Where is Kelly McGillis now? Why she retired

Kelly McGillis

Kelly McGillis was already a Golden Globe-nominated actress when she starred as Charlie in Top Gun. However, it was the Top Gun that elevated her to global stardom. Kelly was bound to attract attention given her role as Maverick’s love interest, but she proved she was a star in her own right, earning a 7-minute standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival in 1985. 

McGillis went on to star in many film, television, and stage productions, but she never eclipsed her performance in Top Gun. Therefore, Kelly was widely expected to reprise her role in Top Gun: Maverick, but she didn’t. 

Kelly McGillis retired from acting to spend time with her family

Kelly McGillis chose family over her career. She stepped back from acting to spend time with her two daughters – Kelsey and Sonora – whom she welcomed alongside her ex-husband Fred Tillman. McGillis told Entertainment Tonight:

“I think just my priorities in life changed. It wasn’t like a major decision that I made to leave, it was just that other things became more important. I love acting, I love what I do, I love doing theater, but I don’t know. To me, my relationships to other people became far more important than my relationship to fame.”

When asked whether she talks to her co-stars, Kelly said she doesn’t ‘really keep in touch with anybody’. Kelly also said she refuses to change who she is to fit in with the Hollywood mold. She explained:

“I’m old, and I’m fat, and I look age-appropriate for what my age is. And that is not what that whole scene is about. To me, I’d much rather feel absolutely in my skin and who I am at my age as opposed to placing a value on all that other stuff.”

McGillis probably wouldn’t have starred in the Top Gun sequel even if she resembled the bombshell that stole our hearts three decades ago. Director Joseph Kosinski told Insider that the filmmakers’ goal wasn’t to bring back everybody from the first film – the stars they brought back had to fit into the narrative. 

Kosinski explained: “Those weren’t stories that we were throwing around. I didn’t want every story line to always be looking backwards. It was important to introduce some new characters.”

Kelly also stepped back from acting to help alcoholics and drug addicts at a rehab center. McGillis struggled with alcoholism throughout her career, so she resonated with the struggles of addicts. McGillis told The Oklahoman:

“I find it’s just an amazing gift to see people come in hopeless and to be given some hope and some desire to live, and some tools for hopefully changing their lives, their children’s lives, their families lives.”