Top Gun Maverick: Val Kilmer ‘didn’t want’ to be in Tom Cruise movie – sabotaged audition

Top Gun: Maverick teased in trailer starring Tom Cruise

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When Top Gun was released in 1986 it was a cinematic revelation. It earned a staggering $357 million at the box office and sent an already incredibly famous Tom Cruise into superstardom. However, Maverick would not have been such a compelling protagonist without his nemesis, Iceman, egging him on during the film. 

But, despite the film’s success, Val Kilmer confessed he never truly wanted to join the franchise in the first place.

Kilmer revealed this shocking piece of information in his 2020 memoir, I’m Your Huckleberry.

Iceman has become one of the most legendary villains of the silver screen throughout the years. But, at first, Kilmer was not on board with the film at all. He wrote: “I didn’t want the part. I didn’t care about the film. The story didn’t interest me.”

But, it wasn’t down to him. He explained he was coaxed into auditioning by his agent, who had a stake in the film’s success.

Kilmer wrote: “My agent, who also represented Tom Cruise, basically tortured me into at least meeting [director] Tony Scott, saying he was one of the hottest directors in town.”

Eventually, he agreed to do the audition. But on the day was due to read his lines, he decided to throw his chance away entirely.

He tried to sabotage the audition by “looking like a fool or the goon”. Kilmer wrote: “I read the lines indifferently, and yet – amazingly – I was told I had the part. I felt more deflated than inflated.”

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Kilmer was still very new to acting at the time. Top Gun was his third feature-length movie, following Top Secret! and Real Genius, so he was likely trying to be very picky about his movies. 

But when he really got his teeth into the role and began working with Cruise on set, he fell in love with both the Iceman character as well as the franchise.

Years later, when he learned a direct sequel to the film was being produced – Top Gun Maverick – he started making some calls to get involved.

Kilmer essentially begged to be a part of Top Gun Maverick. “I’d not only contacted the producers but created heartrending scenes with Iceman,” he recently revealed. “The producers went for it. Cruise went for it. Cruise couldn’t have been cooler.”

He described his return as Iceman as “being reunited with a long lost friend”. 

But, after being diagnosed with throat cancer in 2015, he was met with another hurdle. Kilmer underwent chemotherapy and had two tracheotomies, rendering him unable to speak at all, and forcing him to eat with a feeding tube.

Kilmer’s role as Iceman has been revived with the help of AI technology using archival audio to bring his voice back. This way, the star is making a return to the character almost 40 years after the original movie. And the director of the picture, Joseph Kosinski, is ecstatic to bring him back.

He recently said: “The rivalry between Iceman and Maverick was such a memorable part of the first movie. I’m glad we’ll be able to show the evolution of that relationship.”

Top Gun Maverick hits cinemas on May 27.


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