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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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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Byrning Down the House

Everything You Need to Know About the Film That Inspired “Final Transmission”

Documentary Now! pays tribute to "Stop Making Sense" this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Cinecom/courtesy Everett Collection

This week Documentary Now! is with the band. For everyone who’s ever wanted to be a roadie without leaving the couch, “Final Transmission” pulls back the curtain on experimental rock group Test Pattern’s final concert. Before you tune in Wednesday at 10P on IFC, plug your amp into this guide for Stop Making Sense, the acclaimed 1984 Talking Heads concert documentary.

Put on Your Dancing Shoes

Hailed as one of the best concert films ever created, director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) captured the energy and eccentricities of a band known for pushing the limits of music and performance.

Make an Entrance

Lead singer David Byrne treats the concert like a story: He enters an empty stage with a boom box and sings the first song on the setlist solo, then welcomes the other members of the group to the stage one song at a time.

Steal the Spotlight

David Byrne Dancing
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Always a physical performer, Byrne infuses the stage and the film with contagious joy — jogging in place, dancing with lamps, and generally carrying the show’s high energy on his shoulders.

Suit Yourself

Byrne makes a splash in his “big suit,” a boxy business suit that grows with each song until he looks like a boy who raided his father’s closet. Don’t overthink it; on the DVD, the singer explains, “Music is very physical, and often the body understands it before the head.”

View from the Front Row

Stop Making Sense Band On Stage
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Demme (who also helmed 1987’s Swimming to Cambodia, the inspiration for this season’s Documentary Now! episode “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”) films the show by putting viewers in the audience’s shoes. The camera rarely shows the crowd and never cuts to interviews or talking heads — except the ones onstage.

Let’s Get Digital

Tina Weymouth Keyboard
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Stop Making Sense isn’t just a good time — it’s also the first rock movie to be recorded entirely using digital audio techniques. The sound holds up more than 30 years later.

Out of Pocket

Talk about investing in your art: Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz told Rolling Stone that the members of the band “basically put [their] life savings” into the movie, and they didn’t regret it.

Catch Documentary Now!’s tribute to Stop Making Sense when “Final Transmission” premieres Wednesday, October 12 at 10P on IFC.

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