‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Star Val Kilmer Talks ‘Emotional’ Reunion in the Sequel

by Suzanne Halliburton

So much of Top Gun: Maverick deals with Pete Mitchell’s relationship with Goose’s son, who he’s training for a near-impossible mission. But the sequel also is about the quiet dignity of Val Kilmer’s Admiral Kazansky, aka Iceman.

If you’re a long-time Top Gun fan, you know all about Kilmer’s brash, confident, handsome, super competitive Iceman. He was vying with Cruise’s Maverick for No. 1 in the 1986 Top Gun class. Iceman achieved the top ranking. But it had a lot to do with Maverick being overwhelmed with guilt when Goose died in a freak accident trying to eject from the plane. Then, in their first mission, Maverick shook out of his funk and shot down some mysterious MiGs. In the process, he also had Iceman’s back. The two land their planes on board an aircraft carrier in the Indian Ocean. Then they hug as the other aviators and sailors cheered.

Iceman tells Maverick “you can be my wingman, anytime.” And as the movie ended, more than a few fans pondered whether Iceman and Maverick, two strong personalities, could remain friends in their fictional world.

Here’s an iconic scene from the original Top Gun movie. (Paramount Pictures)

Kilmer’s Iceman Played Small But Vital Part in Top Gun: Maverick

Now, flash forward to Top Gun: Maverick. The sequel brought back Iceman, although Kilmer has a small role. He’s one of the few Top Gun actors from 1986 who made it to the 2022 film. While Maverick, a self-styled renegade, never reached a rank higher than Captain, Iceman became a four-star admiral in charge of the Navy’s Pacific fleet. And Iceman has kept Maverick, who doesn’t do well with official orders, in the Navy.

The two old friends communicate via text messages. About halfway through the movie, Maverick goes to Iceman’s home. He can barely talk because of an advanced disease. Top Gun: Maverick wrote in Kilmer’s own medical situation. He was treated for throat cancer about a decade ago and has lost his voice.

Val Kilmer is seen here with Tobey Maguire and Owen Wilson. Since he was treated for throat cancer, he often wears scarves around his neck. He also did so in Top Gun: Maverick. (Jerod Harris/Getty Images)

Kilmer Said He and Cruise “Laughed All Day” On Movie Set

Kilmer is doing media interviews to publicize the movie. But he writes down his answers. He talked to a USA Today reporter via email.

“I was very moved the first time I saw it.” Kilmer said of watching Top Gun: Maverick. “Almost 40 years is a long time for a reunion. We laughed all day. Tom is great and surprisingly funny!!”

Kilmer said he pushed to be added to the sequel. He suggested that Iceman be the one who kept saving Maverick from himself.

“It is nice to see Iceman reach such success in the career he loved,” Kilmer says of his new admiral status. “It’s a good story arc. And it was very exciting to be back at it with Tom.”

Spoiler alert. Iceman calls Maverick to his house to talk about the new pilots and their secret mission. That’s the only time we see Iceman in person. He’s wearing a scarf around his neck and is using a keyboard to communicate. But he does speak, saying “The Navy needs you Maverick.” As for the pilots “they need you.”

And just like they did on that aircraft carrier 36 years ago, they hug again. Kilmer said the hug was “straight from the heart.”

“I love Tom,” Kilmer said. “We’ve always gotten along great.”