Val Kilmer Had a Lot to Say About Tom Cruise Rivalry Behind the 'Top Gun' Cameras

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Val Kilmer Had a Lot to Say About Tom Cruise Rivalry Behind the 'Top Gun' Cameras
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After its highly anticipated arrival, Top Gun 2: Maverick is making its debut over Memorial Day weekend. The sequel of the original action drama was first expected in July 2019. Fast forward, we're now getting re-acclimated to Pete "Maverick" Mitchell's (Tom Cruise) world almost four decades after first meeting him in 1986's Top Gun.

But it's not just Tom that we'll be meeting once again. In one of his most famous roles of all time, Val Kilmer portrayed Iceman alongside Tom in the original film. Though Val has talked about working with Tom on the Jerry Bruckheimer-led drama before, he revealed in the 2021 Amazon Prime documentary Val that beyond the Iceman-Maverick feud on camera, there was also an off-screen rivalry, as well.

But to be clear, it had nothing to do with Val and Tom having a problem with one another. According to Val, it had more to do with how both actors were preparing for their scenes.

"On the page, there was very little to the character Iceman, so I tended to make him real," Val explained in the documentary. "I manifested a backstory for him, where he had a father who ignored him, and as a result, I was driven by a need to be perfect in every way. This obsession with perfection is what made him so arrogant."

Photo credit: Paramount Pictures
Photo credit: Paramount Pictures

Any real-life tension between himself and Tom, therefore, was a result of mirroring what was playing out in front of the cameras.

"I would purposefully play up the rivalry between Tom's character and mine off-screen as well," Val continued. "And what ended up happening is the actors in true method fashion, split into two distinct camps. You had Maverick and Goose (Anthony Edwards) on one side, and Slider (Rick Rossovich), Hollywood (Whip Hubley), Wolfman (Barry Tubb) and me, Iceman, on the other."

It's important to note that he and Tom have zero bad blood between them to this day. "It was fun to play up the conflict between our characters, but in reality, I've always thought of Tom as a friend and we've always supported each other," Val concluded.

Val's good will toward Tom has been echoed over the years in various interviews. During a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" Q&A in 2017, Val had nothing but good things to say about Tom yet again.

"He was a sweetheart. We were all quite rowdy — me and all the real flyboys and the actors — so I actually felt a little sorry for him cause we all had time to play and date the cute extras and zoom around San Diego in muscle cars," Val spilled. "But Tom was always in some scene and never go to play with us ..."

Lucky for us, we get to see Tom and Val reunite on the big screen very soon.

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