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‘Top Gun’ 1986 Cast Then and Now: See Maverick, Goose, Iceman and More!

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While the 2022 Top Gun sequel Top Gun: Maverick took the nation by storm (it’s hard to forget the “summer of the ‘stache,” courtesy of Miles Teller‘s character “Rooster”), there’s something about the original film that scratches a certain itch in our brain — and the Top Gun 1986 cast has changed quite a bit between then and now!

So what was it that made this film so iconic? Could it be a young and dreamy Tom Cruise? That iconic rendition of Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire“? Or just good old fashioned 80s nostalgia that we simply can’t get enough of?

Whatever it might be, Top Gun 1986 is a film and a cast we can’t forget. And if two installments of the film wasn’t enough, it’s been reported that Cruise will return for a third film in the series.

Val Kilmer and Tom Cruise, Top Gun, 1986
Val Kilmer and Tom Cruise, Top Gun, 1986Paramount Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

For Tom Cruise, having the second film honor the original was crucial — and stepping back into the role so many years later was a unique experience.

There were many emotional moments,” Cruise told Beverly Hills Magazine. “Sitting down with the actors, figuring out the character and talking about it. The actors are looking at me going, ‘What’s it like for you to come back?’ and I’m looking at them and looking at this — it was emotional. And it was something that, look, I’m very grateful because it’s not easy to try to figure out for an audience and deliver. Because I want to deliver for them. I love entertaining an audience and I love learning and pushing all of my skills as a storyteller and an actor,” he said.

What is Top Gun about?

Tom Cruise, Top Gun, 1986
Tom Cruise, Top Gun, 1986Paramount Pictures/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Top Gun follows Tom Cruise as the reckless and cocky fighter pilot Maverick, who gets sent to Top Gun Naval Fighter Weapons School. It’s there where he shows off his skills while simultaneously managing to clash with his peers and superiors, who don’t agree with his sometimes selfish approach to flying. All the while, he finds himself smitten with his flight instructor.

Top Gun cast then and now

Tom Cruise as Maverick

Tom Cruise in 1986 and 2023
1986 / 2023 Paramount Pictures/Archive Photos/Getty Images ; Mike Coppola/WireImage

Tom Cruise starred in Top Gun in the midst of his 80s success. The decade gave us flicks like Risky Business (1983), Top Gun (1986) and Rain Man (1988) to name a few. After Top Gun and his decade of on-screen accomplishments, Cruise’s career only propelled. Throughout the 90s, Cruise starred in some of his most revered roles, including A Few Good Men (1992), The Firm (1993), Mission: Impossible (1996), Jerry Maguire (1996) and Eyes Wide Shut in 1999 alongside his ex-wife Nicole Kidman.

Since then, Cruise has continued to act in some of the biggest blockbusters of the 2000s, including renowned movies like War of the Worlds (2005), Edge of Tomorrow (2014), and one of his more recently celebrated, Top Gun: Maverick. The Top Gun sequel was beloved, and Cruise thoroughly enjoyed reprising his role.

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It was now or never,” Cruise told Beverly Hills Magazine of choosing to go forward with the sequel when they did. “And finally, the story came together and technically the things that I felt we could get to an audience, a global audience, was something that I thought, ‘OK, well, if we’re going to go in, we’re going to go in now.’”

Val Kilmer as Iceman in the Top Gun 1986 cast

Val Kilmer in 1986 and 2019
1986 / 2019Bonnie Schiffman/Getty Images ; Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

Val Kilmer played “Iceman,” Maverick’s rival in the original Top Gun film. After this role, Kilmer played Jim Morrison in The Doors (1991) and also acted in Batman Forever (1995), The Saint (1997), The Salton Sea (2002) and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005).

Kilmer was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2015 and since recovering has been seen in films such as Top Gun: Maverick (2022), The Birthday Cake (2021), Paydirt (2020) and more.

Kelly McGillis as Charlie

Kelly McGillis in 1986 and 2013
1986 / 2013Paramount/Getty Images ; Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Kelly McGillis played the role of Charlie in the original Top Gun film, the love interest of Tom Cruise’s character. Notable movies that followed included 1988’s The Accused alongside Jodie Foster, and she continued acting consistently over the years in both film and TV. Her more recent roles have been in Dirty John in 2020, Maternal Secrets in 2018, An Uncommon Grace in 2017 and Blue in 2015.

Anthony Edwards as Goose in the Top Gun 1986 cast

Anthony Edwards in 1986 and 2023
1986 / 2023LGI Stock/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images ; Taylor Hill/WireImage/Getty Images

“Talk to me Goose!” Anthony Edwards played the beloved role of Goose in the original Top Gun film, whose fictional death has fans mourning to this day. Yet Anthony Edward harnessed his big screen success in the film. After Top Gun, Edwards worked consistently in a wide range of movies and even some shows until 1994 when he was cast in the series ER as Mark Greene. He played this role into the 2000s, winning a Golden Globe for it in 1998.

Since then, he continued to appear in shows like Zero Hour, Girls, Blue Bloods, Billions, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Designated Survivor, Inventing Anna, WeCrashed, Tales of the Walking Dead and The Broadway Show with Tamsen Fadal.

Although his character died in the original film, Edwards was still featured in the Top Gun sequel in flashbacks, and Miles Teller played the character of his son.

It’s the biggest movie that I’m in that I never had to show up for a day of work, so it was fun,” he joked with Entertainment Tonight.

Related: Cast of ‘ER’ Then and Now: Catch Up With the Stars of the Iconic Medical Drama

Tom Skerritt as Viper in the Top Gun 1986 cast

Tom Skerritt in 1987 and 2022
1987 / 2022Ralph Dominguez/MediaPunch via Getty Images ; Mat Hayward/Getty Images

Before Top Gun, Tom Skerritt had a very successful career in both film and television. After Top Gun, he continued expanding his resume. He went on to act in series such as Cheers, Picket Fences, Chicago Hope, and in more recent years, Madam Secretary, The Good Wife, White Collar and Leverage, to name a few.

He’s also done extensive film work as well, seen in moves such as Steel Magnolias (1989) and Contact (1997). The 90-year-old actor’s most recent work was in 2021’s Catch the Bullet.

Meg Ryan as Carole in the Top Gun 1986 cast

Meg Ryan in 1987 and 2024
1987 / 2024Bonnie Schiffman/Getty Images ; Steve Granitz/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Meg Ryan is another famous face to leave her mark in the original cast of Top Gun. Once she played her part as Goose’s wife, her career only soared. Her iconic 1989 role in When Harry Met Sally cemented her status as a certified leading lady, and parts only continued to come her way. She further found her footing in hits like Sleepless in Seattle (1993) and You’ve Got Mail (1998). Her most recent role was in What Happens Later (2023),

RELATED: The 10 Most Iconic Meg Ryan Rom-Com Movies, Ranked


Want to see more of your favorite casts then and now? Click through below!

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The Cast of ‘The Outsiders’ Then and Now: See Where the Stars of the ’80s Classic Are Today

‘Who’s The Boss?’ Cast Then and Now: See the Stars of the Beloved ’80s Sitcom

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