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The upcoming release of Top Gun: Maverick has fans of the original movie buzzing with excitement. This highly anticipated sequel promises to deliver the same thrilling action that made the first movie such a classic, with Tom Cruise reprising his role as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. However, there is a significant twist that has fans especially intrigued. The filmmakers have somehow managed to bring back the voice of a character many thought was lost forever. In this article, we’ll explore just how they managed to accomplish this feat and what it means for the future of the franchise.
Editor’s note: the following article contains spoilers for Top Gun: Maverick.
While it was speculated that original Top Gun star Val Kilmer would be a part of Top Gun: Maverick, his exact role and how he would appear was kept tightly under wraps. While the star has overcome a battle with throat cancer which has affected his speech, an illness that Kilmer confirmed in 2017, Tom Cruise and Maverick director Joseph Kosinski found a way to include the actor in the film, with his character Tom “Iceman” Kazansky’s story mirroring the star’s real life challenges in a touching and emotional way. Most notably, the creative team found a way to include Kilmer’s voice in the film, something Kilmer lost the use of during treatment.
As a result of rounds of chemotherapy and two tracheotomies — a procedure that allows one to breathe without nose or mouth — Kilmer lost the ability to speak clearly. In 2021, through the use of AI technology, his voice was able to be recreated with archival audio. It’s this very process that allowed Kilmer’s voice to be included in the film, where he gives a small (but heartwarming) speech to his friend and former Top Gun classmate, Maverick (Cruise), after a difficult time training a handful of Top Gun graduates. Kazansky also used a computer to communicate in the film, which Kilmer uses in real life as well.
According to Sonantic, the AI company that worked with Kilmer to recreate his voice, over forty models of his speech were developed for the film. John Flynn, CTO and co-founder of Sonantic, confirmed that “the best, highest-quality, most expressive one [dialogue recording]” was selected for the film, per an interview with Forbes. This work is encouraging, as it created techniques and processes that will be available now for future clients. Audiences who have seen Maverick will know that it easily helped to create one of the film’s most touching moments.
Kilmer gave the following comments previously about AI in voice recreation, which certainly apply to this scenario:
“I’m grateful to the entire team at Sonantic who masterfully restored my voice in a way I’ve never imagined possible. As human beings, the ability to communicate is the core of our existence and the side effects from throat cancer have made it difficult for others to understand me. The chance to narrate my story, in a voice that feels authentic and familiar, is an incredibly special gift.”
It’s truly encouraging that Kilmer, as well as the creative team behind Maverick, found a way for him to be included in the film that was both emotional and authentic. This work by Sonantic is a real game-changer, and can hopefully aid those outside Hollywood who face similar challenges.
Top Gun: Maverick is in theaters now.
In conclusion, the decision of the filmmakers to bring back [SPOILER]’s voice in Top Gun: Maverick was a smart move. It not only upheld the legacy of the original movie but also added more depth and meaning to the story. The inclusion of [SPOILER]’s voice brought a sense of closure for the fans and allowed them to reminisce on the beloved character. The use of technology to bring the character’s voice back was seamless and helped maintain the authenticity of the movie. Overall, Top Gun: Maverick does justice to both its predecessor and its fans by expertly reviving the voice of a beloved character.
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