Val Kilmer recently shared his thoughts about reuniting with fellow Top Gun actor Tom Cruise nearly 30 years after the original film. In the original film, Kilmer played Ice Man, the antagonist to Cruise’s Maverick.
“It was like no time had passed at all,” Kilmer shared with Entertainment Weekly on Thursday, as reported by Fox News. “We blew a lot of takes laughing so much,” he continued. “It was really fun … special.”
Kilmer, 62, reprised his role as Tom “Ice Man” Kazansky for the sequel; though his work is limited due to complications from throat cancer. During the 1980s, both Kilmer and Cruise took Hollywood by storm. There could have been a real-world rivalry on set, but Kilmer swears the two actors always enjoyed each other.
“We were all so young during the making of the first movie, but even then there was a special bond between us all,” Kilmer said. “Even after shooting we would laugh and dance the night away!”
Kilmer said he jumped at the chance to play the character again. “Tom called me. I said yes immediately,” he said.
In the film, Cruise’s Pete “Maverick” Mitchell is asked to return to the program to teach a new batch of recruits. The film didn’t necessarily need the rivalry with Ice Man as a plot point, but it needed Kilmer’s presence for authenticity and fan service.
Top Gun: Maverick earned a staggering $151 million in its first weekend alone
The film’s director, Joseph Kosinski, said Kilmer actually came up with some of the plot direction for his character.
“You had to figure out a way to bring Iceman in,” Kosinski said. “We met with Val. He had the idea of how to integrate Iceman in a really authentic way.”
In the film, Kilmer’s character struggles with an illness that took his voice — just like in real life for Kilmer, himself. Now five years after the diagnosis, both Kilmer and his Top Gun character communicate primarily through writing.
Kosinski said he wasn’t sure how the Cruise/Kilmer reunion would work aesthetically, but he thinks it turned out “beautifully.”
“Obviously [we] spent a lot of time on that scene, writing it, getting ready,” Kosinski said. “I wasn’t sure how it was going to work. … It’s a really beautiful scene. We shot it in Los Angeles in a really beautiful house up on a park. Very special to see not only Val and Tom, but Maverick and Iceman back on the screen together.”
Kilmer’s presence, plus the producer’s decision to wait out the pandemic for a theatrical release, seems to have really paid off. Top Gun: Maverick has captured the country’s thirst for Americana programming that celebrates the USA rather than critiques it. The film is on track to be Cruise’s best box office performance of his career as a result.