What the Hell Happened to Val Kilmer?

2012 San Francisco Film Festival - "The Fourth Dimension" World Premiere

In the 80’s, Val Kilmer was Tom Cruise’s rival both on-screen and off.  Top Gun launched the actor to super stardom and Batman cemented his status at the top of the A-list.  But then, Kilmer’s career spiraled out of control.  Today, the former sex symbol is considered by many to be a bloated tabloid joke and his movies go straight to video.

What the hell happened?

At 12, Kilmer landed his first acting job in a TV commercial for a fast food chain.  He walked off the set because he could not find his motivation.  He told the director he could not pretend to like the hamburgers he was advertising.

At the age of 17, he became the youngest person at the time to be accepted into the Julliard School’s Drama Division. This success followed a personal tragedy.  His brother had recently drowned after an epileptic seizure in a swimming pool.

kilmer - the slab boys

Kilmer began his career as a stage actor.  He turned down a role in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1983 film, The Outsiders due to prior theater obligations.  In 1983, he appeared Off Broadway in “The Slab Boys” with Kevin Bacon and Sean Penn.

MICHELLE PFEIFFER, VAL KILMER

Kilmer transitioned from stage to screen with an ABC Afterschool Special about the dangers of drunk driving titled One Too Many.  And yes, that is a young Michelle Pfeiffer as his co-star.  Kilmer was so taken with Pfieffer that he wrote a book of poems entitled My Eden After Burns that included poems inspired by the future Catwoman.  Pfeiffer was married to the director, Peter Horton, at the time.

I believe a clip is in order.

kilmer - top secret

Kilmer’s first big break came in 1984 when he landed the lead role in the Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker spoof, Top Secret!

Kilmer played an American rock and roll star in the mold of Elvis Presley who gets roped into the world of espionage while touring East Germany.  Kilmer sang all of his own songs and released an album under his character’s name.

The film got mixed reviews and disappointed at the box office.  Top Secret opened at #7 beaten out by both Rhinestone and The Karate Kid.  But over time, Top Secret ! has become a cult film.  While it’s not a classic like Airplane!, it is better than your average spoof with many genuinely funny moments.

Co-director Jim Abrahams, remembered conflicts with Kilmer even at the start of his career. ”We would all butt heads when we couldn’t define a motivation for his character. He wanted to know who Nick Rivers was and why he would say things, and in the context of a parody, you think, ‘Is it really so important?”’

What the Hell Happened to Val Kilmer?

The following year, Kilmer starred in another cult comedy classic, 1985’s Real Genius.

Kilmer played a student at a school for geniuses who is building a laser for his senior project.  Although his character is not the lead, Kilmer steals the show with a manic performance.  He delivers one quotable punchline after another.

Producer, Brian Grazer described Kilmer’s on-set behavior thusly: ”He would just evaporate. No one could find him.”  He went on to say,  ”There’s always a point when I work with him when I vow not to work with him again.”

Director, Martha Coolidge described Kilmer’s on-set behavior:

“Val was the best guy for the part, but not so easy to work with. He was intellectually challenging and erratic, not so surprising since that was the character. It was a big demanding part and he often avoided working by asked a lot of questions and was sometimes late to the set and moody. He was almost in every scene for about 75 days – and I’m sure he was nervous. I’ve learned to give young actors space and discipline, encouragement and pushing when they need it. I like actors with ideas and he had many.”

In spite of mostly positive reviews, Real Genius also disappointed at the box office.  But like Top Secret!, it has gained cult status on video.

Next: Top Gun

Posted on May 5, 2011, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actor and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 368 Comments.

  1. I think he knocked “The Doors” out of the park, ostensibly about a white man wishing he were an Indian and “Thunderheart” the same year coincidentally about an Indian wishing he were white. And don’t forget “The Salton Sea” (2002) which made me wonder for everyone involved’s sanity.

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  2. To Roger, boy you have a simplistic view of Kilmer’s work. First off, Thunder heart was based on a true story about a native american civil revolt. It was released in
    1991. To reduce Jim Morrison’s entire life as a white man who thought he was an Indian really demeans what the Doors contributed to Rock and roll. It was released in 1992. In between that and Salton Sea, you left out Spartan , Heat, Batman, The Saint, Ghost in the Darkness and then summarily dismiss Salton Sea saying everyone’s sanity should be questioned. In there was also Wonderland based on John Holmes, oh and you seemed to have totally overlooked Tombstone both films giving Kilmer high critical acclaim for stunningly depicting actual characters. I think based on your comment that you did not understand Salton Sea and maybe were not even aware that Kilmer has made all these films and more. Perhaps you are a Tom Cruise fan ,am not really sure but you definitely don’t appreciate a fine acting job when you see one. To reduce a thirty something year career to three films is missing something…….And to Lebeau see Salton Sea it is sad, yet darkly comedic and the ensemble cast is great.

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    • He certainly covered Tombstone and The Ghost in the Darkness- I don’t think you flipped through his whole essay.

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      • My response was to Roger L he only mentioned Thunderheart the Doors and then Salton sea. I think there were a few films in between that. I stated to Roger not leBeau. I leave my resonse to Roger as stands.
        And this to Mastro

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    • I don’t want to speak for Roger, but I took his comment to be a simplification of Oliver Stone’s movie rather than Jim Morrison’s life. I took it as a joke. You can watch Stone’s The Doors and take away that it was about a little white boy who wanted to be an Indian. I think there was a good deal of snark intended in that comment.

      The list of movies I need to keep an eye out for keeps growing. I’ll add Salton Sea to that list.

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    • Heavens, Denise, I love Kilmer’s work and both the films I brought up – I was merely pointing out the interesting synchronicity of Indian-related subtexts of Thunderheart and The Doors in the same period, in addition to their own strengths already mentioned.

      And everything related to The Salton Sea is undeniably nuts. That’s what I love about it. ;) Peace.

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  3. Absolutley loved him in Salton Sea, Heat, and of course, Tombstone. Salton Sea was a great surprise and ranks in my top 3 for Val easy.

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    • Thank you Matt, I was beginning to think my years of studying film were wasted and that I was somehow dellusional. Salton Sea was not just a Val flix it was a great story,
      the ensemble cast was brillant and I loved
      How they used the tweeker, black comedy
      To lighten what was a sad story. It was not a mass appeal film for sure but to overlook
      It in the ‘Val is over’ catergory makes me wonder what have they really seen? I still stand by David Mamet’s Spartan and Blind
      Horizon. No, i don’t know Kilmer nor have any vested interest in his succes unlike others on here who claim to speak for him.
      What about the trout farm tour Val?

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    • Another endorsement for Salton Sea!

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  4. Quick! Kick him again before he gets back up!

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  5. Big fan of The Ghost and the Darkness. I never thought Kilmer’s character was unlikable in that film.

    I wonder what that comment is about?

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  6. I don’t think the character he played in Ghost and the Darkness is unsympathetic.
    I think, as I read the film that at first his character doesn’t realize how bad the problem is but straight off, he goes for a lion. Once again you know I liked the film, of course I imagine he and Douglas were great pals off set. At times especially in
    The fireside side you can almost see the tension between them.

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  7. 10 Excruciating Films That Ruined Your Image Of Batman Actors:
    http://whatculture.com/film/10-excruciating-films-ruined-image-batman-actors.php/9

    3. Kilmer Goes Mad – The Island Of Dr Moreau

    The legendary turkey is probably the best example of how not to make a movie: it is wayward, messy, and criminally stupid in places (most of them, in fact,) and while Val Kilmer’s performance is not the worst thing about it by any means, noone emerged from it with too much credibility intact.

    Kilmer was a brilliant Batman – the best in the important opinion of Bob Kane – and though he was moved on for various reasons (mostly because he thought the villains were getting more screen time than himself – ironically a concern that might have saved some face for Batman & Robin if heeded) he could have gone on to be considered a great whose Batman career was cruelly cut short.

    Sadly, films like The Island Of Dr Moreau, which unthinkably followed the triple-headed success of Tombstone, Batman Forever (comparatively and personally) and Heat, made everyone question why exactly Kilmer had ever been so highly praised.

    The Low Point

    The occasional flashes of brilliance – like Kilmer’s mimickry of Marlon Brando – serve only to make the ludicrous low moments even worse.

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    • 10 Excruciating Films That Ruined Your Image Of Batman Actors:
      http://whatculture.com/film/10-excruciating-films-ruined-image-batman-actors.php/4

      8. Kilmer Phones It In For Ironically Titled Bore-Fest – Hard Cash

      It’s incredible to think, in hindsight with this slop fresh in your memory, that Kilmer was ever deemed good enough for Batman, given how little skill or enthusiasm he brings to a role that is clearly beneath him.

      Starring opposite Christian Slater – another former star relegated to this sort of awful dross – Kilmer is an FBI agent on the tail of a reformed (ish) con, who is working as a paramedic (because noone does security checks on people working with heavy-duty, easily-saleable prescription painkillers) and helps a bank robber escape with the money.

      It’s awful, and cements the moment (around 2002) when Kilmer hit the bottom of the pile – though he stuck around for a few more films, he wouldn’t enjoy any kind of success until Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang three years later. Watching this back, it’s ridiculous to think Kilmer is even the same person who starred as Batman some 5 years beforehand.

      The film does unwittingly however win some points for having the only poster of Verne Troyer brandishing a gun while standing on the bonnet of a sinking high security vehicle, about to be run over by a boat emerging from a fireball…

      The Low Point

      The tragic look of resignation behind Kilmer’s eyes.

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  8. 10 Actors Who Completely Wasted Their Careers:
    http://whatculture.com/film/10-actors-completely-wasted-careers.php/6

    6. Val Kilmer

    After strong performances in supporting roles and getting a reputation as a ladies’ man in Hollywood, Val Kilmer was exposed to mass audiences in the 1986 blockbuster Top Gun, and received critical praise for his portrayals of Jim Morrison in The Doors and Doc Holliday in Tombstone.

    It all built to 1995, which was a huge year for Kilmer: not only did he star alongside Robert De Niro and Al Pacino in Heat, but he played Batman in Batman Forever. It doesn’t get any bigger than playing the Caped Crusader, right?

    While it looked like Kilmer dodged a bullet by deciding not to return for the abomination that is 1997′s Batman and Robin, his next film was the box office disaster The Island Of Dr. Moreau, which he actually wasn’t awful in. And that was about the end of that.

    Since then Kilmer has been prolific, but not successful; for every good film he is in (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang), he seems to make a half-dozen bad ones. He appeared in seven movies that were released in 2009 and six that were released the year before, and a number of them were never even in theaters. His increased output also parallels his weight, which has ballooned significantly since his Batman days.

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    • I hate to say this, but, how many times are you going to repeat this particular article about Val Kilmer? I have read this same exact one about him now about 15 times. Something new about him would be nice. If there is any. I love the guy but, nothing new ever comes about him. Give the guy a break.

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      • The article isn’t being repeated. I do very minor updates from time to time. Usually to link to a new article. Sometimes to add new info, pictures or clips. I do intend to update this article to include The Spoils of Babylon and some of his other more recent appearances. But there probably won’t be a completely new article on Kilmer.

        I am perpetually confused by people telling me to give so-and-so a break. What kind of break am I supposed to give my subjects? At best, I give them a gentle ribbing compared to most of the internet.

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        • That’s true.  Normally I like reading the comments and ribbing about him most times, but sometimes I read quite a bit about how much peiple hate this guy.  Not by you really, but some of the comments made about him are really about how bad a person or actor he is. Just saying. lebeau’s

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          • I could be wrong, but I think most of the people posting here have a lot of affection for Kilmer. Even when we give him a hard time, I think it’s largely well-intentioned. I haven’t gone back and reviewed all 300+ comments recently. But it seems like most of the comments come from Kilmer fans. I remember very few people actually hating on him here. Although I have certainly seen the hate on other sites.

            Personally, I’m always glad to see Kilmer pop up in something. I loved seeing him in Spoils of Babylon on IFC last week.

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            • What did you really think about that program? I don’t know, I thought it was very strange. Kind of hard to follow. It almost seems to me that the characters are really horrible actors. It might be the story-line. It just seems “Weird” somehow. Just might be me. I don’t get alot of stuff.

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              • It’s very typical of the Funny or Die style of comedy. If you like Will Ferrell, you’ll probably like the show. If not, you probably won’t. I find it to be funny, but usually not as funny as it thinks it is. Sometimes, they drag out a gag way too long.

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          • Val brought it all on himself Erin. At the end of the day, (and I wish that Val Kilmer’s most ardent fans would finally see this), Val is a primary example (even w/o this particular WTHHT blog to provide evidence) of how a one could sabotage a Hollywood career. I mean, Val went from playing the Caped Crusade to making direct-to-DVD movies w/ 50 Cent!

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  9. The article should be updated with Val’s weight loss added into the mix. And for every negative comment, there are as many positive ones from people who he’s worked with. You totally skip over all the praise he got for films he did. Tombstone and Heat specifically. Nobody forgot about him in Heat. He practically walked out with every scene he was in.

    EG
    MICHAEL APTED:
    director, THUNDERHEART (1992)
    “I went to London to meet him, and he was Jim Morrison with long hair. Later, he came to see me in Los Angeles, and he came in as an FBI agent, with short hair and a suit. What was interesting was that I never met Val Kilmer. I remember seeing him later in Santa Fe and he was very much who he was. But the way he works, which is both intriguing and can be slightly difficult for others, is that he is that role.”

    JOHN FRANKENHEIMER:
    director, THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU (1996)
    “He is wonderful in the movie. He is a very talented actor.”

    GEORGE COSMATOS: director, TOMBSTONE (1993)
    “Kilmer’s mouth and eyes rarely convey the same emotion at the same time. We bounced ideas off each other. One [Kilmer had] was whistling on the way to the OK Corral. I think each director has different relationships with actors you know. I think the ones who don’t like him are the ones who tie him up in knots and not let him move, the autocrats.”

    MICHAEL MANN:
    director, HEAT (1995)
    “In that one expression is Chris’ total understanding of who he’s been and where he’s come from, all that history, the volatility, the dysfunctional parts of his marriage, the contradictions. It’s the accumulation of all the work we did. It’s not just an accumulation of Chris’ history crashing at that moment, it’s Val’s history and my history and everybody’s history doing that picture. In that moment, Val is Chris. He’s not Val; he’s not acting. He is being Chris. You can’t fake that. When you work with a brilliant actor like Val, you get those transcendental moments when an expression says everything.”

    KELLY McGILLIS:
    Juilliard classmate; costar in TOP GUN (1986) and AT FIRST SIGHT (1999)
    “He’s been nothing but generous to me. [The bad press] is the price you pay for fighting for what you believe in.”

    TOM SIZEMORE:
    costar in TRUE ROMANCE (1993), HEAT (1995) and RED PLANET (2000)
    “Never have I heard so much crap about an actor I had such a good time with. It’s all bull. He doesn’t explain himself to people, so people talk.”

    JEFFREY KATZENBERG:
    cochairman of DreamWorks SKG; Executive Producer of THE PRINCE OF EGYPT
    “Val was one of the first people cast. He was there every step along the way, patient, understanding, and phenomenally generous with his time.”

    TED TURNER:
    New Mexico neighbor; executive at Warner Bros. studios/Turner Enterprises
    “You know, people have said I’m a little crazy. But if you’re the slightest bit different, you’re gonna get a little of that, right? He’s got his own style. I kind of like that. I think he’s an interesting, fun person. I think he’s a hoot.”

    IRWIN WINKLER:
    writer, producer & director of AT FIRST SIGHT (1999)
    “Bob (De Niro) said he was great. And when I met Val, I have to admit I was charmed by him. He worked incredibly hard and I like him so much. I still socialize with him. Brains can scare a lot of people in Hollywood.”

    OLIVER SACKS:
    writer of TO SEE AND NOT SEE on which AT FIRST SIGHT (1999) is based
    “I was very impressed by the way all of them, especially Val, studied the almost impossible task of trying to represent a blind man and then an agnosic man – someone who is able to see but is mentally blind and cannot decipher what he is seeing. Sometimes I was quite puzzled and a little miffed during filming when I would go up to talk to him and he wouldn’t greet me. I thought at first he was being supercilious but in fact it turned out he couldn’t see me.”

    MIRA SORVINO:
    costar, AT FIRST SIGHT (1999)
    “He’s very creative. Very improvisational. He’s always coming up with great ideas. Very natural. Every take is different. We have a really fun time. It’s going well.”

    PHILLIP NOYCE:
    director, THE SAINT (1997)
    “I didn’t need just another action man, I needed a real actor, someone who could pull of playing 13 different characters – 12 the audience knows about, one important disguise they mustn’t cotton on to. Val Kilmer has shown how incredibly diverse his talents are in such films as The Doors and Tombstone. Val has all the qualities of a leading man; he’s handsome, debonair and charismatic. But what distinguishes him from all the others out there is that he can play other people. He doesn’t just rely on projecting an extension of his own persona. He was the only person who had the true acting ability to play all the diverse parts Simon Templar must adopt. Val has never been used in this way before – I think people are going to be really surprised with what he comes up with here.”

    MACE NEUFELD:
    producer, THE SAINT (1997)
    “Val and I met for the first time on our lot in London. I’ve worked with great actors before, and I was aware of Val’s reputation, so I asked him how does he see making this movie. He said to me, ‘I do a lot of movies where they won’t listen to my suggestions.’ I said that we will listen, and he said, ‘That’s all I want.’ So he suggested how to create all these characters that Templar uses in the film. They were not on the page, they were just scenes dealing with a man in disguise, but what that disguise was going to be, the particular accent and attitude along with body language, it was all coming from Val.”

    ELIZABETH SHUE:
    costar in THE SAINT (1997)
    “Val has a beautiful intensity of spirit that you feel when you play opposite him,” says Elisabeth Shue, Kilmer’s love interest in The Saint. “He’s very reactive. And you can see his mind working on film, which is rare.”

    NICOLE KIDMAN:
    costar, BATMAN FOREVER (1995)
    “Val’s an actor’s actor, wonderfully complex. Before we made BATMAN, Tom [Cruise, her husband, who had worked with Kilmer in TOP GUN (1986)] said, ‘You’re really going to get along well. He’s really bright, and he’s really dedicated.’ and that was true. We just clicked.”

    DAVID BROWN:
    producer, THE SAINT (1997)
    “Val has been a complete gentleman. He’s given us extra days he’s not required to do by contract. He’s been very adaptable. But most artists require someone who will listen to them – you’d better listen to a serious actor, and Val is a serious actor.”

    STEPHEN HOPKINS:
    director, THE GHOST & THE DARKNESS (1996)
    “Val is a very vulnerable and fragile person …. I think that’s why his performances are so good. He dares to let his own, interior workings come out on screen”

    OLIVER STONE:
    director, THE DOORS (1991)
    “Working with Val was the best part of the movie.”

    KURT RUSSEL:
    costar, TOMBSTONE (1993)
    “I’ll be honest: I was a little concerned about Val because I heard he had a rep for being difficult. I can tell you, he was a love. I mean, he gave me the same kind of loyalty that Doc Holliday gave Wyatt Earp. It was really on the line for me, and he came through. And I think that’s what it is with Val: he needs a challenge to be at his best – the challenge of a difficult role, or a difficult situation, or a challenging director. Val doesn’t have a coasting gear.”

    JOEL SCHUMACHER:
    director, BATMAN FOREVER (1995)
    “If I were to guess,” says Schumacher, “I would think that Val’s survival instinct forced him to be as involved as he is with acting craft, because with his looks he could have been very easily thought of as just a fox, just a pretty boy. His career is just starting to roll now. And I think it’s a better moment than when he started, because he’s older, he’s more mature, and he will continue to grow as an actor, because he’s really got his craft.”

    JIM CARREY:
    costar, BATMAN FOREVER (1995)
    “I think he’s just a little more…virile,” [than Batman predecessor, MICHAEL KEATON] “He’s very less-is-more. He just gives you enough to make you feel there’s something beating underneath.”

    MICHAEL GOUGH:
    costar in TOP SECRET! (1984) and BATMAN FOREVER (1995)
    “With Michael Keaton and Val, the actual performances are both very good. I think that perhaps Val is more…. Michael would give you something that he just made, open his hand and say, ‘There it is; I’ve just made it.’ And Val just opens his hand and it’s there; it’s part of his hand. I don’t know how else to put it.”

    TOMMY LEE JONES:
    costar, BATMAN FOREVER (1995)
    “At one point we were on a gimbal that was swerving and dipping in the air, and I was supposed to kick him (Val) in the face. I think on the third or fourth take, the helicopter zigged when it should have zagged, and I popped him on the nose. I was mortified, but he was a perfect gentleman.”

    RON HOWARD:
    director, WILLOW (1988)
    “Val is such a good actor that he can turn a joke, run and pick up a sword, then do a serious acting moment, and never make a false step. Discovering that Val was so great at the physical aspects of the film, I felt blessed in the same way I did when I discovered Darryl Hannah could hold her breath under water for more than a minute.”

    BILL PAXTON:
    costar, TOMBSTONE (1993)
    “He’s probably one of the best American actors right now – he’s in his prime. This movie could be very big for him. It’s the best-written role in the script and he’s doing a heck of a job. He’s learned how to play on of Chopin’s nocturnes. He’s a bright guy. He does a lot of research, he gets used to all his props, he works hard with his accent. He’s got a lot going for him.”

    DAVID THEWLIS:
    costar, THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU (1996)
    “I actually like Val. I know he gets a lot of bad press, but I like him a lot. Sometimes (people) can want a little bit of control and want (their) own way…and not have an idea in their head. The fact is that Val wants the control, but he has some great ideas. I think if they would have listened to Val a bit more, the film might be a little bit better.”

    FAIRUZA BALK:
    costar, THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU (1996)
    “But it’s weird because like right now, I’ve read two things where there seems to be this massive kill campaign against Val Kilmer. And he was in DR. MOREAU and it just *#&@*’d me off because it’s just so not true. I mean, I worked with the man…he’s just not, he’s not an *#&!@#. He’s been given this awful rap for nothing. He never did the things they say he did. I was there. I would know, you know?”

    MICHAEL KAHN:
    Juilliard teacher
    “When I first saw Val as a young actor, I thought two things. One was that I thought he was talented and two, I thought that he would work – that he would get work. That he had the kind of personality and the kind of looks and the kind of putting that all together that could make him very employable – and I was right.

    ROBBIE KRIEGER:
    consultant on THE DOORS (1991)
    original Doors guitarist, played by Frank Whaley in the film
    “When I first met Val, I didn’t think he was right. He didn’t look the part, and his voice didn’t sound like Jim’s at all. But when he put on makeup and got into the part, he reminded me of Jim in everything from his voice to his manner. It was like having him back for a while. Spooky.”

    MICHAEL DOUGLAS:
    producer/co-star in THE GHOST & THE DARKNESS (1996)
    “For Val, he understood not only what was on the page but the spiritual essence of what the movie was trying to say and he has sort of lived and breathed the character of John Patterson for a long time.”

    ANNA CARROLL:
    Widow to Chief Ted Thin Elk, Grandpa in THUNDERHEART (1992)
    “I will never forget the smile on his (Ted’s) face when he spoke of Mr. Kilmer. When I read horror stories about how difficult he is to work with, I just remember the wonderful things Ted told me about him and realize the stories cannot be totally accurate. If you have a way to get in touch with Mr. Kilmer, I would very much appreciate your letting him know how much the late Chief Ted Thin Elk thought of him as a man and an actor.”

    MICHAEL BIEHN:
    co-star in TOMBSTONE (1993)
    “I¹ll tell you who I really have a lot of respect for is Val, Val Kilmer. Val and myself and Kurt, I can remember sitting around and talking and talking and talking about the characters and Kurt¹s characters and Val and I must have rehearsed the scenes we did hundreds of times and talked about different variations and different ways we could play it and just attack it from every way we could. Val is the hardest working actor that I²ve ever worked with and he¹s gotten a bad reputation, but he¹s a perfectionist. People say, he¹s a… some people mistake being a perfectionist for being a prima donna and he¹s not.”

    FRANK WHALEY:
    co-star in THE DOORS (1991)
    writer/director of JOE THE KING (1999)
    “People have said to me they think it’s his best work,” (in JOE THE KING) “He’s had glimpses here and there – I’ve known him since we did THE DOORS – but here he was just relaxed. There was no money involved, of course. He just did the part.”

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    • I’m sure a lot of people love Kilmer. He has made friends in the industry. He’s also pissed a lot of people off. Some people you have quoted hate him, but said nice things about him to promote the movie he was in. When you quote press releases, you will find mortal enemies praising each other.

      Having said that, your posts provide a good counter-point to some of the content of the article. So, thanks.

      Has Kilmer lost weight? I haven’t seen him looking any slimmer. This article probably is due for an update.

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      • http://www.celebritywatchdog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/val-kilmer-conan-obrien-august-12.jpg

        Here’s Kilmer a few months ago on Conan. Looking slimmed down

        The quotes I really look at is Fairuza Balk’s, Anna Carroll, and Tom Sizemore. There is pictures of them holding hands on the red carpet at the Red Planet premiere. So, the truth seems jumbled up a lot. Kilmer says that during the divorce his wife used friends in the media to smear him, for custody’s sake. True? Who knows… Nobody can deny he’s probably been difficult and taken himself too seriously, been unsympathetic to other’s needs, but is he some insane terrible human being? I can’t see it. From turning down Coppola’s Outsiders because if he accepted it an entire troupe of actors would be out of work. Most of the unopinionated stories I’ve read about him just seem to say he lives on Planet Val. That he’s odd, but nice enough. Even Joel Schumacher who bashed him like crazy in Batman Forever, offered him the lead role in Time to Kill at the same time. So, what’s the truth?

        There is too much smoke for there to be no fire, no one can deny that. But I think things were taken into hyperbole, rumor, and false claims after a while, to just build the fervor and sell papers. For instance, there is a story that Val demanded no extra look at him on the set of the Saint. But if you read more into it, the director told extras to stop looking at Kilmer because they were ruining shots by staring at the star. It’s easy to turn that story into psycho Kilmer.

        Val will never A-list again. He’s 54 years old. There are not many 54 year old A-listers. And even with the weight loss, Val is not a hunk anymore. But he could become a strong supporting actor in big movies, and find new life in indie films as a lead. He’s still got talent pouring from himself. He was almost Ray Winstone’s part in Darren Aronosky’s Noah. That would’ve been a major comeback.

        Currently he’s touring the country and raising money for his Mark Twain movie that he’ll be writing, directing, and starring in. He may be making his own comeback, having seen the youtube video teaser, and the live show, if the movie is up to snuff, it could be academy worthy if it finds the right distribution.

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        • Thanks for the link. While he’s not back in his Iceman shape, he does appear to have slimmed down a bit. Good for him.

          You’re 100% right. Kilmer is not a monster. He’s certainly guilty of bad behavior in the past. And it probably helped end his mainstream movie career prematurely (which is what the article is really about). But he does have lots of friends and people who will work with him. So, it’s not like he’s evil incarnate.

          I think you raise some excellent points. I will definitely need to see if I can incorporate some of them into the article to give a more well-rounded picture.

          Thanks for sharing your POV.

          Like

          • I agree that it probably led to him not getting offers for things that he would’ve been great in. Add that with his inability to pick the right script (he turned down the Matrix and did red Planet instead, yikes) and his turning down a lot of other good opportunities (he turned down Robert Altman 3 times, Tony Scott, ron Howard, and others, one of the things that guarantees an actors a list longevity is the teaming with an alist talent director (Denzel Washington/Tony Scott, Depp/Burton, Crowe/Ridley Scott, DiCaprio/Scorcese etc…) and instead Val repeatedly turned down the great directors that wanted to work with him again. Add bad rumors and you’re done. I had hoped he’d make a living doing indie stuff like Salton Sea, Wonderland, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and others.
            One of Val’s main problems was that he was trying to be a serious actor like a Sean Penn or Daniel Day-Lewis while doing more mainstream fair. If he had done like Penn and just focused on intense character oriented dramas with directors who would’ve been happy to deal with is perfectionism he’d have Oscars, instead he brought that same intensity to movies like Ghost and the Darkness (a personal favorite) and The Saint, which were more popcorn movies, and they and the director didn’t have time to make a popcorn movie about a character, which frustrated Val I think. He didn’t seem to understand that. He was essentially doing Tom Cruise type movies and acting like Sean Penn or Daniel Day Lewis in them. He could’ve easily done what Christian Bale has done post Batman which is not look for big grossing movies and go be an actor.

            Val was just a square peg trying to fit in a round hole. Maybe the ill fate of his matinee good looks, and Top Gun throwing him in the action picture. Method intensity rarely works with genre pictures. Which is almost exclusively what he did. When he did work in films that suited his style (Doors, Wonderland, Salton Sea, Heat) he turned in amazing performances.

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            • Good post- he basically need to work within a director’s expectations- Schumacher can try for Oscars on occasion- but I doubt he wanted his lead getting all perfectionist on Batman Whatever when there were just too many things to worry about.

              I do like the story how he got all Method in Top Secret!- which is funnier than half the jokes in the movie.

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            • You’ve clearly studied Kilmer’s career and have a very good understanding of what went wrong – as well as what went right. I should have you post an article!

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              • I’m something of a Val Kilmer expert, as well as a huge movie buff, I literally (literally literally) own every movie Val’s ever been in. Which as you know is a lot of DVD schlock. It’s embarrassing, It started as a joke because he was my favorite actor, and then I just went, hey, why not, I bet no one else does.

                And I’d gladly write an article. I’m an actor/movie buff. I’ve enjoyed your site quite a bit. The Val article sequel?!

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            • Although I know Val will probably never make it back onto the A list (I wont count him out just yet), I would love to see him working with Johnny Depp. What a movie those two would make. Awesome.

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              • Kilmer has shown that A-list or not, he will continue working. So I think you can look forward to seeing him work for a long time. You just might have to hunt down his movies because most of them won’t be in the mainstream.

                Like

  10. And a couple corrections: Spartan was written and directed by David Mamet. Val has only worked with Michael Mann once. He was offered a role in Collateral but had to turn it down todo a show in the West End.

    Here are some quotes of nice things reporters have said:

    He is as complex, as inviting and distancing, iconoclastic and respectful, acquisitive and generous, as the Land of Enchantment he lives in.

    An opaque conundrum at the least.

    He’s personable but intense. Nice but no pushover. He’s also passionate and extremely intelligent, a combination that easily could be confused with arrogance. Above all, Kilmer is incredibly serious about his work.

    What the hell can you say about Val Kilmer that hasn’t been said? He really does live on Planet Val. I go into all these interviews thinking I’m going to be surprised and that someone will be nothing like their “persona,” Val Kilmer is. Is that a bad thing? Not particularly.

    Kilmer’s voice is soft as if he’s shy, his eye contact strong as if he’s sure. His body language is caffeine-free, as fluid and mellow as reggae music.

    Kilmer is no more a bad boy than he is a choir boy. He’s simply a man unafraid to give a dense piece of himself to his work and his life.

    He is friendly, buoyant and so open that he often volunteers personal details about his life and is quick to laugh at himself. Still, Mr. Kilmer seems prone to philosophical ramblings. He segues with ease, for instance, from what it was like to meet with real-life crystal meth addicts as part of his research to why communism failed in Tanzania.

    Mr. Kilmer is a man of contrasts. Intensely playful with a smidge of danger and always himself.

    Val Kilmer isn’t afraid to give his opinion – never has been, never will be. No question. . . Kilmer isn’t scared to mouth off. But underneath the conviction, the ruggedly handsome star is a bundle of puzzling contradictions.

    Val Kilmer is one of our most reluctant hunks, a brainy and opinionated man who chooses his projects based on the limits they’ll push him to, not the grosses they’ll win.

    He shares fragments here and there, communicating through wandering sentences, nearly silent body language, and placid eyes, which occasionally sit behind purple sunglasses.

    Hazel-eyed and lush-lipped and so damn perfect-looking that reason flees and you think, “So this is what God intended.”

    There’s something about Val Kilmer that makes even the most earthbound person invoke the spiritual.

    This is clearly quite an intense, serious young man struggling to balance craft and commerce, the art of acting with the business of show business. The actor takes a pretty philosophical approach to the whole process.

    Val Kilmer is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the most gracious actor it has ever been my pleasure to meet. He is modest, he is well-spoken, he is generous. Val is really from the planet Kilmer, a world of great physical beauty located in the Galaxy of Abstract Ideas. A conversation with Val Kilmer does not tend so much to wander as to accrue various layers of content. This tendency toward the abstruse is a Kilmer hallmark.

    In a nutshell, Kilmer is a very, very nice man, and a very, very thoughtful man, as well as a very, very good actor, but he is not a good movie star, and he not only doesn’t want to be one, he is constitutionally incapable. His many parts would get in the way. . .

    Behind the talented actor Val Kilmer is a person who has thought deeply about the challenges of love and the meaning of death and life.

    Val Kilmer embodies the lightness of a mellow Southern Californian, and his presence pulls you out of dark thoughts. Devastatingly handsome

    Kilmer is anything but easy to figure. I’ve quickly learned that to pose him any question is to invite an obtuse, not always coherent, frequently entertaining discourse that might touch an any theme from the poetic angst of Shelley – to the power of the love beads he favors. . . He is, as I was warned by people who know him, a piece of work: by turns – sarcastic and friendly, puffed up and self-spoofing, sincerely grounded and almost calculatingly off-centered.

    The great thing about Kilmer’s silences, one quickly learns, is that they’re merely the prelude to a non-answer or a joke. Calculated pauses happen to be the cornerstone of his dry comic timing.
    Self described as shy, Kilmer is introspective and philosophical, qualities that may be masked by his matinee idol exterior.

    There is something strangely innocent, even beguiling and charming about Kilmer. This despite all the rumors. . .

    What does exist is a pattern of exacting standards, a relentless pursuit of excellence, often to the point of exhaustion, and the liberal use of the “why” word.

    Val Kilmer is almost unnervingly placid. . . No matter what, Kilmer’s voice remains as level as his gaze. His distinctively lush mouth. . . holds only an amiable smile.

    When Kilmer glides into a room, he fixes your eyes with a steady gaze, holds out his hand for a warm, firm shake and talks in a whispery voice that sounds both friendly and sincere.

    Kilmer is not just another pretty face. A poet in his spare time, Kilmer projects a mercurial charm, and his musings reveal both a keen mind and a high-strung artistic temperament.
    Val Kilmer, the tamed savage.

    His chiseled good looks and dramatic intensity have earned Val Kilmer a place in movie history as one of cinema’s most devoted and charismatic actors, yet he remains an enigma, at once sarcastic and friendly, sincerely grounded and almost calculatedly off-center, meticulously well-spoken but still so difficult to pin down.

    Bright, polite, sensitive, articulate – his literary references over 90 minutes range from Isak Dineson to Jung to Irish poetry – Kilmer is an interviewer’s dream.

    He’s an engaging character. And, though the language may occasionally get a little convoluted, his passion for the things that mean a lot to him comes across loud and clear.

    Kilmer is not a mirror-gazer, although with his shocking blond hair, mischievous green eyes, impudent smile and expensive Armani suit, he could pass for a rock star.

    Kilmer is a man interested in ideas. And admirer of Shakespeare, Van Gogh, Jesus Christ, Jacques Cousteau and the English poet John Donne. . .

    Here is his defense of himself:

    “I made mistakes regarding my career. Some of these, like people saying bad things and letting it have some hang time, are just because I haven’t had any discipline about defending myself.”

    “Like all rumors, they based those stories on something that was part true, and then made up something to make it worse than it really was. If you actually look at them, there’s no real accusation anywhere – because if any of it were true, then we’d have a legal problem.”

    “Something I know I contribute to my work is that whatever it takes, I find a place, I find a way to be able to concentrate. And some things that have been said about me being hard to work with, things I knew were deserving – it’s hard to communicate when you’re preoccupied and become unresponsive like I do, and to say, Oh, I’m sorry I didn’t say please when I asked for lunch.”

    ~ Val Kilmer

    I met him after one of his Mark Twain shows (he was brilliant). He was perfectly nice and cheerful if not a little dazed after the show (I know the feeling, I too am a method actor)

    Like

  11. http://www.esquire.com/features/ESQ0705VALKILMER_120

    Val is described as nice by Chuck Klosterman

    And he and Robert Downey Jr became great friends

    Good series of videos about Val

    Like

  12. UKLANSKI: What is this about you not drinking anymore?

    KILMER: I quit drinking. I never really drank.

    UKLANSKI: You were lying to me about waking up next to two Russian girls in a dingy hotel in Moscow after a three-day binge? What about smoking?

    KILMER: What, dope? No! Everything in high school was reversed. If marijuana was supposed to make you mellow, I would be like, “The cops, the cops, the
    cops . . .” I was what you call the buzz kill. [both laugh]

    Like

  13. He looks pretty good in The Spoils of Babylon and he is nailing the role of a sinister general easy enough.

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  14. What does this have to do with Val Kilmer?

    Like

  15. I have enjoyed watching his movies since Top Gun…above all he continues to be a great actor!

    Like

  16. Does Batman Forever Deserve To Be Slated As Batman & Robin?

    http://officialfan.proboards.com/thread/495175/batman-forever-deserve-slated-robin?page=1

    Post by jmfabianorpl on 6 hours ago
    The writing is on the wall, and they try to turn the villains into Joker clones (Riddler it works better with, Blueberry Pie Fa…er, Two-Face? Not so much.). But it did try harder to flesh out Bruce Wayne, and added the “one rule” to Batman’s philosophy.

    And I admit it, I cheered for the “Holy rusted metal” scene, as did most of the theater.

    This is another example of the WWF Russo vs. WCW Russo comparison I made between the Michael Bay of Transformers 1 and 2, and oddly enough, it applies to Tim Burton between Batman and Batman Returns. Same thing can be said for BF Schumacher (kind of reined in) vs. B&R Schumacher (just throws all his crap to the wall)

    Post by ZombieElvis on 5 hours ago
    Batman & Robin is at least fun to watch and make fun of how terrible it is.

    Two-Face in Batman Forever ruins the movie for me since they don’t go into detail about his life as Harvey Dent and how Two-Face came into being. Two-Face is the type of character that needs to be developed and can’t just be thrown out there like they did in Batman Forever.

    Other reasons I dislike Batman Forever are that Jim Carrey was too over the top, Kilmer being a terrible Bruce Wayne and Nicole Kidman was just dull in it. I actually liked Kilmer’s work in the bat suit, but his portrayal of Bruce Wayne is the worst live action Bruce Wayne IMO.

    Post by Death to Analog on 4 hours ago
    To me, it’s better than Batman Returns, and only Nicholson raises Batman ’89 above it.

    Two-Face is a horrible character that throws away any and all complexity and menace associated with the character and replaces it with generic wacky howling “look at me I’m crazy!” nonsense.

    Bruce Wayne is a two-dimensional bore, and if Batman is the World’s Greatest Detective it’s a wonder that anybody actually follows the law. He got outsmarted by one the villains’ molls for Christ’s sake!

    Dick Grayson as written would have been a great 15 year-old, but Chris O’Donnell was 25 at the time so there was a clear disconnect between the character and the actor.

    Jim Carrey is outstanding at times, and other times he’s just doing typical ’90s Jim Carrey shtick.

    Commissioner Gordon is still a bumbling goofball, Chase Meridian is a walking “Batman isn’t gay, really!” assertion and nothing more, and the less said about the schlocky performances from most of the supporting cast the better.

    All that considered, I love the production design. Say what you want about the copious and illogical amounts of neon in Gotham, it works for me. It feels like a comic book come to life, is as distinctive as TAS’ version of Gotham, and doesn’t feel like a tiny back-lot set as Burton’s Gotham did.

    Like

  17. The most notable thing about Red Planet was the bad ass robot A.M.E.E it’s not that bad a movie either.

    Like

  18. This is awesome. But you forgot one role (or you did and I missed it, if so I apologize) In 2004, Val played a drill Sargent in the indie Stateside, starring Jonathan Tucker and Rachel Leigh Cook. It bombed, but Kilmers role was impressive, I thought anyway.
    Cheers :)

    Like

    • Glad you liked it. Usually once the subject’s time in the spotlight has faded, I start being a little more selective. I skip around a bit as the central question of what happened has already been answered. But maybe I’ll go back and update this article with that info. Thanks for reading!

      Like

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