Jade Small
Jade Small
May 14, 2024 ·  4 min read

Why don’t you hear from Kelly McGillis anymore?

Age shaming has become a trend these days. Even with the number of people trying to preach about how wrong it is, we still hear about it and read about it on a daily basis. Those who went to watch Tom Cruise’s new Top Gun: Maverick movie expected that his love interest from all those years ago would not appear on the screen. However, that has not prevented the disappointment. Kelly McGillis has allowed the curves of life to change her face naturally. Many people have applauded her for accepting these inevitable changes – except for Hollywood.

Kelly McGillis as Charlie Blackwood

In the 1980s, Top Gun became a hit movie. In the opening scene, Tom Cruise, acting as an up-and-coming Navy pilot, flips the finger to a Russian pilot. All the while flying upside down 18 inches above them in mid-flight. This set the scene for the most popular movie of its time. On top of all that, what would a great action movie be without the perfect love interest? In this movie’s case, Tom Cruise’s on-screen crush was played by Kelly McGillis. Her character was the highly intelligent Charlie Blackwood, who was an astrophysicist and flight instructor.

Read: Debra Winger whose performances in the 1980s will live on in our hearts, is amazing at 67 years old

Born on July 9, 1957, in Newport Beach, California, McGillis initially pursued a career in music before discovering her passion for acting. Once her fame was set, the world expected to see much more of her on screen. However, this was simply not the case. She seemed to slip out of the limelight as quickly as she came in.

McGillis was “intimidated” by the fame she received from that role. “I don’t think anything prepared me for what I guess was becoming a household name kind of thing,” McGillis said in an interview with 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 and I didn’t know who I could trust to be my friend anymore.”

Read: Tom Cruise has an unusual clause in all of his movie contracts

Where Did McGillis Go?

At the time the original Top Gun was filmed, Kelly McGillis was compared to Hollywood beauties like Grace Kelly. However, this was not how she saw herself. In 1986, she interviewed with Intelligencer Journal where she said: ”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.” 

What many people are not aware of is that Kelly McGillis suffered a traumatic rape incident. It allegedly occurred while she was a student at Julliard. As a result, Kelly told herself it was a punishment for her choice of sexuality, in other words, being a lesbian. McGillis only came out as gay years after the rumors had already spread. Prior to her big reveal, she sought refuge in and amongst illicit substances and alcohol abuse. This took her down a spiraling route, that presumably resulted in her divorce from her second husband, Fred Tillman.

Kelly McGillis decided to focus her life on what she deemed more important than fame and fortune. She intended to raise her four children as a mother, rather than as an actress. Entertainment Tonight asked her why she left the scene, she replied saying: “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.”

On that same note, she told The Daily Telegraph in 1999 that her children became her priority. This caused her to take a hiatus from acting. “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.”

Omitted from Top Gun

Many Top Gun fans eagerly awaited the release of the latest sequel, Maverick. However, many original actors, including Kelly McGillis, were not seen. When she wasn’t asked to join in on Top Gun: Maverick, McGillis said she assumed it was because of her aged appearance. “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,” she said. “But… 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.”

Keep Reading: ‘Fresh Prince’ star Alfonso Ribeiro shares devastating photo of his daughter 1 day before her 4th birthday


  1. Why you don’t hear from Kelly McGillis anymore.Newsner. February 15, 2023
  2. Why You Haven’t Heard From Kelly McGillis.Nicki Swift. Antonia Georgiou. July 19, 2022
  3. Free to be herself: Kelly McGillis battled booze, drugs, shame before coming out.NY Daily News. Joanna Moloy. May 22, 2011