What the Characters From Top Gun Look Like 36 Years After This 80’s Hit Was Released
In 1986, Paramount Pictures released one of the most emblematic films of that decade: Top Gun. The film told the story of the rebel aviator Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. As you know, it became an instant classic thanks to its revolutionary aerial acrobatics and the charismatic cast. This was the movie that launched Tom Cruise to worldwide fame, and others too.
This may come as a surprise to you, but the movie is 36 years old now! Now that a sequel is soon to be released, we wondered what has become of the cast of this classic, so Bright Side prepared this article for you to know.
1. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell — Tom Cruise
There’s no doubt about the fact that Cruise made a name for himself in Hollywood after the release of Top Gun. Back then he had only been in the industry for four years but was already known for appearing in 1983’s Risky Business. Top Gun, however, guaranteed his rise to worldwide fame.
Since then, and at 59 years of age, Cruise has appeared in more than 40 films and is about to star in three more: two new installments of his successful Mission: Impossible saga and, of course, the long-awaited sequel to Top Gun, Top Gun: Maverick.
2. Nick “Goose” Bradshaw — Anthony Edwards
After playing Maverick’s best friend in Top Gun, Anthony Edwards continued his acting career without much success. His filmography includes the 2007 film Zodiac, where he played Inspector William Armstrong. In 2013, he lent his voice to the character Echo for the animated film Planes.
Edwards, 59, has also confirmed he’ll appear in Top Gun’s sequel. It’ll be the first time we’ll see him since 2015, when he landed a role in Consumed.
3. Charlotte “Charlie” Blackwood — Kelly McGillis
She was Maverick’s girl, but you’ll hardly hear from her after Top Gun. McGillis had only one other prominent role in the 1988 film The Accused. Then, in the next decades, she appeared in only five films, the most recent being 2011’s The Innkeepers.
Since 2013, Kelly has been an acting teacher at the New York Studio for Stage and Screen NYS3 in North Carolina.
4. Tom “Iceman” Kazansky — Val Kilmer
Being Maverick’s rival was key to Val Kilmer becoming the respected performer he is today. Jim Morrison, Batman, Mark Twain and Elvis Presley are some of the names of the characters Kilmer has played in his long career.
In recent years, Kilmer’s projects became somewhat smaller. He often released them directly in home formats, but in 2021 he did appear The Birthday Cake with Ewan McGregor, and has also confirmed he’ll come back as Iceman for Top Gun: Maverick.
5. Mike “Viper” Metcalf — Tom Skerritt
It was no coincidence that the production of Top Gun chose Skerritt to be the Viper commander, because of all the cast, he was the only one who was actually part of the U.S. Air Force during his youth in the 1950s. Skerrit is also one of the actors from this list that has the longest filmography.
He began his acting career in 1962 in the film War Hunt, and in 2021, at 88 years of age, he starred in the films East of the Mountains and Catch the Bullet. Among his almost 70 films, his appearances in Alien, Ted, Dead Zone and, of course, Top Gun stand out.
6. Carol Bradshaw — Meg Ryan
Goose’s wife was played by Meg Ryan, who, during the 90s and early 2000s, became one of the best paid actresses in Hollywood. Roles in productions such as When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got an E-mail and the biopic of the band The Doors, in which she again shared the stage with Val Kilmer, brought her to stardom.
By 2016, Ryan made her directorial debut in the film Ithaca, where she also appeared for the last time. In 2019, Ryan revealed that she was no longer interested in acting and ended her acting career.
7. Rick “Jester” Heatherly — Michael Ironside
Frederick Reginald Ironside, better known as Michael Ironside, played the flight instructor that Maverick and Goose defeat in their first training jump at the naval school known as Top Gun. Although his character is not that popular, he is an important part of Ironside’s long filmography.
Total Recall, Invasion, The Machinist and X-Men: First Generation are some of his most popular films. His most recent screen appearance was in the acclaimed series The Dropout in 2021.
8. Bill “Cougar” Cortell — John Stockwell
Cougar appears in the first minutes of the film, only to disappear after a nervous breakdown in flight, which led him to retire and devote himself entirely to his family. The actor playing the character, John Stockwell, is still an active member of the film industry, but not as an actor.
Since 2001, Stockwell has worked as a director and writer for several films such as Rockstar, Into The Blue and The Hunted. His most recent project was the 2017 film Armed Response, starring Wesley Snipes.
9. Sam “Merlin” Wells — Tim Robbins
The radar officer, who replaces Goose as Maverick’s partner in the last act of the film, went a little unnoticed, but the actor, Tim Robbins, has become a very important figure in the Hollywood industry.
Robbins played Andy Dufresne in the acclaimed 1994 film The Shawshank Redemption. Ten years later, he would win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Mystic River. Robbins has also worked as a director in several films, such as Bob Roberts and I Still Believe; the latter earned him a nomination for Best Director at the 1996 Academy Awards. His most recent project was 2019 series Castle Rock.
10. Ron “Slider” Kerner — Rick Rossovich
Iceman’s radar intercept officer was played by Rick Rossovich, who stopped acting in the early 2000s. He had a brief comeback in 2012 with the independent film Sandbar, but to this day, he continues as a stay-at-home dad in Sweden.
11. Leonard “Wolfman” Wolfe — Barry Tubb
The actor, who plays a radar intercept officer during the last mission, had a broad but not very popular career in Hollywood. After Top Gun, Barry Tubb appeared in some TV series, and in 1997, he debuted as a director and screenwriter in the film It Stains the Sand Red.
Deliverance Creek in 2014 was the last film in which Tubb participated as an actor; since then, “Wolfman” has been away from the spotlight.
12. Tom “Stinger” Jordan — James Tolkan
Stinger is the one who sends Maverick and Goose to Top Gun. Tolkan is also well remembered for being director Geral Strickland in the Back to the Future saga. Love and Death from 1975 and Dick Tracy from 1990 are some of his other most memorable roles.
In his 90s, James continues to work, and in 2021, he was part of a special program dedicated to Back to the Future.
13. Marcus “Sundown” Williams — Clarence Gilyard Jr.
After loosing Goose, Sundown becomes Maverick’s radar intercept officer, but the latter is still too distraught to continue flying. Gilyard’s participation in this film was brief, as it was his Hollywood debut, but with time, new opportunities would come for the rookie.
That same year he would be part of Karate Kid: Part II, Die Hard and the first two installments of Forgotten were some of his most outstanding roles. Gilyard appeared in some TV series and films, the most recent being Christmas on the Coast in 2018.
How old were you when this film was released? And how have the actors changed during these years, according to you? Share your opinion in the comments.