Kelly McGillis signed with Paramount Studios in the mid-80s to make two features films. The first, “Witness,” was a huge hit and earned her a Golden Globe nomination. The actress had some specific ideas about what she wanted to do in the second movie but the Paramount brass had already decided: It would be about a group of young test pilots.
It wasn’t exactly the film McGillis would have picked for herself, but “Top Gun” went on to become the biggest box office draw of 1986 , taking in more than $176 million. From its driving Kenny Loggins tune “Danger Zone” to the catch phrase “I feel the need, the need for for speed,” “Top Gun” became a hit and remains as high-flying as ever.
A 25th anniversary edition will be released Tuesday. It includes a six-part documentary on the making of the film and interviews with cast and crew.
“I never thought the film would be considered a classic, it was just a fun movie to make,” McGillis says. “It had good-looking people and great visuals. It was pure entertainment and a way for people to escape and forget their problems.”
Director Tony Scott combined the action of a group of hot shot pilots , played by Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer and Anthony Edwards , with a love story between a cocky pilot, known as Maverick (Cruise), and his civilian instructor (McGillis).
Scott had such a clear vision of how he wanted the movie to look that McGillis and Cruise had to go to the airport tarmac every day for a week just so a scene had the right light.
McGillis, 54, was willing to get a little nostalgic for the re-release of “Top Gun,” but generally she looks at the present and future. After taking some time off to raise her two daughters, McGillis has started slowly getting back into acting. She finds most casting directors are surprised to see she’s not that same-looking twentysomething who broke hearts in “Top Gun.”
“People in this business are trying to look perpetually 30 years old. But, people get older. I don’t want to color my hair. I don’t want to do that stuff to try to look younger. I want to be who I am. I want to be a character actress,” McGillis says. “I hope that I get to work but it’s all out of my control.”
—Rick Bentley - McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)