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The Real Reason Tom Cruise And Val Kilmer Kept Their Distance While Filming Top Gun

The 1980s are regarded as a time of excess in America. That excess naturally made its way into the movies of the era, with a ceaseless stream of big budget action flicks ushering in the age of the blockbuster first teased by 1970s hits like "Jaws," and "Star Wars." Some diehard fans of these flicks might argue that 1985's "Top Gun" was the best of the decade's bombastic hits when it was released, and the film's esteem has only seemed to grow in the decades since its release.

Outside of its high-flying spectacle, "Top Gun" is perhaps best-known for being the film that launched Tom Cruise to the top of Hollywood's action movie A-list. But the beloved actioner also made a star of Val Kilmer, who wrote fondly of his experiences making it in his recent memoir, "I'm Your Huckleberry." As one might expect, the book is bursting at the seams with choice anecdotes from Kilmer's storied career, and indeed includes several from his time filming the iconic actioner. While Kilmer offers some hilarious insight into matters like his character's famously coifed crew cut in the film, "Top Gun" fans will likely be more interested in Kilmer's take on why he and Cruise mostly kept their distance from each other during the shoot.  

Cruise was more interested in working than partying on Top Gun according to Kilmer

Kilmer and Cruise, of course, played rival fighter pilots Iceman and Maverick respectively in "Top Gun." Much has understandably been made over the years that the duo weren't exactly palling around during the film's production, with many assuming a rivalry had also sprung up between the then rising stars. According to Cinema Blend, Kilmer himself admitted that the truth was more complicated in the 2021 documentary "Val," writing that "In reality, I've always thought of Tom as a friend, and we've always supported each other."

Per an excerpt from Kilmer's book published by Entertainment Weekly, however, the actor claims another factor led the "Top Gun" cast to splinter into two factions, citing Cruise's focus on work over partying. In Kilmer's own words, "Tom refrained from our revelry, with good reason. From day one, he was laser-focused on a singular goal: to become the greatest action hero in the history of film." Kilmer continued in admiration, "He was up nights learning lines; he spent every waking hour perfecting his stunts. His dedication was admirable. Of course, even more admirable is the fact that he achieved his goal."

Still, the actor claims he and Cruise had at least a little fun while working on "Top Gun," writing, "My favorite moment between us was a small prank in which I gave him an extremely expensive bottle of champagne but placed it in the middle of a giant field and made him follow scavenger-hunt-style clues to find it." Kilmer added. Here's hoping the ice remains "just right" when the duo reprise their roles in the upcoming "Top Gun: Maverick," which is slated to hit theaters on May 27, 2022.