May 27 marks a special day for Tom Cruise and every fan of 80’s action-drama flicks as Top Gun: Maverick finally takes flight after nearly a decade in development. 

Here’s the film’s latest trailer:

First knocked off course by the death of original director Tony Scott and then Covid production issues, the film will finally hit screens this summer. The overarching themes touch heavily upon the original’s nostalgia factor – pulling in a host of iconic characters and faces that fans of the first film will enjoy.

Here’s a look at the principal cast of the original – as we take a walk down memory lane and retrospect on their careers – each an iconic slice of 80’s movie history.

Tom Cruise – Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell

Tom Cruise Top Gun

The titular Maverick needs little introduction today – ever since his hotshot Naval jet pilot hit screens in 1986, he’s become something of a cultural icon. After wowing audiences in Top Gun, Cruise went on to sign for some of his career’s greatest movies in the 80s and 90s – even scoring Oscar nominations for his performances in Born on the Fourth of July and Jerry Maguire.

Today, Cruise still has the chops to dish out high-adrenaline action movies. Even though he’s pushing 60 at this point, the actor is set to appear in Mission Impossible 7, which is currently in post-production.

Kelly McGillis – Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Blackwood

Top Gun Kelly McGillis

McGillis’ Charlie Blackwood was a Top Gun instructor and civilian contractor with a background in astrophysics – pretty much the opposite of her love interest, Maverick. In 1986, she was still very new to Hollywood – only having appeared in a few films, such as Witness, where she was cast alongside Harrison Ford. 

Her biggest role immediately following Top Gun was The Accused – where she played an attorney defending a rape victim (Jodie Foster) in one of the era’s most socially relevant crime dramas. She then worked in a host of films – reuniting with Top Gun co-star Val Kilmer in 1999’s At First Sight. Since the 2000s, McGillis has come out as lesbian, returned to a few theatre appearances, and has worked in a host of TV shows and films – particularly the horror genre. She also had a full-time stint at a rehab center, working to help drug addicts and alcoholics.

Val Kilmer – Tom ‘Iceman’ Kazansky

Val Kilmer Top Gun

As the top student at the flying academy and Maverick’s biggest rival, Kilmer’s character drew him a smattering of great roles in the 80s and 90s – with our personal favorite being The Doors. Apart from Batman Forever and many other cool roles, this one film – where Kilmer played none other than legendary rockstar Jim Morrison – is often touted as the actor’s magnum opus.

Today, Kilmer’s journey has seen several ups and downs – while he never retained the 80s-90s stardom that Tom Cruise successfully has, Kilmer did pick up a variety of interesting and challenging roles through the 2000s, such as in The Salton Sea, Wonderland, and a super-underrated casting alongside Robert Downey Jr. in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Kilmer also battled against throat cancer in the 2010s – and despite having serious health issues, continues to live on.

Anthony Edwards – Nick ‘Goose’ Bradshaw

Anthony Edwards Top Gun

Edwards at the time was known for his role as Gilbert in Revenge of the Nerds, and played one of Maverick’s more level-headed batchmates in the Top Gun program.

After his 1986 success, Edwards acted in a few films before landing his most iconic role – Dr. Mark Greene from ER. He played the main character in the series all the way from 1994 to 2008, earning four Emmy nominations along the way. Since then, he’s acted in a few films, joined a Walking Dead spinoff, and rather amusingly, became the only Top Gun cast member other than Tom Cruise with a flying license.

Tom Skerritt – Mike ‘Viper’ Metcalf

Tom Skerritt Top Gun

Skerritt’s role as Top Gun’s main instructor seemed to be destiny – the actor immediately enlisted with the US Air Force after graduating high school, where he became a classifications specialist. He had already become fairly famous before landing the role – Alien and Spacecamp were some of his biggest films leading up to 1986.

After Top Gun, Skerritt went on to act in great films such as Steel Magnolias, A River Runs Through It, Contact and The Other Sister. In more recent years, he’s dabbled in a variety of work – from ballet productions to voice acting and television appearances.

(Featured Image Credits: @tomcruise/Instagram, Paramount Pictures)