'Top Gun' cast: Then and now

·7 min read
Tom Cruise was 24 when he starred as ace pilot Maverick in 1986's Top Gun, a role he picks up 36 years later in Top Gun: Maverick. (Paramount)
Tom Cruise was 24 when he starred as ace pilot Maverick in 1986's Top Gun, a role he picks up 36 years later in Top Gun: Maverick. (Paramount)

It’s time to salute a legend, as we prepare to jump back into the cockpit for Top Gun: Maverick. Some 36 years after Tony Scott took flight with the original Top Gun in 1986, the long-awaited sequel is hoping to soar to the top of the box office.

While Tom Cruise and some of the original cast will reprise their roles for Maverick, it's being bulked out by newcomers including Jon Hamm and Jennifer Connelly. In the years since Top Gun took our breath away, a lot has changed.

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From a Mach 5 trajectory to the top of Tinsel Town to those who’ve turned their back on the industry altogether, where are the cast of Top Gun now?

Tom Cruise as Peter “Maverick” Mitchell

Tom Cruise pictured in 1986's Top Gun (L) and at the premiere of Top Gun: Maverick May, 2022. (Paramount/Getty Images)
Tom Cruise pictured in 1986's Top Gun (L) and at the premiere of Top Gun: Maverick May, 2022. (Paramount/Getty Images)

The star of both Top Gun movies needs no introduction, as the name Tom Cruise carries as much of a legacy as Maverick does in the franchise’s canon. Already finding his way in Risky Business, it was Top Gun that catapulted Cruise into the mainstream.

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Following his debut as Maverick, Cruise went on to star in Cocktail, earn Academy Award nominations for Jerry Maguire and Born on the Fourth of July, and immortalise himself in Rain Man.

Watch a trailer for Top Gun: Maverick

His personal life has never been far from the headlines thanks to a high-profile marriage (and divorce) to Katie Holmes, as well as his involvement with Scientology.

These days, Cruise is known for the Mission: Impossible movies which show no signs of slowing down. Maybe just don’t mention his short stint in Universal’s Dark Universe with The Mummy.

Kelly McGillis as Charlotte "Charlie" Blackwood

Kelly McGillis in Top Gun (L) and at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival (R). (Paramount/Getty Images)
Kelly McGillis in Top Gun (L) and at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival (R). (Paramount/Getty Images)

As Maverick’s formidable instructor and love interest, Charlie was Top Gun’s Baby to Dirty Dancing’s Johnny. She was actually based on the real-life Christine Fox, who served as the highest-ranking woman in the United States Department of Defense. While a lot of the movie’s big names went on to continue acting, McGillis appeared in a handful of roles and instead opened up a Florida restaurant with her second husband.

McGillis dabbled with TV during the ‘00s, adding The L Word to her CV in 2008, and coming out as a lesbian in 2009. As for her return to Top Gun, McGillis has been critical of Maverick, telling ET she was never asked to reprise her role.

The star told the site, “I'm old, and I'm fat, and I look age-appropriate for what my age is. And that is not what that whole scene is about."

Anthony Edwards as Nick "Goose" Bradshaw

Anthony Edwards in Top Gun (L) and at The Hudson Theater, March 2022. (Paramount/WireImage/Getty)
Anthony Edwards in Top Gun (L) and at The Hudson Theater, March 2022. (Paramount/WireImage/Getty)

Flying high as Maverick’s BBF, Anthony Edwards’ Goose played second fiddle to Cruise and brought the actor widespread critical acclaim. In 1994, he joined the first season of ER and was a mainstay of the medical drama until 2002. During his tenure as Dr Mark Greene, Edwards became one of the highest-paid stars of television.

There must be something about playing doomed characters, with Greene being the only member of the original cast to be killed off, dying of a brain tumour in season 8. These days, Edwards is known for his roles in Designated Survivor and an upcoming turn as the lead in AMC’s Tales of the Walking Dead spin-off.

Val Kilmer as Tom “Iceman” Kazansky

Val Kilmer pictured in Top Gun (L) and at the 2019 annual Thespians Go Hollywood Gala at Avalon Hollywood (R). (Paramount/Getty)
Val Kilmer pictured in Top Gun (L) and at the 2019 annual Thespians Go Hollywood Gala at Avalon Hollywood (R). (Paramount/Getty)

Much like Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed, the frosty relationship between Maverick and Tom "Iceman" Kazansky thawed by the end of Top Gun. Post-Top Gun, Val Kilmer was one of the ‘90s biggest names, even starring alongside Marlon Brando in The Island of Dr. Moreau’s panned adaptation. Of course, many know him as the man who took over from Michael Keaton to play Bruce Wayne and his vigilante alter ego in Batman Forever.

Shying away from the limelight, Kilmer confirmed he’s had a personal battle with throat cancer and is slowly regaining his speech. His usually private life was then documented in the self-shot 2021 documentary called Val.

Although the trailers for Maverick might make it seem like Iceman is only peripheral to the events of the movie, we know Kilmer will reprise his role in some capacity.

Meg Ryan as Carole Bradshaw

Meg Ryan in Top Gun (L) and at the amfAR Gala Los Angeles, 2021. (Paramount/AFP via Getty Images)
Meg Ryan in Top Gun (L) and at the amfAR Gala Los Angeles, 2021. (Paramount/AFP via Getty Images)

Although Meg Ryan’s role as the widowed Carole Bradshaw wasn’t Top Gun’s most prominent, it undoubtedly put her on the path to stardom. When Top Gun rolled around, Ryan was still three years out from THAT iconic scene in When Harry Met Sally. She’d go on to be Hollywood’s golden girl of rom-coms.

It could’ve been a very different story, as Ryan turned down the role of Clarice Starling in Silence of the Lambs before it was offered to Jodie Foster. Aside from reuniting with Top Gun co-stars like Kilmer and Tim Robbins in The Doors and I.Q., Ryan has starred in everything from Sleepless in Seattle to You’ve Got Mail. She divorced long-term husband Dennis Quaid in 2001, and these days focuses on producing.

Ryan is due to make her romcom return starring in and directing in What Happens Later, alongside X-Files star David Duchovny. It's her first acting role in seven years.

Tim Robbins as Sam "Merlin" Wells

Tim Robbins in Top Gun (LR) and on Jimmy Kimmel Live in 2020 (Paramount/ABC via Getty Images)
Tim Robbins in Top Gun (LR) and on Jimmy Kimmel Live in 2020 (Paramount/ABC via Getty Images)

When he’d finished his training as Radar Intercept Officer Merlin in Top Gun, Tim Robbins got his big break in Bull Durham when starring alongside Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon. He was married to Sarandon for 21 years, and the pair have two sons together.

Forgetting praise for directing Dead Man Walking, Robbins famously played Andy Dufresne in Frank Darabont’s lauded The Shawshank Redemption. He also earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor in Mystic River, secured an uncredited cameo in Anchorman, and returned to the world of Stephen King as Reginald “Pop” Merrill for the second season of Hulu’s Castle Rock.

Tom Skerritt as Mike "Viper" Metcalf

Tom Skerritt in Top Gun (L) and at the Seattle International Film Festival April, 2022. (Paramount/Getty)
Tom Skerritt in Top Gun (L) and at the Seattle International Film Festival April, 2022. (Paramount/Getty)

Proving this viper has fangs, Tom Skerrit played the no-nonsense commanding officer of the Top Gun academy, who had no time for Maverick’s shenanigans. In real life, Skerrit actually served in the United States Air Force for a four-year tour of duty.

Skerrit had already been acting for decades before Top Gun, with his previous appearances including Duke Forrest in M*A*S*H and Captain Dallas in Alien. He’s also remembered for over 200 television episode appearances, encompassing everything from playing Evan Drake in Cheers to the deceased William Walker in Brothers and Sisters. Skerrit is still acting to this day.

Top Gun: Maverick flies in to cinemas, IMAX and 4DX exclusively on 25 May, 2022. The original Top Gun is available to stream on NOW with a Sky Cinema Membership.

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