, you have to buy drinks for the whole bar.”
There is a scene in “Top Gun: Maverick” that mirrors this tradition. In the film, Tom Cruise’s character has his phone at Penny Benjamin’s (Jennifer Connelly) bar and has to buy a round for all the patrons.
“I put Lewis on the phone at the bar and the bartender rings,” Ellis said. “There’s about 100 people in there who got a free beer. So in the end I had to pay him back the price he paid for.”
“And Glen, like the Hangman, in the middle of the night, just disappeared,” Ellis added with a laugh. “He just went back to his hotel room. Didn’t tell anyone.”
From that moment on, the cast clearly realized they didn’t need to find new callsigns.
“It was our first night together and we all got our call signs that night,” Ellis said.
“Top Gun: Maverick” is currently in theaters.