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The longest gaps between actors reprising their most famous roles

From Tom Cruise returning as Maverick to Harrison Ford picking up the whip once again

BEETLEJUICE -1987 MICHAEL KEATON
Michael Keaton will return for Beetlejuice 2 in 2024. (Alamy)

What was once old is new again. Tom Cruise is Maverick. Harrison Ford is Indiana Jones. Michael Keaton is Batman.

All three actors originally took up these roles in the 1980s and became cultural icons as a result but after decades and in spite of advancing age, have returned to times past for another adventure.

As Hollywood becomes increasingly focussed on sequels, spin-offs and the development of already known names, it's going to become even more commonplace for studios to coax stars into classic roles – after all, there was an entire Spider-Man movie about it.

Read more: Michael Keaton's return at Batman hailed by critics

With the news that Keaton is returning to for a sequel the 1988 cult classic Beetlejuice as well as returning as Batman for The Flash over three decades since he last played either role, we thought we'd look at some of the stars who returned to their most iconic roles after the longest time.

Read on to see who took the longest time out for playing the same character.

Tom Cruise as Maverick: 36 years

Tom Cruise was 24 when he starred as ace pilot Maverick in 1986's Top Gun, a role he picks up 36 years later in Top Gun: Maverick. (Paramount)
Tom Cruise was 24 when he starred as ace pilot Maverick in 1986's Top Gun, a role he picks up 36 years later in Top Gun: Maverick. (Paramount)

Top Gun in 1986 was a cultural phenomenon. Top Gun: Maverick in 2022 was a cultural phenomenon. Tom Cruise had barely aged a day in the 36 years between the first film and the second.

The film picked up a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars and was widely credited for helping resurrect the cinema going experience after the COVID-19 pandemic, so it's fair to say Cruise's return to the hot seat was a successful one.

Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones: 18 years

Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Paramount)
Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Paramount)

Harrison Ford did also return to play Han Solo for the Star Wars sequel trilogy (and Deckard in Blade Runner 2049) but he's returned twice to play Indiana Jones.

After The Last Crusade appeared to be the end for the swashbuckling archeologist, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas brought Indy and his whip back for 2008's not very well received Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, 18 years after Ford had last played Jones.

American actor Harrison Ford as the eponymous archaeologist in a scene from the film 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade', 1989. Here he traces the Cross of Coronado to a Portuguese vessel.  (Photo by Murray Close/Getty Images)
Harrison Ford in 1989's Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. (Murray Close/Getty Images)

The actor is now 80 but will reprise the legendary role in the upcoming Dial of Destiny after another 16 years has passed.

Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker: 32 years

Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi'. (Credit: Disney/Lucasfilm)
Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in 2017's Star Wars: The Last Jedi. (Disney/Lucasfilm)
American actor Mark Hamill on the set of Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi directed by Welsh Richard Marquand. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
Mark Hamill on the set of Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi directed by Welsh Richard Marquand. (Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

Over 30 years passed between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. That was a lot of years without Star Wars protagonist Luke Skywalker. And it was an even longer wait for him to say anything given he only has a cameo in the first of the sequel trilogy.

But for fans, it was great to see Hamill again.

Michael Keaton as Batman: 31 years

A still from the trailer for The Flash. (Warner Bros.)
Michael Keaton in a still from the trailer for The Flash. (Warner Bros.)

Keaton was originally supposed to return as Batman for Batgirl before Warner Bros axed the film in post-production so his official return as the caped crusader is in the soon to be released The Flash.

Keaton last played Batman in 1992's Batman Returns and has been an integral focus of the marketing campaign though it remains to be seen just how much he is in the film.

Sylvester Stallone as Rocky: 16 years

Fans cheer as Sylvester Stallone, center, acts in a scene being shot for the film
Sylvester Stallone as Rocky. (AP Photo)

The mid-00s saw Sylvester Stallone bring back his two most famous characters in Rocky and Rambo but the slurring pugilist was always the one that resonated greater with audiences and the actor himself.

Last seen in the poorly received Rocky V in 1990, Stallone laced up the gloves once again in 2006 for the poignant Rocky Balboa. He has continued to play the character in the first two Creed films.

Paul Newman as Fast Eddie: 25 years

PAUL NEWMAN, THE COLOR OF MONEY, 1986
Paul Newman in The Color of Money. (Alamy)
American actor Paul Newman on the set of The Hustler, directed by Robert Rossen. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
Paul Newman on the set of 1961's The Hustler, directed by Robert Rossen. (Corbis via Getty Images)

The Hustler is a classic of 60s cinema but never a film you'd think would need a sequel nearly 30 years later.

Directed by Martin Scorsese and also starring Cruise and a young Forest Whitaker, The Color of Money saw Paul Newman return as pool shark Fast Eddie and in the process picking up his first Academy Award at the seventh attempt.

Sam Neill as Dr Alan Grant: 21 years

JURASSIC WORLD DOMINION (2022) SAM NEILL  COLIN TREVORROW (DIR)  UNIVERSAL PICTURES/MOVIESTORE COLLECTION
Sam Neill as Dr Alan Grant. (Alamy)
Sam Neill is confronted by three dinosaurs in a scene from the film 'Jurassic Park III', 2001. (Photo by Universal/Getty Images)
Sam Neill is confronted by three dinosaurs in a scene from the film Jurassic Park III 2001. (Universal/Getty Images)

Elevated to worldwide star status with the release of Jurassic Park in 1993, Sam Neill elected not to return for the The Lost World, the first Jurassic sequel but starred in 2001's Jurassic Park III.

The New Zealander did not initially come back for the 2015 Jurassic World reboot until last year's instalment that saw him reunited with original co-stars Jeff Goldblum and Laura Dern for the first time in 30 years.

Dolph Lundgren as Ivan Drago: 33 years

RELEASE DATE: November 27, 1985  MOVIE TITLE: Rocky IV  DIRECTOR: Sylvester Stallone  STUDIO: MGM  PLOT: Rocky Balboa, heavyweight champion of the world, is the trainer for Apollo Creed in an exhibition match against Ivan Drago, a ''superman'' boxer from the Soviet Union. When Apollo is killed in the ring by the brutal Drago, Balboa blames himself and promises to avenge his friend's death in the ring  PICTURED: CARL WEATHERS as Apollo Creed and DOLPH LUNDGREN as Ivan Drago  (Credit Image: c MGM/Entertainment Pictures)
Dolph Lundgren as Ivan Drago. (Entertainment Pictures)
Prod DB © Barry Wetcher - Warner Bros. - Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios - New Line Cinema / DR CREED 2 CREED II de Steven Caple Jr. 2018 USA Dolph Lundgren Florian Munteanu. boxe; boxing; boxeur; boxer
Dolph Lundgren and Florian Munteanu in Creed II. (MGM/Alamy)

Rocky IV sent Dolph Lundgren from science genius to global icon as he played Soviet boxer Ivan Drago.

Over 30 years and several collaborations with co-star Sylvester Stallone later, Lundgren and his bleach blonde hair returned to the ongoing boxing franchise and gave the best performance of his career.

Eddie Murphy as Akeem Joffer: 33 years

MURPHY,HALL, COMING TO AMERICA, 1988,
Eddie Murphy in Coming to America. (Alamy)
Arsenio Hall and Eddie Murphy star in COMING 2 AMERICA 
Photo Courtesy of Amazon Studios
Arsenio Hall and Eddie Murphy star in Coming 2 America. (Prime Video)

Coming to America is still the funniest Eddie Murphy has ever been. That's what makes it surprising that the world had to wait over 30 years for a sequel especially given that Murphy's star had since fallen drastically.

Arsenio Hall and James Earl Jones returned with Murphy for the 2021 sequel but the magic wasn't there.

Vin Diesel as Xander Cage: 12 years

VIN DIESEL, XXX, 2002
Vin Diesel in XXX. (Alamy)

In the early 00s, Vin Diesel was weighing up sequel offers to The Fast and the Furious, Pitch Black and XXX. XXX ended up being the one that got neglected and he was replaced by Ice Cube for the sequel but had always made it clear that he would be up for returning to the spy series.

His wish was granted 16 years later in the aptly named Return of Xander Cage that also starred Donnie Yen.

Watch: Beetlejuice 2 has been confirmed by Warner Bros