How Val Kilmer’s voice was recreated using artificial intelligence for ‘Top Gun: Maverick’

It's incredible what technology can do!

“Top Gun: Maverick,” the long-awaited sequel to the iconic 1986 film, has taken off far faster and higher than even old fans might’ve expected. It hit a $160.5 million four-day gross right out of the gate when it premiered last weekend.

One of the reasons for the success of the Tom Cruise film is the nostalgia of seeing stars from the original hit movie – and in the case of Val, -getting to hear him.

As Kilmer so bravely detailed in his 2021 documentary, “Vale,” the actor was diagnosed with throat cancer and has since suffered irreparable throat damage after undergoing a tracheotomy in 2014. He did not reveal his diagnosis until 2017.

Tom Cruise has always been adamant that Kilmer’s participation in the sequel was crucial – as the relationship between their characters was central to the first movie – so the film’s producers employed scientists at London-based tech startup, Sonantic, to craft a computer-generated replica of the 62-year-old actor’s voice to deliver his lines.

The company creates voices that either mimic the human voice or are completely synthetic. For “Maverick,” they used old recordings of Kilmer’s voice to create a completely synthetic voice.

Kilmer himself was extremely satisfied with the results, exclaiming that Sonantic had “masterfully restored my voice in a way I’ve never imagined possible.”