Top Gun: Maverick features Tom Cruise returning to the role that made him a superstar 36 years ago, but it also includes a heartbreaking scene with Val Kilmer. The Heat star has a small cameo as Tom "Iceman Kazansky, who reunites with Cruise's Pete "Maverick" Mitchell. Kilmer's daughter, actress Mercedes Kilmer, told Page Six it was "extraordinary" to see the scene being filmed.
The scene was shot with only a small crew and family attending. Iceman is now a U.S. Navy commander while Maverick is still a captain. It was the first time Cruise, 59, and Kilmer, 62, shared a scene together since the original Top Gun since the two never made another movie together. Kilmer's role in Top Gun: Maverick was only limited by his health, as Kilmer lost his voice during a two-year battle with throat cancer.
"I was on set, I saw it live and it was extraordinary," Mercedes, 30, told Page Six. "It means a lot to my dad as he's very proud of that film. This is what he loves to do." Mercedes said it was "trippy and very special for my dad to be on set with all of his friends who made this movie when they were my age." Kilmer was only 26 when he made Top Gun.
Kilmer, who was the subject of the revealing documentary Val, has been cancer-free for six years. During his health battle, he needed an emergency tracheotomy to breathe, but it also meant he needed a feeding tube to eat and has mostly lost the ability to speak. In Maverick, the post-production team used archival recordings to recreate his voice.
Mercedes, who co-produced Val with her brother Jack Kilmer, said her father is "doing really well" today. "He can speak, but it's really raspy," she said. However, Mercedes and Jack, 26, attended the Cannes Film Festival premiere in their father's place. Kilmer remained at his Hollywood Hills home during the Maverick promotional tour to avoid crowds during the coronavirus pandemic.
Kilmer is busy pursuing his art career through his gallery HelMel Studios in Los Angeles. He also appeared in the 2020 thriller Paydirt with Mercedes. "I never underestimate my dad. He's a very resilient person, nothing surprises me," she told Page Six. "Now that he has his voice [thanks to technology], he can absolutely take on more projects." Mercedes said Kilmer never lets anything stop him, jokingly adding, "I wish he would take a break!"
Top Gun: Maverick finally hits theaters on Friday, May 27. The movie was originally scheduled for 2019, but production delays and the pandemic forced Paramount to hold the movie back. The movie is dedicated to Tony Scott, the director of the original Top Gun who died in 2012. Maverick has earned near-unanimous praise since the first screening at CinemaCon in April. Aside from Cruise, the movie also stars Miles Teller as Bradley "Rooster" Bradshaw, the son of Anthony Edwards' character Goose from the first movie. Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Lewis Pullman, and Ed Harris also star.