Val Kilmer Reveals He Didn't Want to Be in 'Top Gun' Originally: 'The Story Didn't Interest Me'

Val Kilmer starred as "Iceman" Kazansky opposite Tom Cruise in Top Gun

Val Kilmer
Photo: Paramount/Kobal/Shutterstock

Val Kilmer came close to turning down one of his most famous film roles in his entire career.

The 60-year-old actor revealed in The Daily Beast‘s exclusive excerpts from his new memoir I’m Your Huckleberry that he originally did not want to star in the 1986 action film Top Gun.

“I didn’t want the part. I didn’t care about the film. The story didn’t interest me,” Kilmer admitted. “My agent, who also represented Tom Cruise, basically tortured me into at least meeting Tony Scott, saying he was one of the hottest directors in town.”

Kilmer said he “showed up looking the fool, or the goon” at his audition for the role of LT Tom “Iceman” Kazansky.

“I wore oversize gonky Australian shorts in nausea green,” he recalled. “I read the lines indifferently. And yet, amazingly, I was told I had the part. I felt more deflated than inflated. I had to get out of there.”

“The moment I got into the elevator, the director ran after me and slid his arm in to block the door,” Kilmer said. “He blurted his truth in his chipper British accent: ‘I know that the script is insufficient, but it will get better, Val. Wait until you see these jets. They take your breath away.’ ”

Val Kilmer

Kilmer also recalled what it was like working with Cruise, who played LT Pete “Maverick” Mitchell.

“From day one, he was laser-focused on a singular goal: to become the greatest action hero in the history of film,” Kilmer said of the 57-year-old Oscar nominee.

“He was up nights learning lines; he spent every waking hour perfecting his stunts,” Kilmer said. “His dedication was admirable. Tom is a comrade I respect and admire, though as creatures we hail from galaxies far, far away from one another.”

Everett Collection

Both Cruise and Kilmer are set to reunite in the Top Gun sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, where they will both reprise their roles from the original film. It’s set to hit theaters on December 23, 2020.

The sequel film also stars Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Ed Harris, and Glen Powell.

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