Top Gun: Maverick is getting a lot of attention and even driving up interest for the first film. A few weeks after Top Gun Star Val Kilmer teased an AI recreation of his voice by British farm Sonantic, many fans of his character from the Top Gun franchise are looking forward to hearing more from him in the upcoming sequel, all thanks to Tom Cruise.
There’s a pretty good reason that Kilmer’s appearance in Maverick has been met with such joy. The star was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2015 and since then he has undergone chemotherapy, radiation, and a tracheostomy. The treatment had its side effects, damaging his vocal cords and his voice was permanently altered.
However many things have changed for Kilmer since 1986, Maverick producer Jerry Bruckheimer and writer Christopher McQuarrie were determined to create a moment that properly honors the Iceman legacy. Using the latest AI technology, Kilmer was able to speak with his voice. Using “archival footage of his voice,” the company Sonantic was able to model Kilmer’s past way of speaking and used it in the film.
“We called Val and told him we wanted to meet him to be in the picture. And he was thrilled,” Bruckheimer shared at the film’s San Diego premiere. “Tom [Cruise] said he wasn’t going to make the movie without him. So the fact that he was able to do it and he worked with us on the script, to have him there and be a part of it was a really emotional day when we filmed him. Because you want to see those two on the screen again, Iceman and Maverick going at it. And that’s what movie making and audiences love.”
Kilmer’s son Jack said how much Iceman’s appearance meant to his father. He said, “They honor the legacy of Iceman, and he was so stoked by it,” he said. “[My sister] Mercedes and I went down to San Diego to that big naval base for the shoot with Tom Cruise and everyone. And there were hundreds of extras of real pilots coming up to us and telling us that the first Top Gun inspired them to join the Navy and the Air Force. It was one of the proudest moments of being American that you could think of really.”
The Top Gun sequel, meanwhile, is currently receiving huge pre-release buzz, in part to the news of Kilmer’s voice being recreated by AI and his emotional reunion with Cruise on the sets of the movie.
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