See the Cast of ‘Top Gun’ Then and Now
Released in 1986, Tony Scott‘s ‘Top Gun‘ starred Tom Cruise as a young pilot nicknamed Maverick who, along with his pal Goose (Anthony Edwards), gets the chance to train at the Navy’s prestigious Fighter Weapons School at Miramar in San Diego, also known as “Top Gun.” The action-packed film was a rousing success, thanks in part to Cruise’s charisma and rapidly increasing star power, assisted by co-stars like Val Kilmer and Kelly McGillis and a hit soundtrack. Twenty-eight years later, we revisit the cast of this ’80s classic and see what they’re up to now.
Tom Cruise, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell
Then: Tom Cruise played Pete Mitchell, aka Maverick, a reckless and daring Naval aviator who gets sent, alongside his intercept officer, to the Top Gun program for further training. At the time, Cruise was best known for films like ‘The Outsiders’ and ‘Risky Business.’ Following ‘Top Gun,’ Cruise secured his mega-star status with roles in ‘The Color of Money,’ ‘Cocktail,’ ‘Rain Man’ and ‘Born on the Fourth of July.’
Now: The ’90s made Tom Cruise a blockbuster star, and after starring in the films ‘Days of Thunder’ and ‘Far and Away’ with then-wife Nicole Kidman, he appeared in movies like ‘Interview with the Vampire,’ ‘Jerry Maguire’ and ‘Mission: Impossible.’ He reunited with Kidman for ‘Eyes Wide Shut,’ and appeared in darker dramas like ‘Magnolia’ and ‘Vanilla Sky.’ The aughts saw him headlining big action and sci-fi flicks like ‘War of the Worlds,’ ‘Minority Report,’ and ‘Valkyrie.’ More recently, he starred in ‘Rock of Ages,’ ‘Jack Reacher’ and ‘Oblivion.’ Up next, he can be seen in the sci-fi movie ‘Edge of Tomorrow,’ and he’ll reprise his roles of Ethan Hunt and Jack Reacher for a fourth ‘Mission: Impossible’ film and ‘Jack Reacher 2.’
Kelly McGillis, Charlotte “Charlie” Blackwood
Then: Kelly McGillis played Charlie Blackwood, a Top Gun instructor and civilian contractor with a PhD in astrophysics — she’s also Maverick’s love interest. At the time, McGillis only had a couple of film credits to her name, including ‘Witness.’
Now: The actress went on to appear in ‘The Accused,’ ‘The Babe’ and ‘North’ and reunited with ‘Top Gun’ co-star Val Kilmer in 1999 for ‘At First Sight.’ McGillis didn’t work much in the early aughts, but returned in 2010, appearing in horror films like ‘Stake Land,’ ‘The Innkeepers’ and more recently, ‘We Are What We Are.’ She appears next in the TV movie ‘Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio,’ based on the novel of the same name.
Val Kilmer, Tom “Iceman” Kazansky
Then: Val Kilmer played Lieutenant Tom Kazansky, aka Iceman, the top student at Top Gun and Maverick’s rival, who looks down upon the new arrival’s reckless flying style. Kilmer was best known for roles in ‘Real Genius’ and ‘Top Secret!’
Now: Kilmer went on to star in ‘Willow,’ played legendary rocker Jim Morrison in ‘The Doors,’ and suited up as Batman in ‘Batman Forever.’ He also appeared in films like ‘Heat,’ ‘The Ghost and the Darkness’ and ‘The Saint.’ The aughts brought more interesting roles to Kilmer: a drug addict in the indie ‘The Salton Sea,’ washed-up porn star John Holmes in the crime drama ‘Wonderland,’ and a darkly hilarious partnering with Robert Downey Jr. in ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.’ In recent years, he appeared in ‘MacGruber’ and ‘Twixt,’ and starred on the IFC miniseries ‘The Spoils of Babylon,’ produced by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. Up next, you can see him in the indie ‘Palo Alto’ alongside his son, Jack, who makes his acting debut.
Anthony Edwards, Nick “Goose” Bradshaw
Then: Anthony Edwards, then best known for his role in ‘Revenge of the Nerds,’ played Nick “Goose” Bradshaw, Maverick’s radar intercept officer, who also attends the Top Gun program and is more cautious than Maverick.
Now: Edwards went on to appear in films like ‘Mr. North,’ ‘Pet Sematary Two’ and ‘The Client,’ but is best known to audiences for playing Dr. Mark Greene on the long-running medical drama series ‘ER.’ Edwards starred on the show from 1994 to 2002, and since then has shown up in films like ‘Zodiac’ and ‘Big Sur.’ He also starred on the short-lived series ‘Zero Hour’ in 2013. He recently returned to the world of flying, lending his voice to Disney’s animated film ‘Planes.’
Tom Skerritt, Mike “Viper” Metcalf
Then: Tom Skerritt played Commander Mike Metcalf, aka Viper, Maverick’s chief instructor at Top Gun. Skerritt was best known for his roles in films like ‘Alien’ and ‘Ice Castles.’
Now: Skerritt has since appeared in films like ‘Steel Magnolias,’ ‘Poison Ivy,’ ‘A River Runs Through It,’ ‘Contact’ and ‘The Other Sister.’ He also starred on David E. Kelley’s drama series ‘Picket Fences,’ which ran from 1992 to 1996, and later had a recurring role on ‘Brothers and Sisters.’ In recent years, he appeared in ‘Beer for My Horses’ and as himself in ‘Ted.’ He also guest starred on shows like ‘Leverage,’ ‘The Closer’ and ‘White Collar.’
Michael Ironside, Rick “Jester” Heatherly
Then: Michael Ironside, star of ‘Scanners,’ played Lieutenant Commander Rick “Jester” Heatherly, one of Maverick’s instructors at Top Gun, who is both impressed and annoyed with his student’s recklessness.
Now: Ironside went on to appear in the Paul Verhoeven films ‘Total Recall’ and ‘Starship Troopers,’ as well as movies like ‘The Machinist,’ ‘Terminator Salvation’ and ‘X-Men: First Class’ (pictured above right). He lent his voice to several animated shows, including ‘Superman: The Animated Series,’ ‘Justice League’ and ‘Justice League Unlimited.’ In recent years, he guest starred on ‘Smallville,’ ‘Justified’ and ‘Community.’
John Stockwell, Bill “Cougar” Cortell
Then: John Stockwell played Bill Cortell, aka Cougar, Maverick’s wingman from the beginning of the film, who turns in his wings after a particularly harrowing run with Maverick. You might have previously seen Stockwell in films like ‘Christine’ and ‘Losin’ It.’
Now: Stockwell went on to appear in ‘Nixon’ before he decided to take his talents behind the camera, as well. He both directed and appeared in the films ‘Crazy/Beautiful,’ ‘Blue Crush,’ ‘Into the Blue’ and ‘Turistas.’ More recently, Stockwell starred in the movies ‘Breaking the Girls’ and ‘Seal Team 6: The Raid on Osama Bin Laden,’ and he directed the Gina Carano film ‘In the Blood.’
Tim Robbins, Sam “Merlin” Wells
Then: Tim Robbins had a supporting role as Sam “Merlin” Wells, one of Maverick’s fellow students and pilots at Top Gun. That same year, he also appeared in the ridiculous comic book movie ‘Howard the Duck.’
Now: Robbins went on to star in ‘Bull Durham,’ ‘The Shawshank Redemption,’ ‘The Hudsucker Proxy,’ ‘Dead Man Walking,’ ‘Arlington Road,’ ‘High Fidelity’ and ‘Mystic River.’ He reunited with Tom Cruise in 2005 for Steven Spielberg’s ‘War of the Worlds,’ and appeared in ‘Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny’ and ‘Green Lantern.’ More recently, he re-teamed with Val Kilmer for the IFC miniseries ‘The Spoils of Babylon,’ and starred in the dramedy ‘Thanks for Sharing.’ Up next, he can be seen with Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell in ‘Welcome to Me.’
Meg Ryan, Carole Bradshaw
Then: A then little-known actress by the name of Meg Ryan played Carole Bradshaw, Goose’s wife and the mother of his child. At the time, Ryan’s only film credits were roles in ‘Rich and Famous’ and ‘Amityville 3-D.’
Now: Ryan went on to become one of America’s sweethearts with roles in ‘When Harry Met Sally’ and with Tom Hanks in both ‘Joe Versus the Volcano’ and ‘Sleepless in Seattle.’ She reunited with Val Kilmer for ‘The Doors’ and with Tim Robbins for ‘I.Q.,’ and starred in ‘Prelude to a Kiss,’ ‘When a Man Loves a Woman,’ ‘French Kiss,’ ‘Addicted to Love’ and ‘City of Angels.’ In 1998, she completed her unofficial Tom Hanks rom-com trilogy with ‘You’ve Got Mail,’ and since then has starred in ‘Hanging Up,’ ‘Kate and Leopold,’ ‘In the Land of Women’ and ‘The Women.’ It was recently announced that Ryan will be the narrator and the future voice of Greta Gerwig’s character on the upcoming series ‘How I Met Your Dad.’