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Val Kilmer Finally Addresses Top Gun Rivalry With Tom Cruise And Where The Two Stand Now

Some movie rivalries were meant to go down in history, and the one at the heart of the ‘80s classic Top Gun was always going to be one of them. Val Kilmer’s Iceman and Tom Cruise’s Maverick are a classic pair of pilots pushing each other to the limits, and encouraging their egos to write checks their bodies can’t cash. Now, Val Kilmer is speaking out about what happened on set and how his relationship with Tom Cruise is years later.

In Amazon Prime Video’s documentary Val, Kilmer talks about the Top Gun experience to a fantastic degree. Through home videos he shot during the production, as well as his personal recollections narrated by his son Jack, the portrait of a fresh young cast engaging in an on-set rivalry is told with great fondness. And part of that came from Val Kilmer’s work developing Lt. Tom "Iceman" Kazansky, which according to his recounting of events, wasn’t that deeply drawn in the original script:

On the page, there was very little to the character Iceman. So I attempted to make him real. I manifested a backstory for him, where he had a father who ignored him, and as a result, was driven by the need to be perfect in every way. This obsession with perfection is what made him so arrogant. I would purposely play up the rivalry between Tom’s character and mine off-screen as well. And what ended up happening is the actors, in true Method fashion, split into two distinct camps. You’d have Maverick and Goose on one side, and Slider, Hollywood, Wolfman, and me, Iceman, on the other. It was fun to play up the conflict between our characters, but in reality, I’ve always thought of Tom as a friend, and we’ve always supported each other.

While some may have thought that the rivalry between Val Kilmer and Tom Cruise was as fiery as seen in their Top Gun back and forth, it was actually more of an acting exercise than anything. Rather than being an actual showdown between the soon to be superstars and their respective factions, Kilmer and Cruise were engaging in something that would take director Tony Scott’s blockbuster into the history books. And eventually, the two would reunite for the upcoming legacy-quel Top Gun: Maverick.

The legacy of Val Kilmer’s Top Gun performance is one that’s just as iconic as Tom Cruise’s, with both actors using the fire on and off the screen to make movie magic. Which only makes the fact that Kilmer initially didn’t want to take part in the film all the more interesting. If it wasn’t for Tony Scott’s vision luring the actor into jumping on board, we might have lost out on this duo and their eventual movie triumph in a franchise that is about to be revitalized.

History was made when Top Gun flew into theaters, and now it’s about to happen again with Top Gun: Maverick. Set to land at the movies on November 19th, we’ll get to learn more about how the years have treated Iceman and Maverick. So don’t forget to mark that date on your calendar, and be sure to check out Val, which is currently streaming on Prime Video.

Mike Reyes

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.