Whip Hubley, who starred as Lt. Rick “Hollywood” Neven in the original “Top Gun,” was working at his construction job in Kennebunk on Thursday. He plans to see the sequel, but is in no rush, saying “I think it’s going to be around for a while.”  Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Despite playing a hotshot fighter pilot named Hollywood in the original “Top Gun,” Whip Hubley is definitely not the glitz and glamour type.

The South Portland resident works as a manager for a Portland construction firm and acts as much as he can with theater groups in southern Maine. Even though “Top Gun” has been part of his life for 36 years, he’s in no rush to see the sequel, “Top Gun: Maverick,” which opens at theaters nationwide Friday.

Whip Hubley became a star playing a young hotshot F-14 fighter pilot in the 1986 hit “Top Gun.” Courtesy of Dinah Minot

“We knew (the original) was going to be a big movie, but the notion that people would still be talking about it and asking about it all these years later never occurred to me,” Hubley, 65, said Thursday from a job site in Kennebunkport. “I’m sure I’ll see (the sequel), but I’m not going to rush out to a theater. I think it’s going to be around for a while.”

Part of the reason he might not see it right away is that he’s not completely comfortable sitting in a crowded theater for two hours, with COVID cases still surging.

Hubley has spent a lot of time over the past three decades talking about “Top Gun,” in TV interviews and with people fascinated to find out that he was part of such an icon of ’80s pop culture. So he’s not surprised a sequel was made, even after so many years. When the film celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2016, he was invited to a celebration at the base where it was filmed, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, in San Diego.

Movie audiences have shown too that they love big action films, like the Marvel superhero movies, Hubley said. “Top Gun” was certainly a big action film back in its day, with high-energy combat scenes in high-powered fighter jets, and the sequel – originally scheduled for release in 2019 and delayed further by the pandemic – has been highly anticipated by its large fan base.


Hubley’s character was one of several Navy pilots undergoing elite training in the original “Top Gun.” Although the movie centers on Tom Cruise’s character, Maverick, he spends a lot of time with a group of fellow trainees with slick nicknames like Goose (Anthony Edwards), Slider (Rick Rossovich), Iceman (Val Kilmer) and Wolfman (Barry Tubb).

The sequel focuses on Cruise’s character as a veteran test pilot training a new crop of young pilots. The only other pilot from the original film who appears in the sequel is Kilmer’s Iceman, now an admiral.

Hubley said, based on the sequel’s storyline, he understands why his and other characters weren’t included.

“I can’t really see the value of bringing a bunch of old guys back,” said Hubley. “I read a review (of the sequel) that says it’s better than the first, that it has more substance.”

Hubley moved from California to Maine about six years ago with his wife, Dinah Minot, executive director of the arts agency Creative Portland. They were empty-nesters with three grown children and wanted to settle down in a place that felt like home. Minot grew up north of Boston and has deep family roots on North Haven. Hubley grew up in New York and learned to love Maine through annual trips with the family.

Whip Hubley appeared in a string of movies in the mid-1980s, and has acted in local theater, as well as doing construction, since moving to Maine about six years ago with his wife, Dinah Minot, executive director of the arts agency Creative Portland. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Since moving to Maine, Hubley has acted in several local theater productions, including “We Can Eat Love” at Portland Stage’s Studio Theater in 2019 and “You Got Older” at Mad Horse Theatre in South Portland in October. He works full time for the construction firm Barrett Made.


From 1985-87, Hubley appeared in a string of films, including “St. Elmo’s Fire,” “Top Gun” and “Russkies.” He played the lead in the latter, a Russian sailor named Mischa who washes up on the Florida coast during the Cold War. He has done a lot of TV work over the years, including the miniseries “North and South, Book II.”

Hubley said, when he first read the script for “Top Gun,” he thought it was more of an ensemble film, focusing on the group of pilots. But Cruise was on the verge of being a major star and the producers “realized what they had with Tom” and focused the film more around him, Hubley said.

As Hollywood in “Top Gun,” Hubley had a lot of screen time in high-intensity in-air sequences. It was directed by Tony Scott and became a commercial and cultural hit, setting the modern-day standard for fighter-jet action movies and earning its way into the National Film Registry in 2015.

Hubley said Thursday the most memorable part of filming “Top Gun” was the time he spent flying in an F-14 jet with real Navy pilots. The camera was rigged in such a way that it looked like Hubley was in the pilot’s seat, but he was in the back. The Navy pilot he flew with had a nickname worthy of any Hollywood film: Bozo.

“That was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s something I never imagined I’d do and will probably never do again,” Hubley said.

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