Kelly McGillis remembers 'Top Gun' — and life since then
Nobody feels the need for speed when it comes to getting older, but Kelly McGillis has made good use of the 25 years since “Top Gun” took off at the box office.
The California-born actress, now 54, went on to leading roles in such high profile films as “The House on Carroll Street,” “The Accused” and “The Babe” in the late ’80s and early ’90s, married in ’89, had two daughters, divorced 10 years later, acted onstage and in a string of TV movies, came out as a lesbian in ’09, narrated a highly regarded documentary on breast cancer in 2010, and is now working as a fulltime substance abuse counselor in New Jersey.
“It’s kind of shocking and kind of depressing to hear 25 years ago,” McGillis told The Oklahoman in a recent phone interview from her Collingswood, N.J. home.
“It sounds like a long time ago,” she said.
But to her it doesn’t seem that long ago that she took on the role of “Charlie,” a beautiful flight instructor who reluctantly falls for a cocky, hotshot Navy pilot (played by Tom Cruise) in the Tony Scott-directed romantic thriller, “Top Gun,” one of the biggest box office hits of 1986, not to mention the last 2 ½ decades.
The film releases Tuesday in a special anniversary Blu-ray edition, and McGillis can only speak of the making of the film with fond memories.
“It was a great group of guys and it was so much fun to make,” she said. “We had a great time.”
Although the difference in heights of the romantic leads (she’s 5-10, Cruise is 5-7) caused concern in some quarters, McGillis said having three inches over her co-star was no problem with her.
“Not with me, not with Tom, not with Tony Scott,” McGillis said. “It was a problem with whoever was in charge of us at Paramount. They had a problem with that but none of us had a problem with that.”
And of her “Top Gun” leading man, McGillis said, “He’s a lovely man. I have nothing negative to say about Tom. He’s just kind and generous and loving and supportive, and I just think he’s a wonderful human being.”
McGillis did plenty of research for her role in the film, talking to a number of people including her father, a former aircraft designer for McDonnell Douglas, and to a real-life female flight instructor.
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