How old was Kelly McGillis in Top Gun? She played love interest Charlie

Amber Peake August 17, 2022
How old was Kelly McGillis in Top Gun? She played love interest Charlie
Photo by CBS via Getty Images

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OG Top Gun fans are curious to know how old Kelly McGillis was in the 80s classic as fans compare photos of the star to throwback shots. 

While Top Gun: Maverick was one of the most anticipated films of the summer, McGillis, unfortunately, did not reprise her role as Tom Cruise’s love interest in the 2022 remake.

Despite the actress not being a part of the new Top Gun film, she sparked attention this week after a comparison photo of her and Cruise made its rounds online. 

The photo, which shows the two actors in 1986 and this year, has prompted some to wonder about how old Kelly McGillis was in Top Gun. Let’s take a look…

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How old was Kelly McGillis Top Gun?

Filming for Top Gun began the summer before Top Gun’s release in June 1985. It continued over the following six months before it later wrapped that December. 

It was released the following summer in May 1986, at which time the film premiered in both New York City and Los Angeles, California. 

Born July 9, 1957,  McGillis would have been 27 when filming began and would have celebrated her 28th birthday a month into filming.

She would have been the same age by the time the film premiered in May 1986, just two months before she turned 29. 

Photo by CBS via Getty Images

McGillis is five years older than Cruise 

The actress portrayed Tom Cruise’s character Maverick’s love interest Charlie with the two co-stars in real life, having an age difference of five years. 

Cruise, born July 3, 1962, would have been 22 years old when filming for the 80s movie began. Like McGillis, Cruise would also have celebrated his birthday a month into filming, meaning he would have been 23 throughout most of the production and at the time of its premiere. 

While Cruise reprised his role as Maverick in the recent remake of the 80s classic, McGillis was not featured in the project. 

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight in 2019, ahead of the new Top Gun film, the then 62-year-old McGillis revealed she had not been asked to feature in the project as she implied her aging may have been a reason. She explained: “I’m old, and I’m fat, and I look age appropriate for what my age is, and that is not what that whole team is about.”

Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Where Top Gun actress Kelly McGillis is now 

Before the now 65-year-old rose to fame in the 80s following the success of Top Gun, an incident at her home left her traumatized. In 1982, two men reportedly made their way into her apartment, held her at knifepoint, and sexually assaulted her.

The incident stayed with McGillis as she entered her career on-screen and, according to People, led her to later begin to rely on drinking. As per the Reading Eagle, the actress has been sober since 2001, although around this time, she also took a break from Hollywood.

McGillis stepped away from the spotlight for around six years before she featured in the TV drama The L Word in 2008. 

Having stepped back into the world of entertainment, over the past 14 years, the actress has featured in several film projects and TV series’ with her most recent credit being the anthology series Dirty John which also starred Christian Slater, Connie Britton, and Julia Garner. 

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Amber is an entertainment journalist with a love for anything showbiz, celeb or reality TV. After graduating with a degree in Journalism at Brunel University she became a Showbiz Reporter at Express.co.uk. Having written for both HITC and The Focus, Amber is now a staff writer for The Focus covering the latest celeb and entertainment trends.