‘Top Gun’ star Rick Rossovich recalls working with Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer: We ‘were like brothers’

Rick Rossovich isn’t surprised that “Top Gun” continues to take audiences on a ride 34 years later.

The actor famously played Ron “Slider” Kerner in the 1986 blockbuster. The action flick, which starred Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer and Kelly McGillis, explored out students at the United States Navy’s elite fighter weapons school compete to be the best. For the first time “Top Gun” is now available on 4K Ultra HD Digital, which features bonus content, as well as new interviews with Cruise, Jerry Bruckheimer and members of the upcoming sequel “Top Gun: Maverick.” 

Rossovich, 62, spoke to Fox News about his time bringing “Top Gun” to life, working with Cruise, 57, and Kilmer, 60, as well as how feels about that volleyball scene.

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Fox News: What’s your favorite memory from filming “Top Gun”?
Rick Rossovich: I guess I think about that trip I had in the jet when I just kind of got strapped. Actually some people sent us some pictures recently of Eva [Rossovich] and I, my wife. And I remember being in that jet and just disappearing away from the landing and takeoff strip.

She was in a Jeep, an open Jeep waving to me as I just disappeared...And a lot of times that kind of, it was so ethereal. I was just floating in space and to fly in the actual F14 was quite a thrill. It was quite an experience that I'll never forget.

Fox News: Looking back, what was your initial impression of Tom Cruise?
Rossovich: Well, I knew Tom before because we've made a movie before, a movie called “Losin' It,” which was directed by Curtis Hanson, terrific director. And it was kind of a teenage romp down to Mexico and I played a Marine. The kids kept coming across which resulted in some hi-jinks, but Tom's a great guy.

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American actor Tom Cruise on the set of 'Top Gun,' directed by Tony Scott. 

American actor Tom Cruise on the set of 'Top Gun,' directed by Tony Scott.  (Photo by Paramount Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

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We got along great… [He’s] a consummate professional, and I really saw him grow as an actor and really proud of what he's done with his career. And he's made a lot of great choices.

Fox News: What about Val Kilmer?
Rossovich: Well, Val and I were like brothers. We kind of made this our task to really bond and it came so naturally. And it's funny because he was playing Iceman. He was playing the prima donna and the guy that everyone loved to hate at the moment. But I was kind of a bridge in a way because of my character. I could fraternize with anybody in the film more or less, but Val was, he was on this pedestal but it worked. And it really drove the narrative in so many ways, all of the subtexts that he gave us as Iceman, really great performance.

Fox News: Val Kilmer, who recently released a memoir, describes how the guys on set would prank each other a lot. And did you ever witness any of that yourself?
Rossovich: Oh yeah, we were always -- that was kind of the chemistry of the day, to one-up each other and always… push each other. And the real pilots that we were surrounded by and the whole Navy family, we took our cues from them.

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 Val Kilmer as Lt. Tom 'Iceman' Kazansky.

 Val Kilmer as Lt. Tom 'Iceman' Kazansky. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

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It was always good-spirited, nothing ever mean. Just the collegial relationships we built. You come together, you don't know each other, you forge this bond and for three or four or five months, it's so intense. And then everyone kind of goes their own way in a fashion, but you never forget those moments. And they're very dear to me.

Fox News: Tom Cruise is known for doing his own stunts and he's expected to do just that in the sequel. Does this surprise you.
Rossovich: No. It’s interesting, did I read correctly that he's going to make some film with Elon Musk and actually go up in a rocket and go out to outer space? (Laughs.) Tom goes all the way. There are no shortcuts for this guy. And that's why the movie “Top Gun: Maverick” is going to probably be so spectacular. He has passion and he's driven and he really knows what he's doing. So I'm looking forward to the film. He's really etched himself into film history.

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Fox News: What do you make of the now-famous volleyball scene when you look at it today? Does it surprise you that it's gotten so much attention over the years?
Rossovich: Not really surprised because I think it was something that was so new and fresh and something that hadn't really been done. And the music of course really drove it. And then you have Tony Scott who was just such an extraordinary visualist. He really just painted a picture. Throughout the entire movie, you can see what, how he would place the camera and his use of light and his use of our sets and whatnot. They were so fantastic.

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Rick Rossovich as Lt. Ron 'Slider' Kerner.

Rick Rossovich as Lt. Ron 'Slider' Kerner. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

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So I'm not surprised really, but I'm surprised that it was just such a little kind of afterthought almost to film because it just took an afternoon and a few hours. And we were just some kids in a sandbox having fun, and I wish it would have lasted longer. We could have done this some more probably. It was a fun time.