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Kelly McGillis looks back at the legacy of “Top Gun”

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“Top Gun” might be getting old, but Paramount Picture is making sure the movie looks better than ever. On February 19, a newly remastered 3D Blu-ray re-release of the film is hitting store shelves following a six-day theatrical run in IMAX 3D theaters.

In anticipation of “Top Gun” being introduced to a new generation of audiences, leading lady Kelly McGillis chatted on the phone with IFC about the impact the movie has had on her life. She surprisingly hasn’t seen the flick since it came out, but because of its lasting legacy it still affects her in many ways.

IFC: Hi, Kelly. It must be a little surreal for you talking about “Top Gun” all day. I can’t believe it’s been almost 27 years since it came out.

KELLY MCGILLIS: Yeah, I can’t either. It’s a little bit challenging because I haven’t seen the film since it first came out, so good luck. [laughs]

IFC: So you haven’t seen it in 3D, then? They just converted it.

KM: No, I haven’t. I haven’t seen the film since it’s been done.

IFC: Oh, wow. Obviously this is a film that’s lasted well over the years. What’s the experience been like having that legacy attached to you?

KM: It’s wonderful. I didn’t know while making the movie that it would have such legs, and I think it’s wonderful and I think it’s a testament to Tony Scott’s vision, I really do. And I think it’s just a testament truly to the innocence of the movie. The good guy/bad guy kind of thing; very pre-9/11. Nothing sinister about it. I’m amazed, actually. I’m amazed that it lasted this long.

IFC: That innocence, is that the main reason you think it’s had such a great legacy or do you think there’s anything else to it that helps it still resonate with people?

KM: I think the style of the piece and the music. It sort of encapsulated the ’80s, what the ’80s were all about. I think that a lot of people of my age kind of really remember that time fondly. It will be interesting to see what a whole new generation of people think about that movie.

IFC: I definitely think it’s interesting that the movie is still such a part of our pop culture now. Looking back, are there any specific moments in the movie that you would be interested in seeing in 3D, or that you look forward to other people seeing?

KM: Oh no, I can’t think of any. Sorry. [laughs]

IFC: I haven’t seen it in 3D yet, but I’m intrigued by how the aerial scenes will look.

KM: Yeah, I think those will be really fun in 3D. I think that would be really fun.

IFC: I know the sequel isn’t happening but that it had been discussed in the past. Was there any talk of you coming back for that?

KM: No.

IFC: You recently showed “We Are What We Are” at Sundance. Can you talk a little bit about your involvement in that movie? People seemed to respond well to it in reviews and say that it was a refreshing take on the horror genre.

KM: I had worked with Jim Mickle before and he had called me and wanted me to come up and do this little part Marge, and I adored working with Jim when I did “Stake Land” with him, so I said, “Sure.” I kind of left it open to him that any time he wanted me to do anything I’d do it for him, so he called me and I went and did it and it was really fun. I love working with Jim. So that’s why I did it. It’s kind of a funny little part in the middle of this very dark movie. I hope that she’s a little bit of a comic relief.

IFC: Can you talk a bit about what your life has been like since you filmed “Top Gun”? What is the impact the movie has had on your life?

KM: The impact the movie had on my life was that I became a household name and I became very recognizable, and that was very overwhelming for me, because that’s not something I’ve ever striven to be. I don’t like fame for fame’s sake and it’s not something I ever aspired for, and that’s very overwhelming for me. That being said, it did also give me the opportunity to go off and do more artsy kind of stuff. I did a lot of theater, and I think that it gave me the opportunity, monetarily, to be able to do those kinds of things that I like and I enjoy and are challenging for me.

In the last kind of 12 years or so I’ve really been focused on raising a family and, now that my kids are grown up and out of the house, I’m trying to put my toes in the water to see if I can go back to work, but I also love my quiet little life. I’m happy to dabble working here and there. I’m really happy to do that and then live my life.

IFC: Is there anything in particular that you’d like to try and do going forward?

KM: To me, now, it’s no longer about making my living. To me, it’s just about doing things that I think are fun for whatever reason, because if it’s not going to be fun for me I don’t need to be leaving my house. I like my life too much today and I only want to work with people who are fun to work with.

IFC: I’m also curious, have you kept up with the “Top Gun” cast at all? I saw some really cute pictures of you and Tom Cruise at the “Prince of Persia” premiere a couple of years ago.

KM: Not really. If I run into people, I say, “Hey.” It’s not like any time has passed. But I don’t really keep in touch with any people that I’ve worked with. I think it’s a very unique situation that brings a lot of people from their lives in to do a movie, you do the movie, and after that you go home and you live your life. It’s not like you have any common thread going through other than your acting, and once that’s done, I don’t really have much in common with people, I’ve found. It’s not that I don’t like hanging out with people, but I never lived in really L.A., I’ve never kind of been in the middle of all of that stuff, and I’m very happy that I haven’t been.

IFC: You mentioned how this Blu-ray release is going to introduce “Top Gun” to a new generation. What do you hope they take away from it?

KM: I think if they just don’t see too much into it, that it’s a fun film. It’s pure entertainment. There’s nothing more to read into it. There’s no huge deep subtext to the movie. It’s just a fun movie. That’s it.

What impact has “Top Gun” had on you over the years? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Play along with movie trivia during "Scarface" tonight at 8P on IFC.

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Tony Montana is all about money, power and respect. And while we can’t promise you’ll get money or power by taking our Scarface quiz below, you will get respect if you get a perfect score. One out of three ain’t bad. Click below to take the quiz, and catch Scarface this month on IFC.

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Photo Credit: YouTube/Tufts University

We’ve made it! Memorial Day weekend! But before we can complain that it’s over too quickly, take a moment to bask in the pre-break lack of productivity and enjoy some lighthearted videos.

From Hank Azaria channeling Chief Wiggum and other Simpsons characters while talking to college grads to “Shark-spert” Jason Alexander sharing questionable shark facts, here are five funny things from this week you need to watch.

1. Kermit Informs Fozzie Bear That They’ve Been Canceled

It’s never easy to see someone receive bad news, much less a Muppet. But if anything, Kermit’s poise and acceptance during a time of crisis is impressive, admirable even. Fozzie Bear, on the other hand, reacts with greater similarity to how we would: with baseless anger and utter despair.


2. Jason Alexander Offers Shark “Fin Facts”

Memorial Day weekend means the start of beach season, aka Shark Feeding Season. As part of IFC’s Shark Half-A-Day Memorial Day marathon, “sharks-pert” Jason Alexander offers up some interesting “fin facts” about our sharp-toothed friends from the deep. You can also check out Jason’s beach tips, and catch the Jaws movies with more “fin facts” from Jason this Memorial Day on IFC.


3. Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke Confirms Dothraki Is a Real Language

With eyes still dewy from the climax of this past Sunday’s Game of Thrones (Hold the door!), the Mother of Dragons herself Emilia Clarke dropped by Late Night with Seth Meyers to throw the diehard fans a reason to smile: Yes, Dothraki is a real language. Watch Clarke discuss the phonetics and grammar involved with vying for Westeros rule.


4. Hank Azaria Gives Advice Through Simpsons Characters

Hank Azaria — star of The Simpsons, The Birdcage, and Brockmire, premiering in 2017 on IFC — gave the commencement speech at his alma mater Tufts University. In the hilarious speech, Azaria discusses how he got through college, recounts his early career struggles, and offers up life advice via fan favorite Simpsons characters like Chief Wiggum and Comic Book Guy.


5. X-Men: The Animated Series Gets Honest

Screen Junkies are back this week with another round of Honest Trailers. This entry focuses on the cartoon mutants that comprise X-Men: The Animated Series — an ultra-’90s Marvel property that predates the comic book adaptation boom of the 21st Century. But looking back at the decade of Rob Liefeld and Todd McFarlane, this video finds much to mock.

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With a career spanning five decades, “Weird Al” Yankovic has defined the song parody genre and become a beloved pop culture icon. Starting June 3rd, you’ll be able to catch him as the brand new Comedy Bang! Bang! bandleader Fridays at 11P on IFC.

We recently chatted with Al about joining Scott Aukerman on the new season, his upcoming tour, favorite CB!B! characters and his future dream projects. (Hint: it might involve actors spontaneously breaking into song.)

The Comedy Bang! Bang! bandleader gig seems like a natural fit for you. Did it take any time to get acclimated?

Weird Al: Yeah. It’s a slightly different skill set. The accordion is my main act, but I don’t use it on the show at all. It’s a keyboard setup. The actual setup is a little bit of a combination of what Reggie [Watts] had and [Kid] Cudi had. And a few extra things thrown in. So I’m trying to do my own version of what they brought to the show.

You’ve been on the Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast and the show many times. Do you have a favorite CB!B! character?

Weird Al: I’d probably have to say Doctor Time. Every time Scott wants me to do an evil character, he’s always got a bad English accent. [Laughs] Any time my character goes evil, he becomes sort of British.

Any favorite guests you’ve worked with?

Weird Al: Gosh, I love them all. Paul F. Tompkins is always fun. His Andrew Lloyd Webber character, Cake Boss, everything he does. And Andy Daly as well. They’re so versatile and so amazing at improv. That’s the one thing I was a little nervous about because I’ve never been super confident with my improv skills. But Comedy Bang! Bang!, particularly the TV version, is good for that because it’s all heavily edited. So it kind of gives me permission to try out whatever comes to my mind, so if it really sucks, they’re not gonna use it. [Laughs]

Scott Aukerman Weird Al

Your upcoming tour is a continuation of your Mandatory Fun tour from last year. Any new elements to the show?

Weird Al: Well, it is the same tour, so it’s not that much different. I might freshen some video a little bit. I’m hoping to use a bit or two from the current season of Comedy Bang! Bang! and slip that into the show somewhere.

The tour starts June 3rd in St. Petersburg, Florida and ends September 24th at Radio City Music Hall. How do you keep up the pace? 

Weird Al: It’s just a mindset. I’m really only working for two hours a day, so I basically just save up my energy for the show. I relax, surf online, watch satellite TV, read a book, rest my voice, and then give it all I got when I’m onstage.

Looking back at your vast song catalog, was there ever a parody that came to you immediately upon hearing the song?

Weird Al: Yeah, that’s happened a few times. More often than not, I have to think about it and analytically work out all the variations on a theme that I can and pick out the one with the most potential. But there’s been a few times where the idea came to me spontaneously. I think the first time I saw Michael Jackson’s “Bad” video, before it was even over, I thought, “Oh! I gotta do ‘Fat’! Super-plus-sized actors trying to get through a turnstile on a subway! I gotta do that!”

Do you have a favorite of your many hilarious videos?

Weird Al: Oh boy, it’s hard to say. “White and Nerdy” has been my biggest hit and that was a really fun video to do. But in terms of making a video, “Tacky” was really fun to do because it was so easy and I got to work with amazing people like Jack Black, Margaret Cho, Kristen Schaal, Eric Stonestreet, and Aisha Tyler. And we knocked it out in a couple of hours. We were having so much fun while making it, I kinda wish we weren’t so efficient and professional. [Laughs] I could’ve done that all night.

Was it filmed all in one take or was it stitched together?

Weird Al: That was all one take. Some people say, “Oh, I see where the edit is,” but it was all one shot. We did a total of six takes, and I think four of those takes were usable, but the last one was the best.

And you were directing while performing?

Weird Al: I directed that one, yeah. We location scouted and found a building in downtown LA that I thought was good for the shoot. I’ve since seen that building in a lot of other movies and TV shows — I think it was used in The Big Lebowski and a few others. It was difficult because I start the video in one set of clothes and I also end the video in a completely different set of clothes. So while the cameras were off me, because there’s only one elevator in the building, I had to run down five flights of stairs, quickly change my clothes, and hit my mark for the end. And after the take, we’d all just watch what we did, and say, “OK, let’s do it again.”

Is there a director you’d love to work with in the future?

Weird Al: Oh gosh, yeah, but I mean, music videos are notoriously low-budget so that’s why I end up directing them myself. [Laughs] But I’d love to be in a movie codirected by Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino.

Do you have a particular genre of music that you love parodying the most? Or is it more of the moment and different for each song?

Weird Al: It doesn’t necessarily revolve around personal taste so much. It really depends more on the song than the genre. But I found rap songs tend to lend themselves to parody, mostly because there’s a lot of words to play with. A lot of pop songs are repetitive, and that’s sometimes been an issue. With rap, there’s no shortage of syllables to mess around with.

Given that you’ve been so prolific and done so much, is there any type of art left that you’d like to dip your toe in? Dramatic acting, perhaps?

Weird Al: Well, if Spielberg and Tarantino want me for their film, I wouldn’t want to turn them down. But there’s no burning desire to do drama. I love doing comedy and feel comfortable doing that. Writing a musical might be something I do down the line. I don’t know when but I might take a shot at something in that area. Other than that, I’ve done pretty much all I wanted to do in my life so far. A lot of it not successfully. [Laughs] But I took a stab at it and feel gratified by that.

You’ve had such a eclectic career in music and comedy. What do you attribute your longevity to?

Weird Al: [Laughs] I don’t know what I’d attribute the longevity to. There’s a modicum of talent, but it’s mostly because I surround myself with very talented people. I’ve got a great support group, I’ve got the same band since the early ’80s, and I’ve worked with the same people for decades. And I got a very loyal fan base and I love what I do. And somehow I’ve been very lucky and it’s worked out so far.

Watch “Weird Al” in an episode from the new season of Comedy Bang! Bang! right now, before the season premiere on Friday June 3rd at 11P.

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