In 2014, Hollywood megastar Val Kilmer was diagnosed with throat cancer. After undergoing several procedures —including a tracheotomy, Kilmer lost his voice, drastically limiting the amount of work he could do in Hollywood. But when rumors of a Top Gun sequel started flying (pun intended), Tom Cruise did everything possible to get his old friend on board.
Last year the actor worked with a London tech company, Sonantic, using artificial-intelligence technology to re-create his iconic voice for the sequel. Sonantic used old recordings of Kilmer’s voice to make it look as if he were speaking in the film, according to Fortune.
In an August interview with People, Kilmer’s son, Jack Kilmer, said his dad was excited about the project.
“They honor the legacy of Iceman, and he was so stoked by it,” the younger Kilmer said.
In the same interview, the film’s producer, Jerry Bruckheimer, said Tom Cruise was the “driving force” behind getting Kilmer to return for the sequel.
“He said, ‘We have to have Val, we have to have him back. We have to have him in the film,'” Bruckheimer told People. “And he was the driving force. We all wanted him, but Tom was really adamant that if he’s going to make another ‘Top Gun,’ Val had to be in it.”
Bruckheimer continued of Kilmer: “He’s such a fine actor, and he’s such a good individual. We had such a good time on the first one and wanted to bring some of the gang back together again.”
Kilmer also shares a rare, behind the scene cast shot from the original Top Gun movie to celebrate the release of the sequel:
“here’s a very special throwback from the OG Top Gun. Pictured here are the actual Navy Airforce Top Gun Advisors!”
here's a very special throwback from the OG Top Gun. Pictured here are the actual Navy Airforce Top Gun Advisors! pic.twitter.com/5G7IaFPoXd
— Val Kilmer (@valkilmer) May 14, 2022