Kilmer’s return to the screen has been just one of the stories surrounding the extraordinary success of the Top Gun sequel. It is now Tom Cruise’s biggest film of his career at the domestic box office and has been greeted with adulation from fans and critics alike. One of the most powerful and moving highlights has been the extraordinary appearance on screen of Kilmer. The actor famously battled throat cancer in 2015 and the various surgeries pierced his windpipe and throat. He has been left with permanent damage resulting in difficulties breathing and speaking, keeping his throat covered in public with scarves and sweaters. Yet he ‘talks’ to Cruise in the film via various methods including, emotionally, his own voice.
In one particular scene, Cruise’s Maverick visits his old rival and now friend Tom Kazansky at home. While Maverick continues to rebel against the establishment, Iceman is now an Admiral in the US Navy and the commander of the US Pacific Fleet. He is the one who supports Maverick and recommends him for a new job training young pilots.
Iceman communicates via computer screen, until the very last moment of the scene when he speaks out loud and says: “The Navy needs you Maverick, they (the pilots) need you.”
Kilmer has spoken of his many emotions shooting the scene and then being able to watch it back now the film has been released.
Kilmer said (via email to USA Today): “I was very moved the first time I saw it. Almost 40 years is a long time for a reunion. We laughed all day. Tom is great and surprisingly funny!!”
The two characters and former enemies, hug at the end of their scene, a moment Kilmer said came “straight from the heart.”
He added: “I love Tom. We’ve always gotten along great.”
The actor is also personally proud and pleased his character has done so well for himself: “It is nice to see Iceman reach such success in the career he loved. It’s a good story arc. And it was very exciting to be back at it with Tom.”
In the 2021 documentary Val told his remarkable story, with his son Jack voicing his thoughts. However, Kilmer has also helped pioneer new AI technology.
He made a video with ground-breaking technology pioneers, Sonantic, explaining their work: “I was struck by throat cancer. After being treated, my voice as I knew it was taken away from me. People around me struggle to understand me when I’m talking. But despite all that I still feel I’m the exact same person.”
The company has taken old voice recordings and fashioned an AI version that allows the actor to speak freely and clearly.
TOP GUN MAVERICK IS OUT NOW IN CINEMAS