There’s no “Top Gun” without Val Kilmer.
The film’s star, Tom Cruise, was “adamant” on having his old co-star appear as Adm. Tom “Iceman” Kazansky in the sequel, “Top Gun: Maverick.”
Producer Jerry Bruckheimer explained to People that Cruise, 59, “really wanted” Kilmer to be part of the action film despite his health struggles. Kilmer, 61, was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2017 and underwent radiation and chemotherapy.
The “Alexander” star portrayed Iceman in the original 1986 film. He played the enemy of Cruise’s Lt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. Both actors will reprise their iconic roles in “Top Gun: Maverick” — due for a Nov. 19 cinematic release.
“[Cruise] said, ‘We have to have Val, we have to have him back. We have to have him in the film,’” Bruckheimer said. “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.”
The film producer added, “[Kilmer is] such a fine actor, and he’s such a good individual. We had such a good time on the first one and wanted to bring some of the gang back together again.”
According to Bruckheimer, the “Top Gun” reunion was “very emotional” for Kilmer and Cruise. “It was a really emotional experience for all of us,” he revealed. “It was a long time getting there, but we did.”
In Kilmer’s 2020 memoir, titled “I’m Your Huckleberry,” he wrote about his thoughts on Cruise making a sequel 35 years on.
“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,” he scribed. “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.’”