To this day, Top Gun is still considered a staple of ‘80s cinema and one of Tom Cruise’s signature flicks. However, Cruise’s Pete “Maverick” Mitchell isn’t the only notable aspect of the film. It also introduced memorable characters like Nick “Goose” Bradshaw and Tom "Iceman" Kazansky, who was played by Val Kilmer. Kilmer will be reprising his role as Maverick’s rival-turned-comrade in the upcoming sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, but there was actually a time when the actor didn’t even want to star in the original:
I didn’t want the part. I didn’t care about the film. The story didn’t interest me. My agent, who also represented Tom Cruise, basically tortured me into at least meeting Tony Scott, saying he was one of the hottest directors in town and I could never afford to not meet with as many of them as possible, and also he was completely obsessed with me. Well, an agent doesn’t have to offer any other reasons when ‘the director is completely obsessed with you’ comes out of their mouth. I showed up at the audition because that’s what actors do when they’re asked to audition. I showed up looking the fool, or the goon. I wore oversize gonky Australian shorts in nausea green. I read the lines indifferently. And yet, amazingly, I was told I had the part. I felt more deflated than inflated. I had to get out of there.
Shared exclusively with The Daily Beast, this revelation comes from a passage in Val Kilmer’s new memoir, I’m Your Huckleberry. In the book, Kilmer not only details his audition but also describes his experiences while making the movie.
At that point in his career, Val Kilmer had only two film credits under his belt. So one has to wonder why he was so hesitant to audition for the part. Many young actors would’ve viewed a role in a project of Top Gun’s scale as an opportunity to get some serious exposure. Pair this with the fact that Tony Scott wanted to work with him, and it seems like a no-brainer.
Still, having only done two comedies, Kilmer may not have felt he was ready to make the leap to a true blockbuster. And at the time, Top Gun was considered to be very ambitious due to its extensive use of technology and practical effects. In the end though, movie fans are surely grateful that Kilmer ultimately opted in, as it’s honestly hard to see anyone else playing the arrogant Iceman.
Kilmer has definitely changed his tune on the iconic role in recent years. When Top Gun: Maverick was first announced, he began lobbying to be a part of it and would eventually get his wish.
The producers have been keeping Iceman’s exact role in the sequel a secret, as the character has yet to be shown in any of the trailers. Director Joseph Kosinski has explained that he wants the evolution of Maverick and Iceman’s relationship to be a surprise. So this could mean there’s plenty in store for Kilmer’s famous character when he returns to the big screen.
Top Gun: Maverick is now set to be released in theaters on December 23.