‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Director Recalls Showing Val Kilmer His Iconic Scene

by Taylor Cunningham

While Val Kilmer’s character was crucial to Top Gun: Maverick, the actor only appeared in the movie for a brief cameo due to his current health battles. Because of that, the cast and crew were dedicated to making Kilmer proud of the scene.

Kilmer was one of the main stars in the 1986 original. But in 2010, he was diagnosed with throat cancer. As a result, chemo left his body worn and his voice almost completely lost. Today, he speaks with the help of an artificial voice box.

Nonetheless, Tom Cruise demanded that Kilmer somehow play a role in Top Gun: Maverick. According to producer Jerry Bruckheimer, everyone wanted the actor to be a part of the story. But it was Cruise who pushed to make it happen. He was “adamant” that if there was going to be a continuation of the story, Iceman had to be in it.

“‘We have to have Val, we have to have him back. And we have to have him in the film,’ ” Bruckheimer remembered Cruise saying. “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.”

Tom Cruise Worked Nonstop to Ensure that Iceman Got the Perfect Sendoff in ‘Top Gun: Maverick’

And Cruise got his wish. Kilmer managed to make it onscreen. But more important than him being involved in the project was giving him a proper tribute. When it came time to edit the scene, Cruise was a major part of the process. He had his hands on the creative aspects to make certain it was perfect, which it was. And Kosinski will never forget the moment that Kilmer first watched the final cut.

“I do remember showing it to Val for the first time,” he told Hollywood Reporter. “That’s a very distinct memory because he came in to watch parts of the film. So that was one scene I wanted him to see. And obviously, we were all a little nervous showing it to him just because we really wanted him to like it. But his response was beautiful. He was so happy and so moved by it that it made us all feel really good and that maybe we had gotten it right.”

The end result ended up making Val Kilmer more than proud. And even better, his presence in Top Gun: Maverick has become one of the most resoundingly loved aspects of the entire film. As Kilmer told the Los Angeles Times, the entire experience has left a lasting impression. And he has an endless appreciation for all the people who have been cheering him on from the start.

“I can’t believe how kind the whole world has been,” he shared. “I get hundreds of fan letters every week. It’s very humbling.”