'Top Gun: Maverick' Crew Says Val Kilmer Was 'Thrilled' To Reprise His Role

Elizabeth Spina
Val Kilmer "Top Gun: Maverick"
instagram | @valkilmerofficial

Top Gun: Maverick was released in theaters earlier this month, starring a few familiar faces including Val Kilmer.

The film's team recently revealed to People that the actor was "thrilled" to reprise his original role — Iceman, alongside Tom Cruise as Maverick — after overcoming a grueling battle with throat cancer.

ICYMI, Val Kilmer recently made his return to the big screen after overcoming a grueling battle with throat cancer for the last seven years.

In 2021, the 62-year-old actor revealed that he was declared cancer-free after six years of radiation, chemotherapy treatments, and a tracheostomy that permanently damaged his speaking voice.

Kilmer gave fans a behind-the-scenes look at his life in the 2021 documentary 'Val'.

The film is available to stream on Amazon Prime and competed at a number of film festivals including Cannes. It features never-before-seen footage of Kilmer working on some of his most iconic roles, as well as his recent health struggles.

"Now that it's more difficult to speak, I want to tell my story more than ever," he told People.

"I obviously am sounding much worse than I feel," he said, before explaining that in order to talk he has to plug the open hole in his throat.

"I can't speak without plugging this hole [in his throat]. You have to make the choice to breathe or to eat," he continued. "It's an obstacle that is very present with whoever sees me."

Despite the challenges Kilmer now faces due to cancer, he still accepted the invitation to be in a Top Gun sequel, more than three decades after the original release in 1986.

Tom Cruise recently admitted that he rallied for Kilmer to return to his role as Tom "Iceman" Kazansky.

Tom Cruise, "Top Gun: Maverick" interview
youtube | BBC Radio 1

"I really rallied hard for him to make the movie," Cruise told Entertainment Tonight. "The kind of talent that he has, and you see that scene, it's very special, it's just very special."

As it turns out, Kilmer has no regrets. In fact, he was "thrilled" to be included in the sequel.

Val Kilmer
instagram | @valkilmerofficial

"We called Val and told him we wanted to meet him to be in the picture. And he was thrilled," the film's producer, Jerry Bruckheimer, said at the film's premiere in San Diego in May.

"Tom [Cruise] said he wasn't going to make the movie without him," Bruckheimer continued, admitting that filming with him was an "emotional day."

Val Kilmer
instagram | @valkilmerofficial

"So the fact that he was able to do it and he worked with us on the script, to have him there and be a part of it was a really emotional day when we filmed him," he explained. "Because you want to see those two on the screen again, Iceman and Maverick going at it. And that's what movie making and audiences love."

Kilmer's son, Jack, also confirmed his father's excitement about being a part of the film.

Val Kilmer
instagram | @valkilmerofficial

"They honor the legacy of Iceman, and he was so stoked by it," Jack told People. "[My sister] Mercedes and I went down to San Diego to that big naval base for the shoot with Tom Cruise and everyone."

"And there were hundreds of extras of real pilots coming up to us and telling us that the first Top Gun inspired them to join the Navy and the Air Force," Jack revealed.

"It was one of the proudest moments of being American that you could think of really," he added.

So far, "Top Gun: Maverick" has been a critical and box-office success.

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick
youtube | Paramount Pictures

The highly anticipated sequel easily conquered the Memorial Day weekend box-office, raking in $124-million — the highest opening weekend for any of Tom Cruise's movies.

Many fans were happy to see Kilmer's character, Tom 'Iceman' Kazansky, return for a small role in the film.

Val Kilmer in Top Gun: Maverick
youtube | Paramount Pictures

The rivalry between Iceman and Maverick is at the heart of the original 1986 movie. Fans who were aware of Kilmer's health struggles wondered how he would be able to return to his role.

Thankfully, using AI technology, filmmakers were able to assist Kilmer with his performance in the new film.

Throat cancer complications took away Kilmer's ability to speak easily, but filmmakers were able to create his dialogue in Top Gun: Maverick using AI and older recordings of Kilmer's performances. The result was an on-screen performance and reunion with Cruise fans have been waiting nearly 30 years for.