What Happened to Kelly McGillis? Her Tragic Life Story

“I’m old and I’m fat, and I look age-appropriate for what my age is, and that is not what that whole team is about."

Sarah Kester - Author

Jul. 6 2024, Published 3:00 a.m. ET

Content warning: This article mentions sexual assault.

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When Top Gun: Maverick hit theatres more than 30 years after 1986’s Top Gun, there were many familiar faces. Everyone from Tom Cruise to Val Kilmer reprised their iconic roles in the fighter pilot film.

But one notable person was missing from the sequel: Kelly McGillis. The 66-year-old portrayed the role of Charlotte “Charlie” Blackwood, Tom’s love interest in the original film. In the ‘80s, Kelly was featured in several other blockbuster flicks, such as The Accused.

Sadly, she hasn’t had many successful roles since then. What happened to Kelly McGillis? And why wasn’t she in Top Gun: Maverick?

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Kelly McGillis has overcome terrible tragedies.

On the screen, Kelly was known for playing bombshell beauties who had it all. But off-screen, the actress’s life has been marked by unspeakable tragedies. This includes being mugged at gunpoint when she was studying at Julliard in New York City.

Another time, two men broke into her apartment and took turns sexually assaulting her.

“They kept switching and telling me they were going to beat me until I was dead,” she said in an interview with People.

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“At that point I thought I would die, and I had resigned myself," she added.

Thankfully, the police intervened and the men took off. Both were arrested within a month of the incident. But what happened left Kelly severly traumatized.

“The first few weeks after the incident, I couldn’t eat or sleep. I twitched incessantly,” Kelly told People in a 1988 interview. “I would gasp suddenly without being able to control it.”

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Soon, the events that transpired sent her life into a downward spiral. She began to rely on alcohol, gained weight, and began abusing drugs. Her trust issues with men also impacted several romantic relationships.

Kelly McGillis came out as a lesbian in 2009.

The actress has been married three times. The first was to Boyd Black, a fellow Julliard student, in 1979. The second was to Fred Tillman, a businessman, in 1989. During their short-lived marriage, they had two children: Kelsey and Sonora.

Kelly’s hidden sexuality played a huge role in their divorce, as did Fred stepping out of their marriage. “Deep inside I always knew it wasn’t the truth,” she told the New York Times.

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“I was never dishonest with Fred about my past and history, but it was a big struggle with me.”

After their split, she married Melanie Leis. They were only married for one year but remained together for a while after their divorce. Kelly is reportedly currently single.

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Why wasn’t Kelly McGillis in ‘Top Gun: Maverick’?

In the 2022 blockbuster, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell’s (Tom Cruise) love interest was mysteriously replaced by Penny (Jennifer Connelly).

Neither Tom nor the film’s producers have shared why Kelly isn’t in the film. However, the actress has shared her theory.

“I’m old and I’m fat, and I look age-appropriate for what my age is, and that is not what that whole team is about,” she told Entertainment Tonight.

"I'd much rather feel absolutely secure in my skin and my age than place any value in all that other stuff," she said.

If you need support, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or visit RAINN.org to chat online one-on-one with a support specialist at any time.

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