Why Doesn't Val Kilmer Speak Much in 'Top Gun: Maverick'?

Val Kilmer is one of the few actors from the original Top Gun movie to return for the 80s classic's sequel, Top Gun: Maverick.

The actor once again portrays Tom "Iceman" Kazansky, and the former rival of Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (Tom Cruise) is now an admiral and commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

While Kilmer's appearance in the film is a welcome return, his character is in ill health and struggles to speak for long periods of time. Viewers may be wondering why that is.

Why Doesn't Val Kilmer Speak Much in 'Top Gun: Maverick'?

Top Gun: Maverick
Main: Val Kilmer introduces a special screening of Top Gun at Camp Mabry on September 1, 2019 in Austin, Texas. Inset: Val Kilmer and Tom Cruise on the set of "Top Gun." The actor reprises his role as Iceman in "Top Gun: Maverick." Gary Miller/Getty Images/Paramount Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

In Top Gun: Maverick, Iceman is Maverick's biggest supporter and is instrumental in ensuring his former rival remains in the force even when others try to force him to retire.

It is Iceman who pushes Maverick to return to TOPGUN to train a group of the best pilots in the world, because it's a task Iceman knows only Maverick can pull off even if the pilot doesn't think it himself.

Throughout the movie, Maverick and Iceman communicate via text before the former visits the admiral at his home, where audiences see how his health has deteriorated.

Iceman predominantly communicates with Maverick by writing out his answers on a computer in the scene, before he briefly speaks to Maverick in a quiet voice.

The character's ill health mirrors Kilmer's own, because the reason he does not speak much in the film is a result of his battle with throat cancer.

Kilmer first publicly acknowledged he was battling the disease in April 2017 when he confirmed he was in remission.

The Hollywood Reporter then reported in December that year that he had been through a two-year battle with cancer, and shared that "a procedure on his trachea has reduced his voice to a rasp and rendered him short of breath."

Kilmer has since begun using AI technology to get his voice back, People reported in August 2021, and in a clip using an AI voice with Sonantic he said: "My voice as I knew it was taken away from me. People around me struggle to understand when I'm talking. But despite all that I still feel I'm the exact same person.

"Still the same creative soul. A soul that dreams ideas and stories confidently, but now I can express myself again, bring these ideas to you, and show you this part of myself once more. A part that was never truly gone. Just hiding away."

While Kilmer has claimed that he wasn't "too proud to beg" the studio to reprise his role as Iceman in Top Gun: Maverick, the film's producer Jerry Bruckheimer said that Cruise refused to do the sequel without him.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in May, Bruckheimer explained: "[He] said, 'I'm not making this movie without Val'. When we filmed it, it was a very emotional day, having Val there and seeing him work with Tom after 35 years."

Speaking to Metro, Cruise reiterated this commitment to including Kilmer in the film as he said of reuniting with the actor: "It was lovely. The whole experience, you know, 36 years to make this film.

"There were so many moments in making it that were very special, incredibly unique. He's an actor that I greatly admire, so it was wonderful."

Following the film's successful screening at the Cannes Film Festival, Kilmer shared how happy he was to be in the sequel in an Instagram post in which he wrote: "I'm overwhelmed to see the love and appreciation for Top Gun. I'm feeling very blessed."⁣

Top Gun: Maverick is out in theaters now.

Top Gun: Maverick
Tom Cruise as Pete "Maverick" Mitchell in "Top Gun: Maverick." Paramount Pictures