Behind The Ray-Ban’s: A Few Minutes with Rick Rossovich and the Legacy of ‘Top Gun’

Posted in Blu-Ray/DVD, Interviews, Movies by - May 13, 2021
Behind The Ray-Ban’s: A Few Minutes with Rick Rossovich and the Legacy of ‘Top Gun’

It’s a unique experience to be a part of something so iconic so early on in one’s career…

In the summer of 1986, Top Gun hit theatres with its story of fast planes and faster pilots who need to learn just as much on the ground as they do in the air in order to truly become “Top Gun” fighter aces at the Navy’s Fighter Weapons School.  And with its unique blend of action and drama it soared the heights of nearly $360 Million at the world wide box office (along with countless more on VHS, DVD, Blu-Ray and now 4K) and has become not only a much beloved piece of cinema to generations of fans but it is widely marked as the genuine coming out party for Tom Cruise into Hollywood super stardom.

That being said, Tom wasn’t alone as the cast was filled with a plethora of young and good looking actors looking to make their mark on the Silver Screen.  With the cast being filled with the likes of Val Kilmer, Anthony Edwards, John Stockwell, Clarence Gilyard Jr, Adrian Pasdar, Tim Robbins and Meg Ryan all having gone on to varying degrees of success throughout their careers, there’s no doubt that Top Gun was a hit maker for pretty well all involved…but there’s one name we’ve left out.

Enter our man Slider, wingman for Val Kilmer’s Iceman played by Rick Rossovich who you’d remember before this in things like The Terminator and after this in films like Roxanne and Navy Seals.

We got the distinct pleasure to sit down with Rick to talk about how he got involved in this film and believe it or not he almost fluked into the role of Slider as he initially read for another part.  This is what he had to say when he gets into his personal story around Top Gun

You know it was pretty simple really.  I was brought in one day to sit and talk with director Tony Scott in his office one day, no big reading or anything, just to sit around and chat about some shared experiences as he had grown up with a director I had worked with a couple of years previously; Franc Rodham on “The Lords of Discipline”.  It was also for Paramount so I had a little bit of familiarity with the studio that gave me a leg up, and it wasn’t even really a lot that I had to read, it was just more about seeing if we were all simpatico and a fit.  I initially got cast as “Cougar” and then weeks later we had our first read through and then and there they decided that they wanted me to play “Slider” instead which was a big jump up for me because I went from a ‘nice’ character to one that was a lot more fleshed out and played a bigger part in the story.  Obviously John Stockwell who played “Cougar” did a great job but I was really stoked to be a part of the whole ride of the film.

Top Gun is a movie that is filled with moments and any actor worth their salt wants to be a part of not just a film that will be remembered but a scene that will always be referenced back to them.  The ‘Volleyball Scene’ is unquestionably that in this film and I asked Rick if this scene is something that ultimately haunts him or is something that he can wear as a badge of honor to this day.  He had this to say…

I’ll tell you this much…that scene is pretty much the reason I’ve stayed in shape to this day 35 years later (Laughs).  I’m a pretty avid gardener now so I’ve avoided the beer gut but I was really into body building when I was younger and really idolized Arnold Schwarzenegger so as you can imagine getting to work with him in “The Terminator” was such a thrill.  Ultimately I was always pretty conscious of using my physique as one of my tools as an actor and I knew that scene would allow me to just be able to rip off my shirt and let it rip.  Plus Tom (Cruise) is a pretty competitive guy so he’d be in shape and going all out and Val was really going for it as well, Tony almost just sat back and we played with it.  Ultimately even when people are trying to make something else out of that scene, I’m pretty proud of it because we were having a lot of fun right in the moment.

Ultimately, Rick won’t be picking up the mantle of “Slider” again in Top Gun: Maverick but he’s pretty stoked for the final product and really understands the unique nature of bringing this world and this character which made Tom Cruise a household name.  He’s looking forward to the final product and expects it to be as layered and satisfying as the original film, but when I asked him if he was disappointed and maybe had the itch to pick up the Ray-Ban’s again he had this to say…

(Laughs) Slider is more than happy right now; he retired from the military and became a commercial airline pilot! (Laughs)  After 30 years of flying the LA to London route he’s more than happy to kick up his feet and read the paper or have a few beers with some old friends (Laughs)

Slider and Rick are actually pretty similar guys, for all of his iconic and memorable roles that he’s had, Rick actually semi-retired from Hollywood and walked away from the game, I had to ask him what the secret was…

 

 

You know…I’ve been married 38 years, never had to deal with any kind of substance abuse issues in my life and I hit a point where I was just really satisfied because I had been in some of the biggest movies of the 1980’s, I got to be in one of the biggest TV shows of the 1990s and I just felt like I was stealing time from myself and more importantly from my kids.  We were living in Ojai in California on this beautiful piece of land and the call from my family and my garden was just too strong.  Hollywood is a transitory business and I found a way to gracefully bow out somewhat, I found a second passion in real estate and developing properties and I always knew that it was something that I’d either transition out of or be transitioned out of…that being said, I’m still a pretty young guy if anyone has any interesting scripts they want to send me, I’ll glad let you know what I think! (Laughs)

Slider may not get back in the cockpit anytime soon, but Top Gun isn’t going anywhere in film history lore.

 

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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