We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more.

Top Gun cast and characters - where are they now?

Tom Cruise felt a need for speed in the iconic 80s movie, and our guide to the Top Gun cast list reveals what the stars have all been up to in Hollywood since.

Tom Cruise as Maverick in Top Gun

Where is the Top Gun cast now? In 1986, one of the best blockbusters ever took to the skies, Top Gun. Starring the likes of Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer, and Meg Ryan, the film has become iconic, with a killer theme song, memorable volleyball scene, and some of the best stunts ever seen on the big screen.

Following the blockbuster, many cast members have gone on to star in award-winning roles and hit TV series, and a few have even taken a step behind the camera to direct and produce as well. In short, if you were in the action movie Top Gun, chances are, just like the adrenaline-fuelled pilots in the flick, you haven’t slowed down at all.

But with the release of new movie Top Gun: Maverick in 2022, you may be wondering what has the original cast been up to these past decades, or better yet, if they returned to the pilot’s seat. Well, fear not, Mavericks, because we answer all your questions on the ’80s movie below. Here is all the info on the OG Top Gun cast, explaining where they are now and what they have planned for the future.

Who’s in the main Top Gun cast?

  • Tom Cruise as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell
  • Kelly McGillis as Charlotte “Charlie” Blackwood
  • Val Kilmer Tom “Iceman” Kazansky
  • Anthony Edwards as Nick “Goose” Bradshaw
  • Tom Skerritt as Mike “Viper” Metcalf
  • Tim Robbins as Sam “Merlin” Wells
  • Michael Ironside as  Rick “Jester” Heatherly
  • James Tolkan as Tom “Stinger” Jardian
  • Meg Ryan as Carole Bradshaw

Top Gun Cast: Tom Cruise in Top Gun

Tom Cruise as Pete Mitchell

Tom Cruise played none other than the leading man in the sky in Top Gun: Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell. The enthusiastic adrenaline junkie’s cockiness and killer instincts turned him into a legend.

Following Top Gun, Cruise would take Hollywood by storm, becoming one of the highest-grossing box office actors of all time and astounding critics with award-winning performances. His performances in Born on the Fourth of July, Jerry Maguire, and Paul Thomas Anderson‘s Magnolia, earned Academy Award nominations, and three Golden Globe wins. Other notable Tom Cruise movies include Rain Man, The Last Samurai, and the Stanley Kubrick movie Eyes Wide Shut.

And of course, the actor has developed fame from his commitment to performing all his own stunts in hit flicks such as Mission Impossible, Reacher, and Edge of Tomorrow. Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part 2 is next for him, and he is attached to the SpaceX project – the first Hollywood movie scheduled to be filmed in outer space.

YouTube Thumbnail

It would be completely negligent to mention that Cruise also returned as Pete Mitchell in the glorious Top Gun: Maverick. The movie exceeded all expectations and will go down as one of the greatest sequels of all time.

Top Gun Cast: Val Kilmer in Top Gun

Val Kilmer as Tom Kazansky

Few films featured as iconic a pair of frenemies as Maverick and Iceman. Val Kilmer played the blonde and confident Tom Kazansky, aka Iceman, the pilot who was Maverick’s rival but, by the film’s climax, turned into a fast-flying friend. Like Cruise, Kilmer has had a stellar career before and following his time in Top Gun.

Some of his most notable credits include playing Jim Morrison in The Doors, Simon Templar in The Saint, and of course – Bruce Wayne in the ‘90s movie Batman Forever. He has also received nominations for the Saturn Award for his performances in the action movies Heat, and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

In 2017, Kilmer revealed he had throat cancer and plugs in an electric voice box into his trachea to speak. However, In 2020, the actor reported that he has been cancer-free for four years, and has since been involved in several films – including the Top Gun sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, where he reprises his role as Iceman. He has also recently been cast as Mark Twain in the drama movie Mark Twain and Mary Baker Eddy.

Top Gun Cast: Kerry McGillis in Top Gun

Kelly McGillis as Charlotte Blackwood

Kelly McGillis played the part of Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Blackwood in Top Gun – the self-assured instructor who would also go on to be Mr Maverick’s love interest. Since the ‘80s action movie, McGillis has had a steady number of acting credits attached to her name. Her most recent role was in 2020 on the TV series Dirty John as Miriam Saslaw.

Besides her acting notoriety, McGillis is a mother of two, and was married to Melanie Leis in 2010 after publicly coming out as gay the year prior. McGillis and Leis have since split, and in a 2013 interview with Movie Talk, McGillis shared how she is now sharing her talent, teaching her craft in a studio in North Carolina.

Despite being such a central figure in Top Gun, McGillis didn’t return for Top Gun: Maverick, which she chalked to the fact she had naturally aged and didn’t fit with the aesthetic the sequel was going for (heart-breaking, we know).

Top Gun Cast: Anthony Edwards in Top Gun

Anthony Edwards as Nick Bradshaw

If you don’t tear up at the mention of Goose, there may be something wrong with you, period. Anthony Edwards portrayed Maverick’s best friend and first radar Intercept Officer Nick ‘Goose’ Bradshaw. In the film, the character was tragically killed during an incident in the sky.

Since his character is no longer with us, Edwards isn’t in the 2022 movie Top Gun: Maverick. However, the actor has been keeping plenty busy even without the role in the aerodynamic sequel. Appearing predominantly in TV series, the star has worked on ER, Law and Order, and Blue Bloods. He also played the role of Alan Reed in the popular 2022 Netflix series Inventing Anna, and Bruce Dunlevie in the TV mini-series WeCrashed.

In 2017, Edwards wrote an essay on Medium where he said producer Gary Goddard assaulted him. Since publishing the piece, he has become a board of directors at 1in6 – a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting those who have suffered abuse.

Top Gun Cast: Tom Skerritt in Top Gun

Tom Skerritt as Mike Metcalf

Tom Skerritt was Mike ‘Viper’ Metcalf in Top Gun. Viper was a chief instructor who had flown with Maverick’s father back in the day. Skerritt has over 100 acting credits to his name, so needless to say, he has been plenty busy following his gig as Viper.

The actor has starred in films such as Steel Magnolias, Contact, and the acclaimed Robert Redford movie A River Runs Through It. he has also had a thriving TV career, starring in sitcoms and dramas alike. Skerritt has appeared on TV series such as Will and Grace, Cheers, Homeland, The Good Wife, and Picket Fences.

In fact, his work in Picket Fences even won him an Emmy in 1993 – so yeah, the years haven’t gotten in the way of his screen time.

Top Gun Cast: Meg Ryan in Top Gun

Meg Ryan as Carole Bradshaw

What arguably made Goose’s death even more tragic was the family he left behind. Meg Ryan plays the role of Carole Bradshaw, the unlucky pilot’s wife. After Top Gun, Ryan would become Hollywood’s rom-com sweetheart of the ’90s.

Appearing in rom-coms Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, and the iconic When Harry Met Sally, Ryan has become a household name and essentially shot into stardom following the ’80s. Besides her work in front of the camera, Ryan has served as a producer and director too. In 2015 she helmed the film Ithaca, and since 1995 she has produced six titles, including French Kiss, Desert Saint, and Picture Paris.

Although Ryan is still acting – and despite Goose’s son making an appearance in Top Gun: Maverick – she is another cast member from the OG film who won’t be returning to the franchise. Her last role was in 2018 in the TV series Picture Paris.

Top Gun Cast: Tim Robbins in Top Gun

Tim Robbins as Sam Wells

After the tragic death of dear old Goose, Maverick needed a new Radio Intercept Officer, so cue in Merlin, played by Tim Robbins. After playing Cruise’s new partner, Robbins hasn’t stopped taking the world of film and TV by storm. In 1986 ( the same year as Top Gun was released) he would star in Howard the Duck. In the ‘90s Robbins would appear in Jacob’s Ladder and the award-winning The Shawshank Redemption.

If that wasn’t impressive enough, Robbins would go on to win an Academy Award and Golden Globe for his role in Mystic River as David Boyle. In recent years, he has been focusing on the world of TV, having starred in Castle Rock. He recently appeared in season 1 of Silo for Apple TV Plus. Sign up here to watch it.

Top Gun Cast: Michael Ironside in Top Gun

Michael Ironside as Rick Heatherly

Michael Ironside played the Top Gun instructor Rick Heatherly, better known by his call sign Jester. He was the guy who threatened to kick Maverick out of the school, remember? Over the years, Ironside has appeared in several popular films, TV series, and beloved franchises.

He was in the comedy movie Starship Troopers, and appeared in the Marvel movie X-Men: First Class, Total Recall, and The Next Karate Kid. On the TV side of things, Ironside voiced Darkseid in the DC animated series Harley Quinn, starred in the drama series The Dropout, and guest-starred in CW’s The Flash. Other credits include The Alienist, Hawaii Five-O, and Transformers: Prime.

In 2018, Ironside revealed how he had survived both Thyroid and Prostate cancer. Luckily the star is healthy and well now as he has a number of projects currently in the post-production stage, such as the sports movie The Fight Machine, and the fantasy movie The Jester from Transylvania.

Top Gun Cast: James Tolkan in Top Gun

James Tolkan as Tom Jordan

Maverick wouldn’t be the loveable rebel we’ve all come to know without his tight-laced USS Enterprise Carrier Air Group captain, eyeing him with disapproval. James Tolkan was Tom ‘Stinger’ Jordan in the ‘80s movie. It was he who openly reprimanded Cruise’s character for being reckless and disobeying commands. It was also his character who sent Maverick and Goose to the naval fighter school TOPGUN.

Besides Top Gun, fans may know Tolkan from his work in the hit science fiction movie Back to the Future (which came out a year before the action movie). He came back to reprise his role of Mr Strickland in Back to the Future Part II, and Back to the Future Part III. Other notable credits include Masters of the Universe, Dick Tracy, and Seven Times Lucky.

Tolkan has also had plenty of guest appearances in TV series. The star has appeared in The Pretender, Cobra, The Equaliser, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

The full Top Gun cast list:

  • Tom Cruise as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell
  • Kelly McGillis as Charlotte “Charlie” Blackwood
  • Val Kilmer Tom “Iceman” Kazansky
  • Anthony Edwards as Nick “Goose” Bradshaw
  • Tom Skerritt as Mike “Viper” Metcalf
  • Tim Robbins as Sam “Merlin” Wells
  • Michael Ironside as  Rick “Jester” Heatherly
  • James Tolkan as Tom “Stinger” Jardian
  • John Stockwell as LT Bill “Cougar” Cortell
  • Barry Tubb as LTJG Leonard “Wolfman” Wolfe
  • Rick Rossovich as LTJG Ron “Slider” Kerner
  • Meg Ryan as Carole Bradshaw
  • Adrian Pasdar as Charles “Chipper” Piper
  • Clarence Gilyard as LTJG Marcus “Sundown” Williams
  • Whip Hubley as LT Rick “Hollywood” Neven
  • Aaron and Adam Weis as Bradley Bradshaw (uncredited)

You can watch Top Gun on streaming service Paramount Plus by signing up below.

If you want to hear about more adventures in the sky, check out our guide to the best airplane movies. OR, see what we picked as the best movies of all time and the new movies we’re looking forward to.