Tom Cruise (Maverick)
A young Tom Cruise booked one of his first major rules as Maverick in Top Gun in 1986. He played the Navy Lieutenant after earning credits for Endless Love (1981), Taps (1981), The Outsiders (1983), All the Right Moves (1983), and Legend (1985), and starring in Risky Business in 1983 as Joel Goodsen. In the years since his turn as Top Gun‘s famed aviator, Cruise only became more of a star. He earned Oscar nominations for his roles in Born on the Fourth of July (1989), Jerry Maguire (1996), and Magnolia (1999), winning Golden Globes for all three films. Cruise picked up additional Globe nominations for Risky Business, A Few Good Men (1992), The Last Samurai (2003), and Tropic Thunder (2008), and ruled the box office with gigs in Rain Man (1988), The Firm (1993), Vanilla Sky (2001), Minority Report (2002), The Last Samurai (2003), War of the Worlds (2005), and five Mission Impossible films.
Kelly McGillis (Charlie)
Tom Cruise found his Top Gun love interest in Kelly McGillis, who played Charlotte “Charlie” Blackwood. McGillis portrayed the attractive astrophysicist after spending a few years in the industry and picking up credits for Reuben, Reuben (1983), One Life to Live, and Witness (1985). She earned Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations for the latter film before playing Charlie. The actress continued her big-screen career following Top Gun, appearing in Made in Heaven (1987), The House on Carroll Street (1988), The Accused (1988), The Babe (1992), North (1994), Ground Control (1998), At First Sight (1999), and The Monkey’s Mask (2000). In recent years, McGillis appeared in episodes of The L Word as Colonel Gillian Davis, and starred in Stake Land (2010), The Innkeepers (2011), and We Are What We Are (2013). McGillis also hit the stage multiple times through the years for productions on Broadway and with the Shakespeare Theatre Company.
Val Kilmer (Iceman)
Val Kilmer joined Top Gun as Tom “Iceman” Kazansky, another Lieutenant in the Navy who butts heads with Maverick. Kilmer came into the gig with just three on-screen credits to his name: Nick Rivers in 1984’s Top Secret!, Eric in one 1985 installment of ABC Afterschool Specials, and Chris Knight in Real Genius in 1985. Following his turn as Iceman, Kilmer continued to fill his résumé with notable roles, picking up credits for Willow (1988), The Doors (1991), Thunderheart (1992), True Romance (1993), and Tombstone (1993) before playing Batman in 1995’s Batman Forever. In the years since, Kilmer hit the big screen in Heat (1995), The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996), The Ghost and the Darkness (1996), The Saint (1997), At First Sight (1999), Mindhunters (2004), Alexander (2004), Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005), Deja Vu (2006), and Felon (2008). In recent years, he appeared in episodes of Knight Rider, The Spoils of Babylon, and Psych, and continued his big-screen work in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009), MacGruber (2010), Kill the Irishman (2011), and Palo Alto (2013).
Anthony Edwards (Goose)
With a decade in the industry to his name, Anthony Edwards landed the role of Nick “Goose” Bradshaw in Top Gun. He played a close friend and comrade to Maverick, flying with the aviator until his untimely death. Edwards, who made his on-screen debut in the ’70s, earned pre-Top Gun credits for Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982), Heart Like a Wheel (1983), the short-lived ’80s sitcom It Takes Two, Revenge of the Nerds (1984), and The Sure Thing (1985). After playing Goose, Edwards earned Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe win for his extended stint on ER as Dr. Mark Greene. He also returned to Gilbert for Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise in 1987, and appeared in Miracle Mile (1988), Pet Sematary II (1992), early ’90s episodes of Northern Exposure, The Client (1994), Playing by Heart (1998), Northfork (2003), The Forgotten (2004), and Zodiac (2007). Edwards went on to win an Emmy in 2010 for his work as executive producer on the TV movie Temple Grandin, and popped up in Flipped (2010) and a 2015 episode of Girls, lent his voice to Disney’s Planes in 2013, and starred as Judge Whit Wilcox in three 2016 episodes of Billions.
Tom Skerritt (Viper)
Tom Skerritt made his appearance in Top Gun as Mike “Viper” Metcalf, a high-achieving and wise chief instructor with the unit. Skerritt came into the gig with decades of experience to his name, having earned previous credits for MASH (1970), Fuzz (1972), Thieves Like Us (1974), The Turning Point (1977), Up in Smoke (1978), Alien (1979), and The Dead Zone (1983), and episodes of The Real McCoys, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, My Three Sons, Wagon Train, My Favorite Martian, Combat!, Death Valley Days, The Virginian, Gunsmoke, and Bonanza. In the years since Top Gun, Skerritt did a late ’80s stint on Cheers, earned Golden Globe nominations and an Emmy win for his turn as Jimmy Brock on Picket Fences in the ’90s, and appeared in Steel Magnolias (1989), The Rookie (1990), Poison Ivy (1992), A River Runs Through It (1992), Singles (1992), Contact (1997), Smoke Signals (1998), The Other Sister (1999), and Tears of the Sun (2003), In recent years, Skerritt starred as William Walker in Brothers & Sisters and James Paisley in The Good Wife, and hit the big screen in Whiteout (2009), Ted (2012), At Middleton (2013), and A Hologram for the King (2016).
Michael Ironside (Jester)
Michael Ironside kicked off his career in the ’70s and earned early credits for Scanners (1981), Visiting Hours (1982), Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (1983), and The Falcon and the Snowman (1985), and episodes of Hill Street Blues, V, and V: The Final Battle. He then played Rick “Jester” Heatherly in Top Gun, an instructor for the unit. Ironside followed up the gig with appearances in Extreme Prejudice (1987), Watchers (1988), Total Recall (1990), Highlander II: The Quickening (1991), Free Willy (1993), The Next Karate Kid (1994), Major Payne (1995), Starship Troopers (1997), Walker, Texas Ranger, The Perfect Storm (2000), ER, The Machinist (2004), Young Blades, Surveillance (2008), and Terminator Salvation (2009). He recently starred as Captain in X-Men: First Class, voiced Ultra Magnus in various Transformers releases, and appeared in Extraterrestrial (2014) and Turbo Kid (2015).
John Stockwell (Cougar)
John Stockwell joined Top Gun as Bill “Cougar” Cortell, a wingman to Maverick who makes an early exit from flying. Before becoming the airman, Stockwell appeared in Losin’ It (1983), Eddie and the Cruisers (1983), Christine (1983), Radioactive Dreams (1985), My Science Project (1985), and episodes of North and South. After Top Gun, Stockwell earned acclaim for his writing, picking up an Emmy nomination for his 2000 TV movie Cheaters, and going on to post writing credits for Rock Star (2001) and Blue Crush (2002). He also stepped behind the camera as a director, helming Cheaters, Crazy/Beautiful (2001), Blue Crush, Into the Blue (2005), Turistas (2006), Middle of Nowhere (2008), a handful of episodes of The L Word, and Dark Tide (2012).
Whip Hubley (Hollywood)
Top Gun found its Hollywood in Whip Hubley, who played the wingman with a real name of Rick Neven. He had a few roles before the gig, appearing in St. Elmo’s Fire (1985), as well as episodes of Magnum, P.I. and North and South. Hubley spent the late ’80s in TV movies, and picked up ’90s credits in Life Goes On, Murder, She Wrote, Coneheads, Species, Executive Decision, and A Very Brady Sequel. In the years since, he has largely focused on television, landing bit roles in one-off episodes of The Practice, Charmed, The District, and CSI: Miami.
Barry Tubb (Wolfman)
Barry Tubb worked with Hollywood in Top Gun as Leonard “Wolfman” Wolfe, an officer assisting the lieutenant. Tubb began his on-screen career in the ’80s, appearing in Mask (1985) and The Legend of Billie Jean (1985), and episodes of Bay City Blues, The Mississippi, and Hill Street Blues before joining Top Gun. He went on to play Jasper Fant in Lonesome Dove and Return to Lonesome Dove in 1989 and 1994, respectively, and starred in Guilty by Suspicion (1991), American Outlaws (2001), and The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005). In recent years, he played Tom Cafferty for an arc on Friday Night Lights and appeared as Malcolm Dove in a few episodes of NBC’s Revolution.
Rick Rossovich (Slider)
Slider may have smelled but Rick Rossovich hardly stunk as the junior grade lieutenant, whose real name was Ron Kerner. The actor came into the gig after earning previous credits for The Lords of Discipline (1983), Streets of Fire (1984), and The Terminator (1984), and episodes of Fantasy Island, B.J. and the Bear, and Eight Is Enough. After playing Slider, Rossovich continued to act, appearing in The Morning After (1986), Roxanne (1987), Navy Seals (1990), and Truth or Consequences, N.M. (1997). He had an arc on ER as Dr. John ‘Tag’ Taglieri, and spent two years playing Lt. Anthony Palermo on Pacific Blue. Rossovich took a bit of a hiatus from acting in the 2000s, but recently signed on for small projects.
Tim Robbins (Merlin)
Tim Robbins found his spot in Top Gun as Samuel “Merlin” Wells, an officer who worked with Maverick. Robbins joined the flick after a few years in the industry, boasting early ’80s credits for No Small Affair, The Sure Thing, and Fraternity Vacation, and episodes of St. Elsewhere, The Love Boat, and Hill Street Blues. After Top Gun, spent the the next decade appearing in Bull Durham (1988), Erik the Viking (1989), Cadillac Man (1990), Jacob’s Ladder (1990), The Player (1992), Short Cuts (1993), The Hudsucker Proxy (1994), The Shawshank Redemption (1994), Ready to Wear (1994), and I.Q. (1994). After picking up Golden Globes for The Player and Short Cuts, Robbins earned his first Oscar nomination in 1996, when he was honored for directing Dead Man Walking. After starring in Nothing to Lose (1997), Arlington Road (1999), Mission to Mars (2000), High Fidelity (2000), and Antitrust (2001), Robbins finally won an Oscar for 2003’s Mystic River, taking the trophy for Best Supporting Actor. In the years since, he appeared in Code 46 (2003), War of the Worlds (2005), Zathura: A Space Adventure (2005), Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny (2006), The Lucky Ones (2008), Green Lantern (2011), Life of Crime (2013), and Welcome to Me (2014).
Clarence Gilyard Jr. (Sundown)
After appearing in episodes of Diff’rent Strokes, CHiPs, and The Duck Factory, Clarence Gilyard Jr. joined Top Gun as Marcus “Sundown” Williams. He worked with Maverick after Goose’s death but struggles with him in light of the tragedy. After the flick, Gilyard Jr. appeared in Die Hard (1988) and spent four years on Matlock as Conrad McMasters before booking his most famous role to date: James Trivette in Walker, Texas Ranger. He starred in the series from 1993 to 2001, playing Trivette in a few other spin-off projects. In recent years, Gilyard Jr. popped up in indie movies while teasing his retirement from the business.
James Tolkan (Stinger)
James Tolkan played Tom “Stinger” Jardian in Top Gun, a commander who oversees Maverick. The veteran actor boasted pre-Top Gun credits for They Might Be Giants (1971), The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973), Serpico (1973), Love and Death (1975), The Amityville Horror (1979), Wolfen (1981), Prince of the City (1981), Author! Author! (1982), WarGames (1983), Iceman (1984), The River (1984), and Back to the Future (1985). After Top Gun, Tolkan played Norman Keyes in a few episodes of Remington Steele, Mike Ragland in The Hat Squad, and Dallas Cassel in Cobra, and hit the big screen in Armed and Dangerous (1986), Masters of the Universe (1987), Back to the Future Part II (1989), Family Business (1989), Back to the Future Part III (1990), Dick Tracy (1990), and Problem Child 2 (1991). In recent years, he played Judge Fidler in HBO’s 2013 film Phil Spector, and popped up in 2015’s Bone Tomahawk.
Meg Ryan (Carol)
Early in her career, Meg Ryan played Goose’s wife Carol in Top Gun. Ryan picked up the gig after appearing in episodes of As the World Turns, ABC Afterschool Specials, and Charles in Charge in the ’80s. She went on to star in Armed and Dangerous (1986), Innerspace (1987), D.O.A. (1988), and The Presidio (1988) before picking up her first Golden Globe nomination for 1989’s When Harry Met Sally…. She landed two more nominations in the years since for Sleepless in Seattle (1993) and You’ve Got Mail (1998) and ruled the box office with her rom-com turns. In recent years, Ryan popped up in episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm and Web Therapy, and reunited with famed former costar Tom Hanks in 2015’s Ithaca.
Adrian Pasdar (Chipper)
Adrian Pasdar made his on-screen debut as Charles “Chipper” Piper in Top Gun, playing a lieutenant in the unit. The gig kicked off a busy career for the actor, who spent the late ’80s and early ’90s in Solarbabies, Near Dark, and Carlito’s Way. He went on to earn credits for episodes of Mysterious Ways, Judging Amy, Desperate Housewives, and Heroes in the 2000s, and lent his voice to The Super Hero Squad Show and the Iron Man series. His recent small-screen gigs include 2010s episodes of Castle, Political Animals, The Lying Game, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., Ultimate Spider-Man, Marvel’s Avengers Assemble, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..