Just like their Top Gun characters, Val Kilmer and Tom Cruise had a little bit of a rivalry behind the scenes.
In an excerpt obtained by Closer Weekly, the Tombstone star said he and Tom fell into different circles on set. “We were the party boys,” he explained. “Every night we’d hit the San Diego nightlife.”
However, “Tom refrained from our revelry for good reason,” Val added. “From day one, [Tom] was laser-focused on a singular goal: to become the greatest action hero in the history of film. He was up nights learning lines, he spent every waking hour perfecting his stunts. His dedication was admirable.”
When asked to audition for Top Gun, Kilmer writes: “I didn’t want the part. I didn’t care about the film. The story didn’t interest me. My agent, who also represented Tom Cruise, basically tortured me into at least meeting (director) Tony Scott, saying … he was completely obsessed with me.”
The movie would become one of the biggest hits of his career, and one of the first times he went so deep into a role that he almost got lost.
Kilmer became “obsessed” with figuring out why his character, Iceman, was a jerk. At one point, he hallucinated a conversation with Iceman’s father, who was chewing ice — a tic that Kilmer gave his character.
Kilmer, as Iceman, asked the hallucination what he wanted. To stay on your “journey for the clergy”, the imaginary dad replied.
Despite their rivalry, he admitted he’s always had the most respect for Tom. After all, Top Gun was one of the movies that put both of the actors on the map. Once it was released, the film made over $350 million worldwide, making it one of the highest-paid movies of the ’80s.
“Tom is a comrade I respect and admire,” Val said. “Though as creatures we hail from galaxies far, far away from one another.”
With so much success the movie had, it’s hard to believe the former stage actor wasn’t so excited about playing Lt. Tom ‘Iceman’ Kazansky on-screen. In fact, he said his agent had to force him to take the audition because the director was a big deal.
Now, 34 years later, Tom and Val will reunite to make Top Gun: Maverick. The film is set to release in the U.S. in December 2020.