“Top Gun: Maverick” landed in theaters — and in our hearts — in May, amassing a mere $662,486,308 in the months since.
The sequel to the 1986 smash hit inevitably brought back some fan-favorite characters, such as Tom Cruise’s Capt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell and his nemesis-turned-bestie Iceman (Val Kilmer), but it also instilled new blood in the form a fresh batch of Top Gun aviators.
Two of those new pilots are Lt. Natasha Trace (Monica Barbaro) and her weapon systems officer Lt. Robert Floyd (Lewis Pullman) — “Phoenix” and “Bob,” respectively.
As it turns out, the pair love the call signs given to their characters.
“Yeah, I’m hoping to get it on my gravestone,” Pullman joked in an interview with Military Times. “Nothing about Lewis or Pullman. I just want Bob.”
Barbaro noted that someone recently told her the “Phoenix” moniker proves to be a bit of foreshadowing.
During one of the pilots’ training sessions featured in the movie, Phoenix and Bob hit a few stray birds and nearly go up in smoke before rising from the ashes.
“I had never thought of that,” Barbaro said.
Unfortunately, Pullman was tight-lipped about whether “Bob” has any secret meaning other than being a nickname for Robert.
“We leave it up for interpretation,” he said. “There are all sorts of theories. I won’t say which is right and which is wrong.”
In addition to their call signs, Barbaro and Pullman noted that they truly enjoyed making the film, training with the Navy and interacting with the military community.
“I met so many people, whether they be military spouses or people within the military themselves, who are just very appreciative of the representation in this film,” Barbaro said. “I think it does look a lot like the military does in terms of diversity and gender. I think people feel very proud of that, and that’s great.”
Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digitial Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.