Monica Barbaro survived Top Gun: Maverick thanks to ballet and ‘high pain tolerance’
When Monica Barbaro first learned that she had booked a role in Top Gun: Maverick, a pipe burst in his family home. “All hell was breaking loose,” Barbaro tells me on Zoom from Toronto, where she’s filming an upcoming Netflix spy series. “I was like, ‘Mom, I got the part and she’s not a lover, she’s a pilot! We were both tearing it up and she was like, I gotta call the plumber.
Four years after getting that call and nearly three since filming wrapped in June 2019, the highly anticipated sequel to Tom Cruise’s 1986 classic is finally here, introducing a new cast of elite naval aviators. Among the adrenaline junkies vying for a spot on a dangerous mission led by Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Cruise) is the franchise’s first female fighter pilot, Lt. Natasha “Phoenix” Trace.
While Barbaro’s costars include major Hollywood actors like Glen Powell, Miles Teller and Jay Ellis, the lesser-known actor had a secret advantage for hours of grueling training in flight and water survival. Now 31, the San Francisco native graduated from NYU’s BFA dance program in 2010 before returning to California to pursue an acting career. Little did she know that years of ballet provided her with the tools and “high pain tolerance” needed to stay conscious while performing aerial maneuvers in real F-18 fighter jets.
“There was a funny moment where a couple of guys said they hated hanging upside down, and I was like, ‘I’ve been upside down forever,'” Barbaro laughs. before the flights… it helped me control some of the weird sensations of blood rushing into spaces that you don’t usually want.” Because of this, Barbaro is one of the few actors on set who didn’t vomit while filming his intense flight sequences.
She may not have arrived on the set of Superior gun with a stacked IMDB profile but that’s about to change. In addition to starring alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in the aforementioned spy thriller, Barbaro is signed for another TV series and two more movies in various stages of filming and post-production. In Glamour latest episode of New Here, Monica Barbaro talks about the inspiration behind her Superior gun character, breaking the rules on set and what it’s like to have a Barbie designed just like you.