Val Kilmer Makes Rare Public Appearance Surprising Fans at Top Gun Screening

Top Gun and Batman Forever star Val Kilmer made a rare public appearance in Austin over the weekend, surprising fans at an event ahead of the release of Top Gun: Maverick next year. The veteran actor, who has been in poor health for years, appeared in good spirits as he talked with fans at Camp Mabry. The event was hosted by the Austin Food and Wine Alliance and Rolling Roadshow, who also hosted a screening of Tombstone at Lorraine Ghost Town with Kilmer in attendance as a special guest on Saturday.

Kilmer has had difficulty speaking since his battle with throat cancer, but has remained active in show business nevertheless. While The Snowman notoriously had someone else read Kilmer's lines and dubbed them over his performance, the actor will be speaking (or not) for himself in Top Gun: Maverick, in which he will reprise the role of Commander Tom "Iceman" Kazansky, alongside Tom Crusie as Captain Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, as well as the forthcoming Jay & Silent Bob Reboot, in which he plays a fictionalized version of himself, who has been cast in the role of Bluntman in a reboot of the Bluntman & Chronic movie that fans saw in 2001's Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back.

Fans have wondered since the release of the Top Gun: Maverick trailer back in July whether Kilmer's character in the film will pass away, given that the actor was absent from the trailer, but a funeral scene appearntly figures prominently into the story. As the movie draws nearer, don't be surprised if we get a Mystique-style revelation about who's in that casket.

Rumors started to swirl about Kilmer's health in 2015, and he denied them, opening up to The Hollywood Reporter in 2017 after two years of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. While rumors have suggested that he is self-conscious about his medical condition, he seems to be getting more comfortable being seen in the public eye, appearing in a handful of recent events while wearing an ever-present blue scarf and a tracheal breathing device.

Kilmer has long been a champion for the franchise, and years before the sequel was even official told fans that he would return to the role of Iceman before he even read a script.

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In the original film Cruise and Kilmer's characters, Maverick and Iceman, start off as rivals at the Top Gun school at the NAS Miramar, but by the end they share a mutual respect for the other. The film will bring together a combination of new and original talent, although the most obvious missing piece will be Top Gun director Tony Scott, who passed away in 2012.

Top Gun: Maveick also stars Miles Teller, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm and Glen Powell. It opens on June 26, 2020.