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What Happened To Kelly McGillis? What She’s Doing Now

What Happened To Kelly McGillis? What She’s Doing Now

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Kelly McGillis was just 29 when she starred in 1986’s Top Gun. She was at the top of her game with a nomination for a Golden Globe for Witness already under her belt.

But after her hot streak in the 80s, McGillis would virtually disappear from the spotlight. She was noticeably absent from 2022’s Top Gun: Maverick.

Did something happen to McGillis to force her to step away from a lustrous Hollywood career? Or did she make a conscious decision to take on fewer and fewer leading roles?

Find out the truth about what happened to Kelly McGillis and what she’s up to today.

What Happened To Kelly McGillis From Top Gun?

Kelly McGillis took a break from acting in the early 2000s but has since returned to smaller roles in film and television.

Kelly McGillis’ Early Career

McGillis made a splash in the mid-80s in three very successful movies: Witness, Top Gun, and The Accused. She earned a Golden Globe nomination for her role as Rachel Lapp in Witness.

Top Gun was the most profitable movies of 1986, ranking around $180 million domestically on a $15 million budget. And the National Review Board chose The Accused as one of the top ten best movies of 1988.

That’s quite a string of successes! But while she continued to act for another fifteen years or so, Kelly McGillis never found the same sort of stardom as her co-stars.

Kelly McGillis Took A Break From Acting

In fact, from 2001 to 2006, McGillis stopped acting on screen entirely. Some of this had to do with a bad experience on the set of 1989’s Cat Chaser, as well as a disillusionment with big-budget productions.

Kelly McGillis in 1990 posing in a hotel lobby
Kelly McGillis in 1990. Credit: Vicki L. Miller /

She got married that same year and after filming became pregnant with her first daughter. She decided to become “more selective” with her projects so she could spend time with her family.

Kelly McGillis Was Attacked In Her Home

In the 90s, Kelly McGillis moved to Key West, but moved to New Jersey in the 2000s. There, she worked at a drug rehabilitation clinic.

In 2012, she bought a home in Hendersonville, North Carolina. But only four years after moving in, an intruder attacked McGillis in her home.

Laurence Marie Dorn ambushed McGillis in her home, but thankfully wasn’t able to cause much physical harm to the actress. McGillis escaped the attack and flagged down a driver who was able to call 911.

The court charged Dorn with second-degree burglary, assault and battery, misdemeanor larceny and stalking, and interference with emergency communication.

In 2017, they found Dorn guilty of misdemeanor breaking and entering. Thankfully, Kelly McGillis is alive and well after the attack and still lives in Hendersonville.

Why Was Kelly McGillis Not In The New Top Gun?

Kelly McGillis believes the filmmakers didn’t ask her back for Top Gun: Maverick because of her appearance. The director said he didn’t want to return to too many old storylines.

McGillis was never even approached to be in the new Top Gun movie, even though she was the female lead in the original.

In a 2019 interview with Entertainment Tonight, McGillis joked that “I’m old and I’m fat, and I look age-appropriate for what my age is, and that is not what [the new Top Gun] is about.”

Director Joseph Kosinski confirmed that they didn’t consider either McGillis or Meg Ryan for the Top Gun: Maverick sequel.

However, he said his reasoning had to do with plot, not appearance. In an interview with Insider, Kosinski said that “[McGillis’s and Ryan’s] weren’t stories that we were throwing around.”

The director of Top Gun: Maverick, went on to say that he “didn’t want every storyline to always be looking backwards.”

The movie does look back on two of the male characters from the original, though. Val Kilmer’s “Iceman” and Meg Ryan’s now-grown son, played by Miles Teller, both returned to the new movie.

In addition, one of the “new” characters Kosinski introduced was actually someone mentioned, although never seen, in the original movie: Penny Benjamin.

Jennifer Connelly plays Penny as the new love interest in Top Gun: Maverick. So, most of the plot of Top Gun: Maverick does indeed look back at the old film.

It’s also interesting to note that Connelly is almost 10 years younger than Meg Ryan and 13 years younger than McGillis.

But McGillis doesn’t mind that the role of Tom Cruise’s love interest has been passed on. When asked about Connelly stepping in, McGillis said she was “so glad that she got that opportunity. I’m glad for her.”

Kelly McGillis and Tom Cruise in Top Gun 1

What’s Kelly McGillis Doing Now?

Kelly McGillis is still acting in small roles on TV and in movies but is very selective about her parts.

The actress returned to the small screen in the made-for-TV movie Black Widower in 2006.

She appeared on popular shows like The L Word and Z Nation. Her most recent role was an uncredited role on the true-crime series Dirty John in 2020.

She was also teaching at the Asheville School of Film up until at least 2016. It appears she’s stepped away from teaching in recent years but continues to take small, “character-actress” parts in both movies and on TV.

McGillis says she doesn’t mind being out of the spotlight.

“My goal is to be like Jessica Tandy,” she told Yahoo! Movies in 2013. “[I want to be] an older woman and really just secure in myself and I don’t want to have to try to be 30 for the rest of my life.”

McGillis still likes acting, but she takes roles based on if they’re interesting and if they’ll take her too far from home.

“That is important to me, I like being home. I like my life a lot.”