While Val Kilmer led the “party boys,” Tom Cruise maintained “laser-like focus” in order to become the “greatest action hero in the history of film” -- pausing to undergo a scavenger hunt for champagne!
Kilmer portrayed Iceman while Cruise played his rival, Maverick, in the film. In the excerpt, Kilmer recounts how the atmosphere off-screen was a reflection of the characters’ rivalry, with actors breaking off into “two camps -- mine and Tom’s.”
“We were the party boys,” Kilmer says about his clan. “Every night we’d hit the San Diego nightlife. Once we were stuck at an intersection where all four lights were red. I peeled out, spinning and burning rubber in a perfect circle, showing off. Until we cozied right up to a cop car. He looked at me like, ‘Really, dude?’”
“He didn’t even bother turning on his lights,” Kilmer continues. “I just pulled over and begged my drunken passengers, in my firm Iceman voice, to sit up straight and to let me do all the talking. Since I hadn’t been drinking, I was able to quickly rely on my actor’s instinct.”
Kilmer says he was wished well and sent on his way by the officer during the outing, just another wild night out.
He notes that Cruise, on the other hand, remained “laser-focused” on the job at hand.
“Tom refrained from our revelry, with good reason,” he recalls. “From day one, he was laser-focused on a singular goal: to become the greatest action hero in the history of film. He was up nights learning lines; he spent every waking hour perfecting his stunts. His dedication was admirable. Of course, even more admirable is the fact that he achieved his goal.”