While people called Kelly McGillis, 65, “fat” & blasted her for gaining weight, her former co-star Tom Cruise has been praised for his “fit body.”

Kelly McGillis, renowned for her role as a flight instructor in the 1986 blockbuster “Top Gun,” skyrocketed to fame with her exceptional acting skills and distinctive voice. However, her journey has been marked by personal tragedies, including divorce, sexual assault, and the challenges of coming out.

Despite facing criticism and enduring personal struggles, including body image issues, Kelly has embraced her appearance, disregarding public opinion, and now leads a tranquil life, cherishing moments with her grandchildren.

Over her illustrious 35-year career in Hollywood, Kelly has left an indelible mark with her remarkable performances in films, TV series, and TV movies. Her breakthrough came with “Top Gun,” where she portrayed the love interest of Tom Cruise’s character, Maverick.

Prior to “Top Gun,” Kelly garnered accolades for her roles, earning BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations for her performance in the 1985 drama-crime series, “Witness.”

Despite her undeniable talent, Kelly did not reprise her role in the sequel “Top Gun: Maverick,” released in 2020, leaving many wondering about her whereabouts.

Reflecting on her time filming “Top Gun,” Kelly fondly recalls the camaraderie and fun moments shared with the cast. She particularly praised her co-star, Tom Cruise, whom she described as terrific, sweet, sincere, and wonderful.

Following “Top Gun,” Kelly’s significant role came in the 1988 film “The Accused,” where she delivered a critically acclaimed performance as a lawyer defending a rape victim, a role that resonated with her own experience of sexual violence.

In a candid interview, Kelly revealed being raped at knifepoint in 1982, an experience that left her traumatized and contemplating suicide. She attributed her survival to the support of her peers and educators.

After “The Accused,” Kelly continued to feature in successful films such as “North” before eventually stepping away from the limelight to prioritize family and her health. She candidly expressed that her relationship with loved ones surpassed the allure of fame.

Kelly’s personal life also made headlines, notably her public acknowledgment of her sexuality in 2009 and her marriage to Melanie Leis in 2010, which ended in divorce the following year.

Despite her notable absence from the sequel and her transformed appearance over the years, Kelly remains unfazed by societal expectations. She believes her age and appearance may have contributed to being overlooked for “Top Gun: Maverick.”

While endeavoring to lead a quiet life, Kelly faced adversity when she became a victim of a home invasion in 2016. Despite challenges, she remains resilient, focusing on what truly matters to her amidst the ever-changing landscape of Hollywood.

However, the actress believes her absence from the sequel stems from her refusal to undergo plastic surgery or alter her appearance by dyeing her gray hair blonde:

“I’d much rather feel completely secure in my own skin at my age than place value on external factors.”

Social media and media outlets have commented on McGillis’s current appearance, with many noting she looks “unrecognizable” compared to her appearance in the 1980s.

On Twitter, she faced criticism for aging and gaining weight, even being compared unfavorably to Tom Cruise, who is perceived to have aged more gracefully.

In another post, McGillis and Cruise’s past and present images were juxtaposed, inviting comments on their transformations. One user remarked:

“Yeah, Tom Cruise has aged well, maybe with a little help. Kelly McGillis looks significantly heavier and older. Aging isn’t easy. I stopped eating at 50 to avoid gaining weight.”

However, amid the criticisms, some have defended McGillis, labeling the negative comments about her body as “misogynistic.” Body-positive influencer Alex Light accused the media of sexism and fixation on women’s natural aging process:

“Women have the right to age naturally, gain or lose weight, grow gray hair, or dye their hair. We shouldn’t face scrutiny for our choices. Would this story be as sensational if it were about a man? I doubt it.”

Light added that women should be allowed to age without judgment from society or the media.

Despite the scrutiny, McGillis remains unfazed, asserting that she embraces natural aging and refuses to conform to societal standards:

“At 43, I couldn’t care less about people’s expectations of me. It’s a foolish way to live.”

She aspires to emulate Jessica Tandy, a confident older woman who embraces her age rather than striving to appear younger.

McGillis, previously known for her slender figure and blonde curls, expressed satisfaction that actress Jennifer Connelly replaced her as Cruise’s love interest in the sequel. Connelly, also a Hollywood star, gained fame for her role in the Oscar-winning film “A Beautiful Mind.”

Five years older than Cruise, McGillis relocated to Pennsylvania in 2002, prioritizing her family over her career. Although she maintained her presence in the “Mission: Impossible” franchises, family remained her focus:

“I’m transitioning into a different phase of life. Raising my daughters and being a sober parent took precedence over my career.”

Now a mother and grandmother, McGillis abandoned Hollywood to rediscover herself:

“Finding my identity beyond my profession was a challenge.”

While she cherishes her quiet life, McGillis endured a harrowing home invasion in North Carolina in 2016. Reflecting on the incident, she revealed her decision to obtain a concealed carry permit for self-defense:

“I refuse to be a victim again.”

Embracing simplicity, McGillis prioritizes quality of life over career aspirations:

“I have a serene, uncomplicated life, and I cherish it.”

Although acting remains her passion, she seeks fulfillment beyond the entertainment industry:

“I’m drawn to a life of service to others, beyond acting. It’s rewarding to witness transformation and inspire hope.”

Grateful for her adventurous past, McGillis now looks forward to traveling and spending time with her grandchildren, content with the life she has created.