Tom Cruise stuck his neck out for his co-star.
Back in 1986, the Hollywood icon starred as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in “Top Gun” alongside Val Kilmer, who played his rival, Tom “Iceman” Kazansky. The two played students at an elite Naval aviation school.
Both actors reprise their roles for the upcoming sequel, “Top Gun: Maverick” – thanks in part to Cruise’s insisting to producer Jerry Bruckheimer that Kilmer, now 61, return.
“He said, ‘We have to have Val, we have to have him back. We have to have him in the film,'” the producer told People magazine. “And he was the driving force. 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.”
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Bruckheimer seemed happy to have had Kilmer back on set as well.
“He’s such a fine actor, and he’s such a good individual,” the producer gushed over Kilmer. “We had such a good time on the first one and wanted to bring some of the gang back together again.”
Getting the castmates back together was “a really emotional experience” for many people, Bruckheimer said.
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“It was a long time getting there, but we did,” he said.
In his recent memoir, Kilmer addressed past rumors that Cruise, now 59, was developing a “Top Gun” sequel.
“He was calling it ‘Top Gun: Maverick.’ Well, Tom was Maverick, but Maverick’s nemesis was Iceman. The two went together like salt and pepper,” Kilmer wrote in the book, per People. “It didn’t matter that the producers didn’t contact me. As the Temptations sang in the heyday of Motown soul, ‘ain’t too proud to beg.'”
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After Kilmer was eventually asked to join the sequel, it seems the actor was thrilled.
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“They honor the legacy of Iceman, and he was so stoked by it,” Kilmer’s 26-year-old son Jack told the outlet.