The interpretation caught the attention of Kelly McGillis (Newport Beach, California, 1957) since she was a child. After dropping out while she was still in high school, she enrolled at the prestigious Juilliard School of Drama. Like many other actors, at the beginning she earned her living working as a waitress and between casting and casting in 1983 she made her film debut with the comedy Reuben, Reuben alongside Tom Conti.
Right after that, he made the leap to television with Sweet Vengeance until his big break came with Sole Witness (1985) alongside Harrison Ford. She, under the orders of Peter Weir, played a young widow from an Amish community whose son is a witness to a murder. Ford was the detective tasked with investigating the case and protecting the mother and child.
Her work in the film as the innocent Rachel Lapp brought her a Golden Globe nomination for best supporting actress and her name began to be heard among the most prominent producers in Hollywood. One of them, Jerry Bruckheimer, signed her for his next project, Top Gun: idols of the air, a film built for the greater glory of the American army that became a total box office success since its premiere in American theaters on May 16. from 1986.
Under the direction of Tony Scott, she played Charlie Blackwood, the attractive flight instructor who fell in love with the handsome and rebellious Maverick who was brought to life by a Tom Cruise with a leather jacket, dark glasses and a tremendous desire to conquer the world at the controls of a F-14. McGillis, five years older than Tom and eight centimeters taller -she is 1.78m-, had to act somewhat stooped to not clash as a couple in the film.
This second success in her budding career made her a sex symbol, but being recognized on the street didn't go well for her. "She made me more suspicious," she once said. She was about to get into the skin of the tormented Madame de Tourvel of Dangerous Liaisons. However, the all-powerful film critic Pauline Kael convinced director Stephen Frears to go with another emerging blonde: Michelle Pfeiffer.
After appearing with Timothy Hutton in the romantic fantasy Made in Heaven (1987), by Alan Rudolph, and accompanying Jeff Daniels in the intrigue film The House on Carroll Street, McGillis received an interesting and risky proposal based on real events, the of being a young woman who suffers a gang rape in a bar in Accused (1988). A role that she rejected due to a traumatic episode that happened to her at the age of 24.
And it is that in 1982 she was sexually assaulted along with a friend by two men who entered her house armed with knives, a situation that left her traumatized for a long time and plunged her into a spiral of self-destruction with drugs and alcohol involved. Finally, Jodie Foster took on the role of Sarah Tobias, with which she won the Oscar for best actress, and Kelly reserved her lawyer Katherine Murphy, her third character most remembered by the audience.
After the judicial drama of Jonathan Kaplan, he put himself under the baton of Abel Ferrara in the thriller The Cathunter, with Peter Weller as co-star. The shoot was real hell for Kelly. She got on so badly with the filmmaker and Weller that as soon as she finished production she stormed out. “If this is what acting is going to be like, I won't do it. On the last day of shooting, I said: Are you done with me? Yes, she answered. I walked into my trailer, I shaved my head, and I was like, 'Fuck you, I never want to act again,'” she told Independent Woman.
It was then that Kelly decided to gradually withdraw from the film industry to take refuge in some telefilms and plays that were released without pain or glory. In 1989 she married millionaire Fred Tillman. They set up a restaurant business and had two daughters: Kelsey and Sonora. The couple divorced in 2002 and in 2009 Kelly came out by coming out as gay.
The news surprised the public, although in Hollywood his true sexual inclination was an open secret. Tabloids claimed that she had had affairs with Madonna and Jodie Foster. After maintaining a secret relationship with Melanie Leis, one of the workers in the family restaurant, both went through the vicarage in 2010. The love only lasted two more years and in 2012 they separated.
Kelly has been open about her sexuality, saying she started feeling attracted to women at the age of 12. She also confessed that she had a lonely and self-conscious adolescence due to her weight problems. Another of the topics on which the actress has been honest in several interviews is her lack of attachment to fame and her defense of aging gracefully without going under the knife. "I don't think there is anything more beautiful than a woman who carries her age gracefully. I love seeing a woman with all her wrinkles. It's a life that's been lived. swollen".
About to turn 65 on July 9, his physical appearance has changed a lot. In fact, the actress does not appear in Top Gun: Maverick, the successful sequel that she is sweeping theaters. In mid-2019, she already stated that the producers had not contacted her to participate in the Joseph Kosinski film. In her place, the heart of a Cruise character she doesn't spend time for, is slender Jennifer Connelly. "I'm too old, I'm fat, I look my age and that's not what the movie is looking for," McGillis admitted in an interview on Entertainment Tonight.
Since the mid-nineties, her film career has been reduced to appearances in television series - her last job is in Dirty John in 2020 - and series B productions. Away from the spotlight, McGillis lives in North Carolina, where she works as a drama teacher and collaborates in a rehabilitation clinic for women addicted to drugs and alcohol.