Kelly McGillis was 29 years old when she starred in the 1986 action film Top Gun, opposite Tom Cruise. She played the role of Charlotte “Charlie” Blackwood, a civilian astrophysicist and instructor at the United States Navy’s Fighter Weapons School, also known as Top Gun. In this article, we will explore more about Kelly McGillis’ life, career, and why she did not return for the sequel, Top Gun: Maverick.
Who is Kelly McGillis?
Kelly McGillis is an American actress who has appeared in several films, television shows, and stage productions. She is best known for her roles in Witness (1985), Top Gun (1986), The Accused (1988), and The Innkeepers (2011).
Kelly Ann McGillis was born on July 9, 1957, in Newport Beach, California. She is the eldest of three daughters of Virginia Joan (née Snell), a homemaker, and Donald Manson McGillis, a physician. She has English, Welsh, Scots-Irish, and German ancestry. She attended Newport Harbor High School and dropped out in 1975 to pursue an acting career. She moved to New York City and studied at the Juilliard School, where she graduated in 1983.
Career in film, television, and stage
Kelly McGillis made her film debut in Reuben, Reuben (1983), but her breakthrough role was that of Rachel Lapp, an Amish widow who falls in love with a Philadelphia detective (Harrison Ford) in Witness (1985). She received Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations for her performance. She then starred as Charlie in Top Gun (1986), one of the highest-grossing films of the year. She played a prosecutor who defends a rape victim (Jodie Foster) in The Accused (1988), which earned Foster an Academy Award.
McGillis continued to work in films such as The House on Carroll Street (1988), Cat Chaser (1989), The Babe (1992), and North (1994). She also appeared in several made-for-TV movies and miniseries. She took a break from acting in the late 1990s and early 2000s to focus on her family and restaurant business in Florida. She returned to acting in films such as Stake Land (2010), The Innkeepers (2011), and We Are What We Are (2013). She also starred in horror films such as Mother of All Secrets (2018) and The Children Act (2018).
McGillis has also been active in theater, appearing in various Shakespeare plays such as The Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She played the title role in Hedda Gabler on Broadway in 1994. She also toured with The Graduate, playing Mrs. Robinson.
Kelly McGillis has been married three times. Her first husband was Boyd Black, whom she married in 1979 and divorced in 1981. Her second husband was Fred Tillman, a pilot and businessman, whom she married in 1989 and divorced in 2002. They have two daughters: Kelsey Lauren Tillman (born 1990) and Sonora Ashley Tillman (born 1993). Her third husband was Melanie Leis, a sales executive whom she met in 2000 when Leis was a bartender at her restaurant. They had a civil union ceremony in Vermont in 2009 and separated in 2011.
McGillis came out as a lesbian in 2009 after being assaulted by an intruder at her home. She said that she had struggled with her sexuality for many years and had dated both men and women before realizing that she was gay. She also revealed that she had been raped by two men when she was 12 years old and again by another man when she was studying at Juilliard.
Top Gun: Kelly McGillis’ Age and Character
Kelly McGillis was 29 years old when she played Charlie in Top Gun, which was released on May 16, 1986. Charlie was a civilian contractor who taught at the Top Gun school at Naval Air Station Miramar in San Diego, California. She was an expert on Soviet aircraft and tactics and had a PhD in astrophysics from Stanford University. She was also the love interest of Maverick (Tom Cruise), the main protagonist of the film.
How old was she during the first Top Gun movie
Kelly McGillis was born on July 9, 1957. The filming of Top Gun began on May 13, 1985, and ended on September 8, 1985. Therefore, Kelly McGillis was 28 years old when the filming started and turned 29 during the production.
Her role as “Charlie”
Charlie was one of the few female characters in Top Gun, which was dominated by male pilots and instructors. She was a smart, confident, and independent woman who challenged Maverick’s ego and skills. She was also attracted to him and had a romantic relationship with him throughout the film. She supported him when he lost his best friend and wingman, Goose (Anthony Edwards), in a training accident. She also encouraged him to overcome his fear of flying and return to active duty.
Charlie was a popular and influential character in the film, as she represented a strong and successful woman in a male-dominated field. She also had a memorable wardrobe, which included a white dress, a leather jacket, and sunglasses. She was also the inspiration for the hit song “Take My Breath Away” by Berlin, which won an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
Why she was not in Top Gun 2
Kelly McGillis did not reprise her role as Charlie in Top Gun: Maverick, the sequel to Top Gun, which was released on May 27, 2022. The reason for her absence was not explained in the film, but it was implied that she and Maverick had broken up sometime after the events of the first film. Maverick had a new love interest in the sequel, Penny Benjamin (Jennifer Connelly), who was the widow of his former flight instructor and friend, Viper (Tom Skerritt).
McGillis said that she was not asked to return for the sequel and that she was not interested in doing so anyway. She said that she had moved on from Hollywood and that she did not fit the mold of what a movie star should look like. She said that she had aged naturally and that she did not want to undergo plastic surgery or other cosmetic procedures to look younger. She also said that she was happy with her life and that she did not need to be in the spotlight.
Personal Life Update
Kelly McGillis has been living a low-profile life away from Hollywood. She resides in Hendersonville, North Carolina, where she teaches acting at the New York Studio for Stage and Screen (NYS3). She also works as an advocate for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.
Home invasion in 2016
In June 2016, Kelly McGillis was attacked by an intruder at her home in North Carolina. She said that she came home from church and found a woman inside her house who assaulted her physically and verbally. She managed to escape and call 911. The intruder was identified as Laurence Marie Dorn, who was arrested and charged with burglary, assault, stalking, and other offenses. McGillis said that she was traumatized by the incident and that she obtained a concealed carry permit and bought a gun for self-defense.
Recent projects and appearances
Kelly McGillis has not appeared in any major film or television projects since 2018. Her last film role was in Mother of All Secrets (2018), a thriller about a pregnant woman who uncovers dark secrets about her fiancé’s family. Her last television role was in The Children Act (2018), a drama about a judge who must decide whether to force a teenage boy to undergo a blood transfusion against his religious beliefs.
McGillis has made some public appearances in recent years, mostly related to Top Gun. In 2019, she attended the Top Gun: Maverick panel at San Diego Comic-Con, where she reunited with some of her co-stars from the original film. In 2020, she participated in a virtual reunion with Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer, Anthony Edwards, Rick Rossovich, Barry Tubb, Tim Robbins, Clarence Gilyard Jr., Michael Ironside, John Stockwell, Whip Hubley, James Tolkan, Adrian Pasdar, Meg Ryan, Kenny Loggins, Harold Faltermeyer, Jerry Bruckheimer, Tony Scott’s family, and Joseph Kosinski. The reunion was hosted by Conan O’Brien and aired on TBS as part of the network’s Top Gun Week.
Kelly McGillis is an actress who rose to fame with her role as Charlie in Top Gun (1986). She was 29 years old when she starred in the film opposite Tom Cruise. She did not return for the sequel, Top Gun: Maverick (2022), as she had moved on from Hollywood and preferred to live a quiet life. She is still active in theater and teaching acting. She is also an advocate for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.
Kelly McGillis is an example of a woman who has followed her own path and stayed true to herself. She has overcome many challenges and hardships in her life and has remained resilient and courageous. She is an inspiration to many fans who admire her talent, beauty, and strength.