Since the release of the first teaser, it has been obvious that the much anticipated follow-up to 1986’s high-flying blockbuster Top Gun will evoke sentimental memories of the original movie. Top Gun: Maverick is a sequel to the Tony Scott-directed original, which earned $356 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo, and included heart-pounding aerial combat manoeuvres and shirtless volleyball matches.
Top Gun will always be recognised as the movie that transformed Tom Cruise from teenage heartthrob to true leading man, one death-defying sequence at a time, despite the fact that the original film included a cast of well-known performers whose careers would largely develop in the years after release.
The Hollywood Reporter examines what the Top Gun ensemble has been up to since nailing the landing more than three decades ago in honour of the sequel.
Early in the 1980s, Anthony Edwards had a steady career in TV and small film roles, but his breakthrough performance as Gilbert in the outrageous college comedy Revenge of the Nerds established him as a true leading man. Edwards played Goose, a radar intercept officer and Maverick’s constant sidekick in the hugely successful Top Gun, whose life takes a terrible turn halfway through the movie. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Edwards took on a number of TV movie roles until he was cast as Mark Greene in the medical drama ER. For this role, he received four Emmy nominations for outstanding lead actor in a drama series. His career in television has continued with parts in Netflix’s Inventing Anna, Law & Order, and Billions. Miles Teller plays Goose’s kid in Top Gun: Maverick. He is a new pilot being trained by his father’s old wingman.
Producer of Top Gun Jerry Bruckheimer saw Kelly McGillis in Witness with Harrison Ford as an Amish woman, and he hired her to play Charlie Blackwood, the tough teacher and love interest. Even after becoming a great star in the late 1980s and enjoying enormous financial success with Top Gun, McGillis primarily kept to theatrical roles. He did, however, star in a few films, including The Accused in 1988. Since then, she has been in a number of short independent films, occasionally appeared on television, and has continued to act in plays.
Meg Ryan had only made a few TV appearances before to being cast as Goose’s wife, Carole, including Rich and Famous in 1981 and Amityville 3-D two years later. Of course, Top Gun was just the beginning; soon after, she starred in success after smash, including When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, Courage Under Fire, You’ve Got Mail, and Kate & Leopold. Ryan later made the switch to directing, debuting with the 2015 movie Ithaca.
Canadian-born Michael Ironside started performing in films in the late 1970s, but he gained notoriety for his role as cunning psychic Darryl Revok in David Cronenberg’s sci-fi horror film Scanners from 1981. Before being chosen to play Jester, Viper’s No. 2 instructor in Top Gun, he played similarly terrifying roles in a number of low-budget films. His career wasn’t significantly impacted by the switch in genre because he kept playing sci-fi characters in movies like Starship Troopers, Total Recall, and Highlander II: The Quickening. With roles in shows like Tales From the Crypt, Walker, Texas Ranger, ER, and Desperate Housewives, he has also had a successful television career. He just made an appearance on The Dropout on Hulu.
Tim Robbins already had a recurring part on the TV series St. Elsewhere in 1982, despite having only received his drama degree from UCLA. Before he was eventually cast in Top Gun as Merlin, Maverick’s backseater toward the film’s conclusion, he first appeared in several little parts. Bull Durham, which came out in 1988, was Robbins’ real breakthrough movie. Jacob’s Ladder, The Player, and The Shawshank Redemption, in which Robbins played the quiet but brilliant prisoner Andy Dufresne, followed. Robbins won an Oscar for the 2004 film Mystic River, and his acting career has never really slowed down. He recently as a felonious DuPont lawyer in the 2019 movie Dark Waters and Reginald “Pop” Merrill in Castle Rock, a Stephen King adaptation on Hulu.
By the time he was chosen to play Lieutenant Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, Tom Cruise’s notoriety was growing. Cruise was quickly rising to fame between The Outsiders and Risky Business (for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe for best actor), when he climbed into the cockpit of an F-14 Tomcat and engaged Russian MiGs in head-to-head combat. He appeared in Stanley Kubrick’s final picture, Eyes Wide Shut, alongside Dustin Hoffman, and even played a villain in Michael Mann’s Collateral. He couldn’t have stopped being a leading man if he’d tried. For his major roles in Born on the Fourth of July and Jerry Maguire, as well as his supporting role in Magnolia, he has received three acting Oscar nominations. Cruise is still portraying Ethan Hunt, the enigmatic spy at the centre of the Mission: Impossible movies, in Top Gun: Maverick, reprising his primary role as the disobedient stick jockey.
Tom Skerritt had been appearing in movies since 1962’s War Hunt, thus he was already in the middle of his acting career when he was cast as the wise instructor pilot Viper. He played a variety of television characters throughout the 1960s, frequently portraying soldiers or cowboys in Combat!, The Virginian, and Gunsmoke. In Robert Altman’s 1970 satire MASH, he appeared as a soldier once more alongside Elliot Gould and Donald Sutherland. He is possibly most recognised for his role as Capt. Dallas, captain of the tragic starship Nostromo in Ridley Scott’s 1979 science fiction horror film Alien. Following Top Gun, Skerritt had numerous other film and television appearances, including Steel Magnolias and Cheers. He also earned an Emmy for his portrayal of Sheriff Brock in Picket Fences. He has continued acting, appearing in the 2021 drama film East of the Mountains with Mira Sorvino.
Many of the stars of Top Gun were haunted by their roles, and Val Kilmer is no exception. Kilmer was chosen for the role of Iceman, the cool-headed, methodical adversary, after enjoying success as the showrunner of the teen sci-fi comedy Real Genius. In a heartwarming sequence of wingmanship toward the end of the movie, Iceman, who portrays Maverick’s relentless tormentor, eventually warms to the rebellious nature of the film’s hero. In the years that followed, Kilmer appeared in a wide range of movies, such as Willow, The Doors (as leader Jim Morrison), True Romance, Tombstone, Heat, and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Kilmer has a brief part in the most recent Jay and Silent Bob movie, Reboot, after being sidelined by health issues in previous years. He appears in Top Gun: Maverick as a cameo as Iceman once more.
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