Val Kilmer Reveals What Its Really Like To Work With Tom Cruise

"I feel the need. The need for speed." This became the famous catchphrase from the 1986 film "Top Gun" about the best-of-the-best military aviators in America. In the action packed movie, Val Kilmer played Lieutenant Tom Kazansky, who went by the callsign Iceman, and was the main competition to the hotshot pilot Pete Mitchell aka Maverick, played by Tom Cruise, via IMDb. It was one of Kilmer's earliest roles in Hollywood before growing even bigger with films like "The Doors", "Batman Forever," and "The Saint," via IMDb. Surprisingly, Kilmer nearly passed on his "Top Gun" role because he wasn't interested in the script. After his agent and the film's director insisted, Kilmer joined the cast, Entertainment Weekly recapped. Kilmer fondly remembers his time on set of the classic '80s flick. "We were all so young during the making of the first movie, but even then, there was a special bond between us all," the actor said.

Sadly, Kilmer was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2014 and after radiation and a procedure on his trachea, the actor could barely speak as of 2017, per The Hollywood Reporter. The documentary "Val" detailed his journey and the filmmakers said of the actor, "there's the childlike playfulness, but then there's also the deep wisdom of somebody who's been on a spiritual path their whole life at the same time," per People. Among that wisdom and experience is knowing exactly what it's like to work with Cruise, one of the longest-running leading men in Hollywood.

High flying fun with Val Kilmer and Tom Cruise

In 2022, fans finally received the long awaited sequel, "Top Gun: Maverick." As the title suggested, Tom Cruise reprised his role as Maverick in the film. Despite his health issues, Val Kilmer signed on to reprise his role as well. "It was like no time had passed at all," Kilmer told Entertainment Weekly about working once again with Cruise. 

The two were so comfortable with each other that it was difficult to finish filming their scene. "We blew a lot of takes laughing so much," Kilmer admitted. "It was really fun ... special," the actor added. While at a premiere for "Top Gun: Maverick," Cruise said "it was lovely" working once again with Kilmer, Metro reported. "He's an actor that I greatly admire, so it was wonderful," Cruise added about Kilmer.

In an ask me anything thread on Reddit, Kilmer further detailed what it was like to work on the original "Top Gun" with Cruise. One user asked the actor if the rumors about an off-screen rivalry between him and Cruise were real. Kilmer refuted any animosity directed towards his co-star and said of Cruise, "He was a sweet heart." Even more, Kilmer said he felt a little guilty because he and the other actors had more opportunities outside of filming "to play and date the cute extras and zoom around San Diego in muscle cars, but Tom was always in some scene and never go to play with us."