Date of Birth : Jul 9th 1957
Kelly McGillis was born in Newport Beach, California to Joan, a homemaker, and Donald McGillis, a general practitioner of medicine. She decided to drop out of high school to pursue a career as an actor and eventually attended Juilliard in Manhattan and Pacific Conservatory of Performing Arts, Santa Monica.
Primarily waiting tables and other petty jobs, McGillis was a novice in acting, only doing a few stage roles when she managed to win a supporting role in the Academy Award nominated film Reuben, Reuben (1983). This led to work on numerous TV projects and a lead role opposite Harrison Ford in the highly acclaimed thriller Witness (1985). This box office hit, directed by Peter Weir got her noticed around Hollywood and movie producers took note of her. One of the producers was Jerry Bruckheimer who cast her in the highly recognized and career breakthrough in McGillis’ career, Charlie Blackwood in Top Gun (1986) which became the highest grossing film of the year.
Ironically, her breakthrough role didn’t help her career in terms of high profile work. She did however managed to play Kathryn Murphy in The Accused (1988) with Jodie Foster whom won an Academy Award for her role, but unfortunately for McGillis she was overlooked for any major nomination. Never interested in being box office gold, McGillis remained loyal to the theater, even after establishing herself in her heyday of the mid to late 1980s, portraying various roles in numerous Shakespearean productions including ‘The Merchant of Venice’, ‘Don Juan’, ‘Twelfth Night’, ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor’, ‘Mourning Becomes Electra’ and ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. In 1994, she scored the title role of Broadway’s ‘Hedda Gabler’ but unfortunately only played for 33 public performances.