Why Does Kelly McGillis Want To Apologize For 'Top Gun'?

Tom Cruise's co-star in the classic action film directed by Tony Scott says she feels bad when people tell her they enlisted in the Navy because of her.

Upon its release in 1986, Top Gun became not just a box office smash, but a bona fide pop culture phenomenon. Star Tom Cruise became a star virtually overnight, while director Tony Scott changed the visual landscape of moviemaking by incorporating the then-burgeoning aesthetic of music videos into the look of the film.

But at the time it was made, Kelly McGillis, Cruise’s co-star and on screen love interest, says she had no idea it would go on to become a movie classic, much less a creative breakthrough for Hollywood. “Never could I have imagined that,” she telles Celebuzz.

To commemorate the release of Top Gun (IMAX) 3D, McGillis spoke to Celebuzz about her experiences working on the film – in particular, her work with Cruise, and her regrets that the film became a powerful tool for recruitment, increasing Navy enlistment a reported 500 percent.

Celebuzz: Was there any sense when you were making Top Gun that it was going to be the phenomenon that it became?

Kelly McGillis: You know what? I don’t think so. I thought when we were making it, it would be a good, fun film. But I had no idea, not even in my wildest dreams that it would be around 27 years later, and then be rereleased in 3D. Never could I have imagined that, and that’s surprising, and a lot of that is due to Tony Scott’s vision, and how stylized the piece is because of him and I think that’s what makes it so timely and fun and just built a great Western in the sky, so to speak.

CB: How readily did you and Tom develop chemistry with one another on set? At that time was he iconically charismatic like we think of him now?

KM: I don’t know. I just thought he was a really nice guy, very respectable, very kind; I had a great time working with him. I thought he was really lovely. I don’t think he was “iconic” as you say now.

CB: Many people criticized it for being a “recruitment tool” for the Navy. Did you have any concerns going into it at all that it could become a propagandistic kind of movie?

KM: I think in the middle of it I realized “Oh my goodness, I am making the biggest recruitment film possible!” but I did realize it in the middle of it. I thought “Oh oh dear, I hope people don’t go off and make their life decisions based on a movie” but sadly enough there has been a lot of people who have said “Oh, I went in the Navy just because of you.” I am like “Oh my god... I am so sorry.”

CB: I don’t know how much of a fan or critic you are of 3D in general, but how do you feel about Paramount converting the film into 3D?

KM: Well, I love 3D movies, I love going, I love wearing those clear little glasses, you know (laughs). I love those movies, maybe I’ll go. I haven’t seen that movie since it’s been made, but maybe I’ll see it in 3D.

CB: Well in general, how often do you go back and look at the movies that you make?

KM: Never.

CB: Is that because you feel like you’re done with that experience, or do you find yourself second-guessing your performance?

KM: Well, both of those reasons, actually. I have no control of the product once I have done it, so I really don’t see why I should go back and try to hyper-analyze everything because that is my tendency to do that anyway, in something that I can not possibly change. So I really try not to put my self in that situation.

I did see a movie of mine a few years ago at a fundraiser event that I did, and I remember looking at the movie thinking, “jeez, why did I think I was so fat, and why did I think I was so ugly all the time?” And that was a really interesting moment, because I have not seen any movie that I have done, I only look at it right after I do it so I can talk about it, so that was an interesting experience for me.

CB: When you make a movie that is this successful, do you feel a sense of pressure to follow that up with other things that are equally as distinctive or memorable? Do you worry about that at all?

KM: I don’t worry about it at all, and I am sure some people do but I don’t. What I think Top Gun gave me the ability to go do was a lot of theatre, which perhaps I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do. So I looked at it as it gave me a lot more opportunities to do different things. I think today the pressure may be on for people to do, you know, the next best thing much more so than when I was acting. At least I didn’t feel that way.

CB: What creative opportunities are you finding now? Are you finding a wide variety of things, or when you do something like Ti West’s The Innkeepers, do you find that you get offered a lot more horror movies as a result?

KM: Well I feel in some ways, like I am starting over. You know, I was really lucky -- right after Julliard I worked a lot, and I never really had to pay a lot of dues. And I think now that I have taken time off, and I really want to be older, I want to have gray hair. I want to be an older character actress, and I think one way to do that is to take time off and age, which is a good thing, [but] it is like starting over. Because I’ve been away from the whole scene for quite some time, being with my kids.



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  • kris

    i liked the movie at the time but have'n whatched any of his films in years. don't whatch any of his movies any more. he is control freek and that cult he belongs to makes me sick