'Top Gun' actor Barry Tubb sues Paramount over use of his likeness in 'Top Gun: Maverick'

Malia Mendez, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

LOS ANGELES — Barry Tubb feels the need — the need to plead.

Tubb, who played naval aviator Henry "Wolfman" Ruth in the 1986 blockbuster "Top Gun," is suing Paramount Pictures for its unauthorized use of his likeness in the franchise's 2022 sequel, "Top Gun: Maverick."

In the sequel, Tubb appears in a photograph of the fictional Top Gun Class of 1986 that reveals "Maverick" protagonist Bradley "Rooster" Bradshaw (Miles Teller) to be the son of the late Nick "Goose" Bradshaw (Anthony Edwards) from the first movie.

Tubb claims that Paramount's use of his likeness in this scene is "essential in a way that is not incidental." Yet the production company neither consulted nor compensated him.

Per the complaint, which was filed Feb. 21 in California Central District Court and has been reviewed by The Times, "Plaintiff never agreed to Paramount's use of his image, likeness, and/or identity in the movie 'Top Gun: Maverick.' Paramount's conduct is therefore misleading and deceptive by falsely and fraudulently representing that plaintiff is somehow affiliated with 'Top Gun: Maverick'; was contracted to perform in 'Top Gun: Maverick'; or was hired to promote, advertise, market, or endorse 'Top Gun: Maverick' on behalf of Paramount."

By "intentionally misappropriat[ing]" Tubb's image, Paramount has "utterly deprived plaintiff of the right and ability to negotiate the price of using his image or, ultimately, to say 'no' to its use," the suit said.

The complaint added that at the time of the original film's release, "movie sequels were virtually nonexistent. This is to indicate that no sequel was contemplated by either the plaintiff or Paramount when the contract between them was entered into on June 5, 1985."

According to Tubb, the photo featured in the sequel is actually an altered version of a behind-the-scenes shot of the original actors, nullifying any copyright claims.


Nonetheless, Paramount used it for "self-serving commercial purposes and their own business interests," court documents claimed, calling the company "an unapologetic, chronic, and habitual infringer."

They also suggested "upon information and belief" that other actors were consulted about "similar appearances" in advance of the film's release.

Tubb is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages — which his lawyers said shouldn't amount to less than $75,000 — and is demanding a trial by jury.

Fox News reported that Tubb was not interested in making a public statement; his lawyers said Tubb "believes the lawsuit and the exhibits speak for him. He's disappointed that it had to come to this, but trusts that the legal process will produce a just result."

Earlier this year, Puck reported that a third "Top Gun" film was in the works, with the Hollywood Reporter confirming that Tom Cruise is slated to reprise his role as Pete "Maverick" Mitchell.

"Top Gun: Maverick," which was released in May 2022, was nominated for best picture at the 2023 Oscars and grossed $1.496 billion worldwide, making it the fifth-highest grossing movie of all time.

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