Why you don’t hear from Kelly McGillis anymore

The legendary Top Gun movie launched Tom Cruise into superstardom.

But Kelly McGillis, who played his romantic interest in the film, took a completely different path.

Today, it’s difficult to recognize the 65-year-old actress – she has faced significant age-related criticism in recent years…

I can’t be the only one who couldn’t help but think of Kelly McGillis when I went to see Top Gun: Maverick at the cinema, the sequel to the beloved 80s classic. Even though I knew she wouldn’t be in it, I still held out hope to catch a glimpse of her.

Unfortunately, McGillis didn’t make an appearance, while Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer reunited in an emotionally charged scene. According to McGillis, she wasn’t invited to join the cast. In 2019, Entertainment Tonight speculated whether the filmmakers of Top Gun: Maverick had approached her for a role in the sequel.

“Oh my god no. They did not, nor do I think they would ever,” McGillis replied.

“I mean, I’m old and I’m fat, and I look age-appropriate for what my age is, and that is not what that whole scene is about.”

However, the 65-year-old actress didn’t seem to mind being excluded from Top Gun: Maverick, which became the blockbuster hit of 2022.

“I’d much rather feel absolutely secure in my skin and who and what I am at my age, as opposed to placing a value on all that other stuff,” she stated.

The Truth About Her Role in Top Gun

In the eighties, McGillis was among the few women commanding million-dollar fees. In Top Gun, she portrayed the astrophysicist and training school instructor Charlie Blackwood.

The blonde, statuesque actress left an indelible mark as Maverick’s love interest – her intelligent yet beautiful character became iconic.

“I don’t think anything prepared me for what I guess was becoming a household name kind of thing,” McGillis recounted to LA Times.

“It was really intimidating to me. I don’t aspire to be famous. I just aspire to be an actress, and that movie kind of startled my reality in a big way. I got very insecure. I didn’t know who I could trust to be my friend anymore.”

Charlie was actually inspired by another iconic figure – Christine Fox. Fox, a renowned civilian flight instructor and mathematician, was encountered by the producers during their research for the movie.

She would later enjoy a distinguished career at the Pentagon – Fox served as Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense, the highest position ever held by a woman at the Department of Defense.

McGillis’s casting as Charlie was somewhat serendipitous. She was initially slated for another film, but it fell through. Paramount reached out to her, and McGillis, impressed by the script, traveled to San Diego for filming.

”I felt it was a Western in the sky. I had no clue how visually impeccable it would be. I think Tony Scott brought so much to that movie visually,” she remarked.

Her portrayal in Top Gun elevated McGillis to sex symbol status, yet she was also acclaimed for her performance. The palpable on-screen chemistry with Cruise was undeniable, and McGillis held her co-star in high regard off-set as well.

“I think Tom is terrific. He’s the sweetest guy. He is very genuine and sincere and respectful. And I just loved working with Tom. I think he is wonderful,” she expressed.

At the time, McGillis drew comparisons to screen legends like Grace Kelly, Ingrid Bergman, and Lauren Bacall.

But Kelly could never take those comparisons seriously.

”I have never thought of myself as a great beauty. In my teenage and prepubescent years when one forms one’s ideas of oneself, I think primarily I was very overweight and had a very low self-esteem,” she confessed to Intelligencer Journal in 1986.

Turning Her Back on Hollywood

Although many of us remember McGillis for her role as Charlie in Top Gun, it wouldn’t do her justice to focus solely on that film – because she has accomplished so much more in her life and career.

She burst onto the Hollywood scene in 1985 with her breakthrough role as an Amish widow in “Witness.” Following her success with Top Gun, she starred in the controversial film “The Accused,” portraying a tough lawyer. McGillis went on to land several television and film roles throughout the 1990s, but none propelled her career to greater heights.

Afterward, the outspoken actress defied convention and turned her back on Tinseltown. She refused to accept the scripts she was offered, cut her blonde locks, departed from Hollywood, started a family, and gained weight.

“I think just my priorities in life changed. It wasn’t like a major decision that I made to leave, it was just that other things became more important,” she revealed to Entertainment Tonight.

Kelly McGillis’s Husband

After leaving Hollywood, she devoted herself to her family and took time off to raise her now-adult daughters, Kelsey and Sonora.

Shortly after the premiere of “The Accused,” McGillis fell for Fred Tillman – a man with no ties to show business. Yet Fred and Kelly shared common interests; they enjoyed sailing and beaches.

Kelly, a Newport Beach native born in 1957, felt she had found her soulmate.

McGillis and Tillman exchanged vows, acquired a yacht, and set sail for Europe.

The family eventually settled in Key West, Florida, where they jointly opened a restaurant named Kelly’s Caribbean Bar & Grill.

However, McGillis’s past seemed to catch up with her. According to the Top Gun star, she didn’t relocate to Florida to escape – but she had personal challenges to overcome.

She struggled with alcohol consumption and questioned her sexuality. For a time, she was a “wreck.”

“I was never really unhappy. It is just that I wanted to reclaim my anonymity, to live my own life. I think that if you have children, it is you who should look after them. I didn’t want my kids to think of me as a movie star, I wanted them to know me as Mommy,” she explained to The Daily Telegraph in 1999.

Coming Out

In 2002, McGillis and Tillman parted ways. Seven years later, she came out as a lesbian during an interview with SheWired. According to the actress, her coming out had been a process since she was 12.

“Life is a freaking journey, and it’s about growing and changing, and coming to terms with who and what you are, and loving who and what you are,” she declared.

While running her Key West restaurant, she crossed paths with bartender Melanie Leis. Unfortunately, their relationship was tumultuous and self-destructive; both struggled with substance abuse and sought treatment. McGillis grappled with excessive drinking.

Nevertheless, the two tied the knot in New Jersey in 2010. McGillis’s former husband, Fred Tillman, attended the civil union ceremony.

“He was my greatest, bestest friend, and he still is,” McGillis affirmed to Daily News, adding: “I was gay before I had kids. I had a really tough time coming to accept myself.”

Kelly McGillis and Melanie Leis ended their relationship in 2011.

Kelly McGillis Today

As of now, Kelly reportedly resides in a log cabin in the hills of Hendersonville, North Carolina. She sports short gray hair and prefers the comfort of trousers.

Source: https://www.nickiswift.com/933323/why-you-havent-heard-from-kelly-mcgillis/