Tom Cruise Was ‘Driving Force’ Behind Val Kilmer’s ‘Top Gun 2’ Role: He Was ‘Adamant’ Val Return

Between "Val" and "Top Gun: Maverick," Val Kilmer is having a resurgence this year.
TOP GUN, Val Kilmer, 1986
Val Kilmer in "Top Gun"
©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

Val Kilmer is having something of a comeback moment with the buzzy release of the documentary “Val” on Amazon Prime Video, and next up for the actor is a return to “Top Gun” by reprising the role of (now Admiral) Tom “Iceman” Kazansky opposite Tom Cruise in “Top Gun: Maverick.” Specifics on Kilmer’s “Top Gun” reprisal remain under wraps, but producer Jerry Bruckheimer recently told People magazine that it was Cruise himself who fought to include Kilmer in the sequel. Kilmer’s career took a pause after the actor lost the ability to speak in 2014 due to throat cancer treatment.

“[Tom Cruise] said, ‘We have to have Val, we have to have him back. We have to have him in the film,'” Bruckheimer said. “And he was the driving force. We all wanted him, but Tom was really adamant that if he’s going to make another ‘Top Gun,’ Val had to be in it.”

Bruckheimer added of Kilmer, “He’s such a fine actor, and he’s such a good individual. We had such a good time on the first one and wanted to bring some of the gang back together again…It was a really emotional experience for all of us. It was a long time getting there, but we did.”

“They honor the legacy of Iceman, and he was so stoked by it,” Val Kilmer’s son Jack told People. Jack, an actor in his own right and the star of “Palo Alto,” visited his father on the “Top Gun” Maverick” set alongside sister Mercedes. Kilmer’s children met “hundreds of real pilots” on set appearing as extras in the film who described how the original “Top Gun” inspired them.

“They were coming up to us and telling us that the first ‘Top Gun’ inspired them to join the Navy and the Air Force,” Jack said. “Then we had these big F-bomb planes flying overhead. It was like one of the proudest moments of being American that you could think of really.”

After several release delays because of the pandemic, “Top Gun: Maverick” is set to open in theaters November 19 from Paramount Pictures. The studio will make the “Top Gun” sequel available to stream on Paramount+ 45 days after its opening theatrical date.

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