Why Tom Cruise Broke Down Crying Filming Top Gun Maverick

Tom Cruise started crying while filming with Val Kilmer for Top Gun: Maverick due to their years-long friendship.

By Robert Scucci | Updated

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Reuniting with an old friend is always an emotional experience; there’s so much catching up to do, but at the same time you pick up right where you left off. This is the case for Tom Cruise when shooting Top Gun: Maverick, when the superstar got to reunite with Val Kilmer, or as we all know him in this film, Iceman. A recent Deadline article points us to a Jimmy Kimmel Live! interview in which Cruise opens up about the experience, stating “I was crying, I got emotional.”

The Top Gun: Maverick scene itself was an emotional roller coaster in which Maverick (Tom Cruise) meets up with Iceman at his home for some brotherly guidance. After over three decades, Maverick is still beating himself up over the death of his partner, Goose, and he’s having second thoughts about training the new guard for a daunting mission; one of the students being Goose’s son, whose life will be at risk. Maverick is conflicted because not only has the aviator been carrying a tremendous amount of guilt, he doesn’t want to be responsible for Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw losing his life under his direction.

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Val Kilmer in Top Gun: Maverick

For Maverick, it’s a lose/lose situation, because if Rooster doesn’t make it out alive, he’s failed, but if he makes Rooster sit out the mission, he will never be forgiven. Iceman, who is in waning health, types out “It’s time to let go,” but at this point in the film, we’re not sure if Maverick can. The scene is incredibly emotional, because in a way it reflects upon Kilmer’s off-screen health issues and his relationship with Tom Cruise; the Kiss Kiss Bang Bang star was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2015 and has been away from the limelight because of a tracheostomy.

Could you blame Tom Cruise for choking up? By the end of Top Gun: Maverick, Iceman passes away, and we could see why their emotional reunion in the movie could have evoked emotions that a real-life decades-old friendship will ultimately have to endure. One of the hardest parts about friendship and getting older is the pain of losing those that are close to you. Jimmy Kimmel even opened up the interview by saying “did you cry when you guys shot that, or was it just me?”

Tom Cruise goes on to say, “for him to come back and play that character… he’s such a powerful actor, that he instantly became that character again…you’re looking at Iceman.” It’s clear that the Mission: Impossible star has nothing but the utmost respect for Val Kilmer, and his interview with Jimmy Kimmel shows us all that the power of friendship transcends working relationships, and carries over into off-screen life. The reason the scene seems so real to us is that it was coming from a sincere place that only decades of real-life friendship could inspire.

Top Gun: Maverick premiered on May 27, 2022, and to date has seen $1,485,608,802 at the worldwide box office. Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer, and the rest of the crew deserve every bit of recognition for the record-breaking film. Not only were the air crafts and flight sequences as real as they could possibly get, so were the friendships and lifelong bonds that were made in the original 1986 Top Gun film.