Don't Lose That Loving Feeling: See the Stars of Top Gun Then and Now

To tide you over until Top Gun: Maverick lands in theaters, let's catch up with what the very much alive Goose and all the other stars from the 1986 classic in honor of Top Gun Day.

By Natalie Finn May 13, 2021 7:00 AMTags
Watch: Tom Cruise Sums Up "Top Gun 2's" Premise How?!

Even if you're only just inching your way out of the house, you can still indulge your need for speed.

Tom Cruise's relentless youthfulness notwithstanding, it's been 35 years since Top Gun opened in theaters and took up residence in the cultural lexicon with its sleek fighter jets, iconic call signs, perfect soundtrack, shirtless volleyball, bar-room serenade and endlessly quotable dialogue. And the creature comforts that the delicious morsel of a buddy-action-military drama that it always provides upon rewatching are not to be discounted.

Top Gun: Maverick—the years-in-development sequel to the 1986 blockbuster, which made $354 million worldwide, put director Tony Scott on the map, and inspired countless future fighter pilots—was supposed to land in theaters last summer. And then at Christmas time. And now it's going to miss its re-re-scheduled July 2 arrival as well.

But after what will be a 17-month delay due to the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent business decisions, is now due to touch down in wide release Nov. 19. Count this one among the hotly anticipated releases that will benefit from a big-screen experience, so Paramount just wanted to be more calm, calculated Iceman than risk-happy Maverick when it came to the mission ahead.

Guess what is in theaters, though.

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Tom Cruise's Best Roles

That's right, it's Top Gun, in 150 Dolby Cinemas at AMC theaters across the U.S. for a week-long engagement starting May 13. Which is now Top Gun Day.

Moreover, there's a new release of the movie available for digital and Blu-ray purchase featuring four hours of bonus content, including interviews with Cruise and producer Jerry Bruckheimer.

So, while you prepare for takeoff, it's time to see what the crew of the USS Enterprise and their nearest and dearest are up to now:

Tom Cruise

U.S. Naval Aviator Lt. Pete Mitchell—aka Maverick—is returning to duty (at least he's Capt. Mitchell now) in the 2021 Top Gun sequel. He may be the oldest guy in the squad, but he's looking none the worse for wear after three Oscar nominations (for Born on the Fourth of JulyJerry Maguire and Magnolia), three recently returned Golden Globe statues (his wins for those three movies), six Mission: Impossible films (with at least two more in the works); many, many other films; and the achievement of iconic movie star status.

The father of Connor, Isabella and Suri Cruise has also tirelessly powered through three divorces, from Mimi Rogers in 1990, Nicole Kidman in 2000 and Katie Holmes in 2012.

Kelly McGillis

Astrophysicist and civilian TOPGUN instructor Charlie Blackwood took Maverick's breath away and theirs was a love story for the ages...or at least the 1980s, since McGillis says she was not asked to be in the sequel. And she almost didn't make it into the first film, either!

"I didn't want to do it—there," she recalled to The Guardian in 2001. "But because I'd done Witness, I owed Paramount another film, and my agent said, 'You have to do this.' I took one look at it and said, 'This is like a Western in the sky—I don't wanna do this.' It wasn't about acting, it was about being a cartoon character. You know what I mean? I could have done it blindfolded. I was grateful for the fact that it gave me opportunities I wouldn't otherwise have had. But I showed up for work, did my bit, hung out with a bunch of boys, played baseball, and went home. It was like being at camp. Why they hired me I'll never know."

McGillis next played a prosecutor seeking justice for a rape victim played by Jodie Foster in The Accused. She kept acting in the likes of The BabeNorth and many smaller films and TV movies, but she also opened a restaurant in Florida with her yacht mogul second husband, Fred Tillman, in the 1990s and put acting on the back burner.

She has two daughters with Tillman, whom she divorced in 2002. She came out as gay in 2009 and had a civil union ceremony with Melanie Leis in 2010, but they broke up the following year.

"I think just my priorities in life changed," McGillis told Entertainment Tonight in 2019 from home in North Carolina. "It wasn't like a major decision that I made to leave [acting], it was just that other things became more important. I love acting, I love what I do, I love doing theater, but I don't know. To me, my relationships to other people became far more important than my relationship to fame."

She continued, "I am a home person. I'm really rooted in my home life...I can't remember the last time I worked. I feel really blessed that I don't have to work, you know? But I get the option to work, so I'm really blessed in that way. Not many people get that option later in life, so I feel very lucky."

Val Kilmer

The Top Secret! and Real Genius star was as cool as they come as Maverick's nemesis turned fellow hero in combat Lt. Tom "Iceman" Kazansky.

Kilmer preceded to have one of the premiere acting careers of the 1990s, starring in WillowThe DoorsTrue Romance, TombstoneBatman ForeverHeatThe Island of Dr. Moreau (at least he got to work with Marlon Brando), The Ghost and the DarknessThe Saint and The Prince of Egypt (as the voice of Moses and God).

He worked just as hard in the 2000s, with his most memorable films being The Salton SeaWonderlandAlexanderKiss Kiss Bang Bang and Déjà Vu.

Rumors about the state of his health abounded in recent years, and Kilmer at times added to the confusion, but in 2020 he confirmed that he did survive a battle with throat cancer. "You may notice I sound like I have a frog in my throat. It's not. It's a buffalo," he wrote online ahead of an appearance that April on Good Morning America, his first TV interview in 10 years. "Though being healed from cancer, I am slowly and surely regaining my speech. As I haven't let the adversity stifle my voice as an artist."

Nor did it stifle Jerry Bruckheimer's vision, as the Top Gun: Maverick producer confirmed in 2020 that the Iceman had cometh for the sequel. Other movies in the pipeline include The Birthday CakeRiptide and Mark Twain and Mary Baker Eddy, which would mark his third turn as the prolific writer and humorist, including his one-man stage show Citizen Twain.

Kilmer has two children, daughter Mercedes and son Jack, with ex-wife Joanne Whalley.

Anthony Edwards

Goooooooose! The Revenge of the Nerds star was known primarily as Maverick's doomed wingman, Officer Nick "Goose" Bradshaw, for a good eight years before he landed a starring role as Dr. Mark Greene on ER. Over his eight-year run on the show before his tearjerker of a farewell, he won a Golden Globe and was nominated for four Emmys. 

He won an Emmy in 2010 as an executive producer of that year's Best TV Movie, Temple Grandin.

Edwards' acting work on the big and small screens over the years has included The ClientNorthforkZodiac, Showtime's BillionsLaw & Order: True Crime and Designated Survivor. He told Fox News 

He has four children with ex-wife Jeanine Lobell, the founder of Stila Cosmetics, whom he was married to from 1994 until 2015. Edwards is now in a relationship with Emmy winner Mare Winningham, who also has four kids.

"Morning coffee, get up on news and get out and do something I'm fortunate to do," Edwards told Fox News in April 2020, giving a glimpse of his pared-down pandemic schedule. "I'm fortunate to be able to work on my garden and there are these kinds of chores that you've put off for years."

Meg Ryan

After her key supporting role as Goose's wife, Carole, Ryan's career took off. After turns as a solid wingwoman in Innerspace and D.O.A. (both with future husband Dennis Quaid, whom she married in 1991), she starred in When Harry Met Sally... and the title of America's Sweetheart soon followed.

She had classic turns with Tom Hanks in Joe vs. the Volcano (playing three characters), Sleepless in SeattleYou've Got Mail and other adorable rom-com rolls in French Kiss and I.Q. (with Top Gun's Tim Robbins). Ryan also did heavy drama, playing Jim Morrison's long-suffering partner Pamela Courson in The Doors (opposite Kilmer as the volatile rocker), an alcoholic wife and mom in When a Man Loves a Woman, an Army captain whose death is posthumously investigated in Courage Under Fire, and a wife trying to get her husband back from a kidnapper when she falls in love with the rescuer, played by Russell Crowe.

Ryan and Quaid divorced in 2001. They're parents of son Jack and Ryan adopted daughter Daisy in 2004. Ryan then dated John Mellencamp off and on for years before they split up for good in 2019. 

Her work in the 2000s includes In the CutAgainst the RopesIn the Land of WomenThe Women and the 2016 Ithaca, which reunited her with Hanks.

"Now I'm focused on producing," Ryan told InStyle in the summer of 2019. "I'm also teeing myself up to direct, and I'm working on a fun e-commerce project with some of my friends. But most of all, what I'm ambitious for in the 12 hours a day that I'm awake is my kids' happiness. I just am."

Tim Robbins

After getting his start on TV shows like St. ElsewhereThe Love Boat and Hill Street Blues, Robbins made his film debut in the teens vs. terrorists action movie Toy Soldiers and carpooled with John Cusack in The Sure Thing before landing the role of Lt. Sam "Merlin" Wells. 

He was in Howard the Duck but then his career took off after he plays an eager minor league pitcher vying with Kevin Costner for Susan Sarandon's heart in Bull Durham. He got the girl in real life, and he and Sarandon were together for 21 years and had two sons, Jack and Miles, before amicably splitting up in 2009. He also directed Sarandon in her Oscar-winning turn in 1995's Dead Man Walking and was also behind the camera for Bob Roberts and Cradle Will Rock.

Throughout, Robbins has remained politically active, he founded the Actors' Gang Theater Group, and he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 2004 for Mystic River. A further sampling of his screen highlights includes Jacob's LadderThe PlayerThe Hudsucker Proxy, The Shawshank RedemptionArlington Road, cameos in Zoolander and on Portlandia, HBO's The BrinkDark Waters and Hulu's Castle Rock.

Adrian Pasdar

Fresh-faced Lt. Charles "Chipper" Piper marked the movie debut of the future star of HeroesColonyPolitical AnimalsAgents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and much more. And if you haven't been seeing Pasdar, you've been hearing him as the voice of Tony Stark/Iron Man in his own animated series and assorted other Marvel shows, including Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.Ultimate Spider-Man and Avengers Assemble.

In the flesh he's also been in Lethal WeaponGrand Hotel and Supergirl. Pasdar has a son, Jackson, with ex-wife Natalie Maines. He and the Dixie Chicks singer married in 2000 and she filed for divorce in 2017; the split was settled in 2019.

Michael Ironside

His name alone is tough. And sure enough, Lt. Cmdr Rick "Jester" Heatherly, Maverick's flight instructor, has a gaze of steel.

Ironside is a prolific character actor who, since Top Gun, has showed up in movies such as (to name a few) Total RecallStarship TroopersThe Next Karate KidThe Perfect StormThe MachinistTerminator: Salvation, and X-Men: First Class, as well as on TV in Walker, Texas Ranger, ERCold CaseCastleSmallvilleCommunityVegasThe Flash, JustifiedThe AlienistHawaii 5-0... and the list goes on.

He's been married to his second wife, Karen Dinwiddie, since 1986 and has one child with her and another from his previous marriage.

Tom Skerritt

You may know him as Julia Roberts' dad in Steel Magnolias (or Sara Gilbert's dad in Poison Ivy—lots of father roles and foliage), but first he was Cmdr. Mike "Viper" Metcalf, the voice of reason who helps Maverick, racked with guilt over Goose's death, recover his confidence.

Born in 1933, Skerritt has been acting since the 1960s and had previously starred in the likes of MASH and Alien, so just add Viper to his list of classic roles. He remained a go-to guy for law enforcement, military men and politicians, whether it was his cameo as the mayor of Seattle in Singles, playing Sheriff Brock on Picket Fences (for which he won an Emmy for Lead Actor in a Drama in 1993), having a turn as Sen. Carrick on The West Wing, his arc as a CIA agent on The Grid or showing up as a bureaucratic scientist in Contact. He had a recurring role as the deceased but often-referred-to Walker family patriarch on Brothers & Sisters and more recently was on The Good Wife and Madam Secretary. Coming up he plays a terminally ill retired heart surgeon who returns to his hometown in a feature adaptation of David Guterson's novel East of the Mountains.

The list isn't all that long, but it's distinguished.

(Originally published May 16, 2020, at 7 a.m. PT)