Top Gun actor will sue Paramount for use of his image in the sequel

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Barry Tubb, the talented actor who portrayed Lieutenant Junior Grade Henry “Wolfman” Ruth in the iconic 1986 film “Top Gun”, has taken legal action against Paramount Pictures. Tubb alleges that his likeness was used without authorization in the 2022 sequel, “Top Gun: Maverick”.

The Dispute

Tubb’s lawsuit centers around a critical moment in the sequel. Approximately 44 minutes into “Top Gun: Maverick”, one of the characters, Hangman (played by Glen Powell), notices a photograph of the Top Gun Class of 1986. In this fleeting scene, Wolfman’s face briefly appears alongside familiar figures like Goose (Anthony Edwards), Iceman (Val Kilmer), and Maverick (Tom Cruise). The camera focuses on Maverick before Hangman diverts attention to Goose, revealing that Goose is the father of their fellow recruit, Rooster (Miles Teller).

The Legal Argument

Barry Tubb contends that the term “sequel” never appeared in his original contract for the first “Top Gun.” As such, he believes that Paramount lacked the right to use his likeness more than 30 years later in the sequel. Tubb asserts that he was never contacted about the photo and never gave consent for its use. Seeking unspecified damages, he filed documents in a Los Angeles court¹.

Tubb’s Career and Impact

When Tubb landed the role of Wolfman in the original “Top Gun,” he was still relatively unknown. However, his portrayal left an indelible mark on audiences. Since then, he has appeared in various projects, including TV series like “American Playhouse,” “Billionaire Boys Club,” and “Lonesome Dove”. Tubb took a hiatus from acting in the mid-’90s but returned in the late ’90s and early 2000s with roles in films like “The Big Day” and “American Outlaws”. He also had a memorable six-episode run on the hit TV series “Friday Night Lights”.

Box Office Success

Despite the legal dispute, “Top Gun: Maverick” achieved remarkable success at the box office. The film grossed $1.495 billion worldwide, making it the second-highest-grossing film of 2022, trailing only “Avatar: The Way of Water”. Domestically, it dominated with $718.3 million, surpassing even “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”. As of now, “Top Gun: Maverick” stands as the sixth highest-grossing film of all time.

Paramount’s Response

Paramount Pictures has yet to issue an official statement regarding Barry Tubb’s lawsuit. Legal experts anticipate a vigorous legal battle, as the outcome could set a precedent for the use of actors’ likenesses in sequels and related media.

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