Tom Cruise Didn't Want To Make Top Gun: Maverick Without Val Kilmer

The early buzz for "Top Gun: Maverick" is that the movie (the first 13 minutes that critics have seen, at least) is stellar; telling a new story while paying homage to the original 1986 film.

The "Top Gun" sequel, which stars Tom Cruise reprising his role as Maverick, also has Val Kilmer coming back as his rival, Iceman. Bringing back Kilmer — who lost the use of his voice while recovering from throat cancer — in the film was apparently a requirement for Cruise.

"Val Had To Be In It"

In an interview with People, "Top Gun" producer Jerry Bruckheimer said that Cruise was the impetus behind making sure Kilmer was included.

"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."

Kilmer, whose speaking voice was damaged after a tracheostomy, wrote about the "Top Gun" sequel in his memoir last year, "I'm Your Huckleberry." Within those pages, he shared how he felt when he heard there was a "Top Gun" sequel in development:

"He was calling it Top Gun: Maverick. Well, Tom was Maverick, but Maverick's nemesis was Iceman. The two went together like salt and pepper. It didn't matter that the producers didn't contact me. As the Temptations sang in the heyday of Motown soul, 'ain't too proud to beg.'"

According to Bruckheimer, Kilmer didn't have to beg, given Cruise's desire to have him part of the movie. "He's such a fine actor, and he's such a good individual," Bruckheimer said about Kilmer in his interview with People. "We had such a good time on the first one and wanted to bring some of the gang back together again."

According to Kilmer's son Jack, the 61-year-old actor was excited to reprise his role as Iceman. "They honor the legacy of Iceman, and he was so stoked by it," Jack told People. Jack and his father are also at the center of the Amazon documentary, "Val," which gives an intimate look at Kilmer's life including his recent battle with throat cancer.

In addition to Cruise and Kilmer, "Top Gun: Maverick" stars Jennifer Connelly as Penny Benjamin and Miles Teller as Bradley "Rooster" Bradshaw. It's directed by Joseph Kosinski ("TRON: Legacy," "Oblivion"). Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer, and Christopher McQuarrie have credit on the screenplay.

"Top Gun: Maverick" will premiere in theaters on November 19, 2021.