What the Hell Happened to Val Kilmer?

Val Kilmer

Val Kilmer

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

Val Kilmer – The Slab Boys – 1983

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.

kilmer - top secret

Val Kilmer -Hot Shots – 1984

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?”’

Val Kilmer - Real Genius - 1985

Val Kilmer – Real Genius – 1985

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.


Val Kilmer and Michelle Pfeiffer – One Too Many – 1985

Later that year, Kilmer appeared in 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.

The movie was filmed in 1983 when Pfieffer and Kilmer were still unknowns.  It aired two years later as the stars’ careers were heating up.

Next: Top Gun


Posted on May 5, 2011, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actor and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 543 Comments.

  1. Yeeeah! Fantastic write-up! I knew the fat pictures were coming, but I had no idea that he’d actually beached himself! As you’ve noted, a big part of this implosion is clearly Kilmer’s fault. Annoying the hell out of everyone on almost every film you work on eventually will take its toll. Aside from the morbid weight gain, the lowlight of this career has to be voicing “Kitt” in the failed Knight Rider reboot. Thanks for another entry in this ongoing series of implosive acting careers! Happily subscribed, and looking forward to the next one.


    • Glad you liked it. This was truly an epic entry! I was actually surprised by a lot of what I found out about Kilmer in researching his behavior. It really seems to me like he snapped around the time of his divorce. Not that he was a joy to work with before that. But the self-destructive tendencies really escalated and he seems to have broken with reality and/or just stopped caring.

      Yeah, how you go from the A-list to doing voice work on a failed relaunch of a cheesy 1980’s David Hasslehoff TV show… that takes a dedication to career derailment that few actors have. Val Kilmer’s story will be tough to top!

      If you have any requests for future subjects, let me know! And thanks for reading!


      • I do have a request…Sean Young. If memory serves, a severe lowlight was Ms. Young’s desperate but failed attempt at winning the part of Catwoman in Burton’s Batman sequel (starting to see a Batman curse here). Would love to hear the details of “what the hell happened to” this Blade Runner starlet.


        • Heck yeah! Good call!

          I have tried so far to alternate male/female. So Sean Young fits right into that pattern. Also, everyone I’ve covered so far is someone I have legitimately been a fan of. And Ms. Young meets that criteria as well.

          Thanks for the suggestion. I’m all over that one!


  2. Well he also cheated on his wife, a lot =divorce so maybe he’s just self destructive to begin with and didn’t know how good he had it until he’s doing b movies


    • An excellent point. I have seen people defend Kilmer’s preparation for a role. But I’ve never seen anyone claim he was a nice guy.


  3. omg I adore your good job here! As we pals watched those movies: MacGruber, 5 Days of War, and Kill the Irishman, we told one another that Kilmer is Back !… while… oops, in a whale-suit !

    I love Top Gun, I love The Saint, I love …(no, I don’t)… Batman Forever. And I hope I didn’t see Kilmer in rubbisx MacGruber.

    I wish I’ll never see him again, until he’s told to start worshiping Kate Moss of ’90.


  4. Apparently, Kilmer took Brando’s comment as advice to gain weight. Brando is apparently Kilmer’s idea of what an actor’s career should be. The problem is, Kilmer never made a film as good as “On the Waterfront” when he was a young screen idol, and it’s hard to see a “Godfather” type comeback role for him.


    • Unless Kilmer cleans up his act and gets back in Hollywood’s good graces, I don’t see any comeback in his future. There are people who can make or break careers who would prevent Kilmer from getting a role like The Godfather. He’s pissed in too many pools.


      • Hate to say it LeBeau but I don’t think he cares. I wish that he did care, because he was a great actor, but I’m seeing a guy who’s given up completely. He does seem genuinely happy though, on some strange bloated level – hey, I’m overweight right now too so I can make jokes like that!


        • Yeah, I get that sense too. In fact, I almost used the phrase “given up” myself.

          Hey, if he’s happy, more power to him! It must be a crazy life being an a-list actor. I don’t think I’d want to maintain it. I can totally understand why someone sitting on a pile of Batman money (like Keaton) would walk away and lead a relatively normal life. See Rick Moranis. And to a lesser extent, our comments on Alecia Silverstone.

          But with Kilmer, I get the impression he’s just sunk into a drug induced haze. Career aside, I’d like to see him pull himself out of that. If he ever did, I’d like to see him get his career on some kind of path to recovery. I was a fan once. I’d love to see what he could do in the right supporting role.


  5. val kilmer is the most talented actor i have ever seen. despite all the criticism from directors like joel schumacher and the late john frankenheimer, val kilmer can make a movie great with his performance. schumacher ruined the batman movies with his innuendo. it’s all schumacher’s fault not val kilmer. val kilmer is still one of my favorite actors. batman forever, the saint, top gun, thunderheart, heat, willow, true romance, tombstone and deja vu are the best i’ve seen from val kilmer


  6. My wife rented movies from RedBox last night, and I think we’ve seen just about everything watchable (and plenty unwatchable) that “the box” has to offer. So at this point we just randomly get a thriller/horror/sci-fi, and a kid/family movie. The thriller/horror in last night’s selection was none other than The Traveler, starring Val Kilmer. With that buildup, let me sum up the entire experience with one word: dud. This is the larger Val that we know and love. He appears in all black throughout the entire film. His acting is muted due to the strange, quiet character he plays, but he does an ok job. I don’t expect anyone to rent this mess, so I’ll just let you know what it’s about. The story and premise is atrocious, involving the ghost of a child killer (Kilmer) returning from the dead to exact revenge on the policemen that tortured and killed him. The viewer doesn’t know that he’s a child killer for most of the film, so we’re made to believe that he is a victim of false accusations. So the non-twist, non-surprise, is that he actually IS the child killer. Horrible. Now we’re left rooting for the last policeman standing (who is also the father of the murdered child) who has to re-kill him. I really wish I hadn’t seen this disaster, but as they say, you can’t unsee a dud (ok I made that up).


    • Yowza! That sounds awful!

      I watched Drive Angry through Netflix the other day. It’s so bad it’s good. The question is, was it made this way intentionally. The answer, I don’t care. I was entertained either way.


    • Yeah, I happened upon this movie – The Traveler, one night on Netflix. I used to really like Val Kilmer’s work, so I thought I maybe hit upon a nugget! It was really lame, and I consider myself to have a pretty high tolerance for bad movies, especially when it has a favorite actor in it. I was shocked at his weight, and I thought that he just dead-panned the whole way through his character. I wonder if he had been able to inject a little more life into the character, if it would have livened up the movie a bit. Maybe. It really was horrible.


      • I think even most Val Kilmer fans would agree at this point that Val has given up. He clearly has substance abuse problems that are making matters worse. Even at the peak of his career, Kilmer had a tendency to phone in certain performances. He was sleep-walking through Batman Forever, for example. But now that his career has hit the skids, he seems to have thrown in the towel. He let his weight go insane. He’s (allegedly) doped up on god knows what. And he barely seems interested in the few movies he does make.

        It’s really sad. You can still see glimmers of the talent going to waste. I just watched Bad Lt with Nicholas Cage this past week. I won’t say it’s a good movie, but it sure is interesting. And Kilmer has moments in the film that are worth seeing. I’d like to get that guy back sometime.

        I didn’t really cover it in the article, but Kilmer has seen a lot of personal tragedy. And I don’t think he ever recovered from it. The guy has demons and they clearly got the best of him. I fear he has yet to hit rock bottom, honestly. I predict a tragic end to his story if he doesn’t clean up.


      • “Kilmer has not been able to hold a pen for a number of years and has resorted to palm prints instead of autographs.”

        Yes, cruel but hilarious.

        Another favorite:

        “Val really appreciates anything his fans are able to do, obviously he requires a great deal of food to keep going”


        • Also really enjoyed the bit about what a nice guy he was. And not a drug case at all. Could happen to anyone, really.


      • “When contacted Kilmer only made a series of muffled sounds.”


  7. Can’t tell if that was a joke or what about Basinger being written out of Batman Forever due to bad chemistry with Kilmer.
    Basinger wasn’t in Batman Returns (1992) either — had she been written back into the series for Batman Forever (1995) in some early draft?


    • It was talked about. Vicki Vale was in the Sam Hamm draft for Batman Returns back when it was called Batman 2. That script got rewrite after rewrite until it no longer resembled the original. Which is why Batman Returns is kind of schizophrenic. Early in the development for Batman 3, they talked about bringing the character back. But when they cast Kilmer, they finally decided against bringing back Basinger because they didn’t think they’d have good chemistry together.


  8. you know what val kilmer and michael keaton have in common besides batman? is that they both worked with ron howard and they are good friends with him.


    • Ron Howard seems to inspire that kind of devotion. As I was writing up both Keaton and Hanks, I was surprised how often both of them had worked with Ron Howard. 3 times with Keaton. 4 for Hanks. And 2 times with Russel Crowe.


  9. you don’t see keaton working with howard that much. that’s for sure. keaton should work with howard again.


  10. and so should kilmer.


    • At this point, a director like Howard would have to flex some muscle to put Keaton in a starring role in a big movie. That’s doubly true for Kilmer. Friends or not, I don’t think many directors would do that. Especially for Kilmer.

      My dream project for Keaton would be to see him work with Tarantino or Soderberg again. I really liked the character actor work he did in Jackie Brown and Out of Sight.

      He did kill it in Toy Story 3 and on a recent episode of 30 Rock. So, I’d love to see him do comedy too. There’s talk of remaking Mr. Mom. Maybe he could play the wife’s boss this time! 😉


  11. so did i on jackie brown and out of sight. you never know.


  12. keaton should work with tarantino and so should kilmer.


  13. kilmer is still talented despite what idiots like schumacher and the late john frankenheimer say about him.


  14. LeBeau, I think the HuffPost is trying to cash in on your gig. Here’s a Tara Reid WTHHT copycat if I’ve ever seen one:


    • Well, I’m not really writing about comics. I’m really moonlighting at the Huff Post. Yay me! Or not.

      To tell the truth “What the Hell Happened” is far from an original idea. There was a short-lived column of the same name at Rotten Tomatoes as well.


      • No, WTHHT is all yours LeBeau 😉
        Now simply steal back and write about Tara Reid!

        I like the fact that the HuffPost tells us all when a star loses its shine by way of a salary cut. I’m sure Tara Reid is thrilled to have that info go public.


        • Aside from Allyson Hanigan, the entire American Pie cast qualifies for What the Hell Happened? I even considered doing a single article for the whole cast. You would have thought someone from that group would have caught on.

          Poor, poor Tara Reid. Always a punchline. Almost too easy. Almost.

          My favorite thing about Tara Reid is that she apparently thinks she is going to make a sequel to The Big Lebowski inspite of everyone telling her it’s not happening.


  15. Solid writing!


  16. Everyone has troubles, have pity on those who have weight gain or other vices as you don’t know the reason. We all need support, no person is exempt.


    • You’re right, Debra. Weight gain sucks. As I indicated in the article, I have struggled with my weight in the past. (Although I can happily say I am currently down 50 lbs. Come on, Val. If I can do it, you can too!)

      Having said that, I can only work with the info available. And from what I hear, Kilmer is deserving of a little ribbing. I seriously doubt the guy gives a damn at this point.


    • I agree with your sentiments with one big however: wallowing in self pity and turning to drugs, food, sex, prescriptions, booze and a laundry list of other vices lies squarely at the feet of the individual. People can and do choose to deal with daily struggles in a healthy manner or not. Your troubles are your own as are your choices and the solutions. As you say; no person is exempt.


      • Not to mention, by most accounts, Kilmer’s a jerk on top of being plagued by obvious vices. In life, I make it a policy to “judge not”. But that policy ends when it comes to having fun at the expense of public figures.

        For the most part, I assume I am beneath the notice of most of my targets. Sean Young is the obvious exception. Then again, when isn’t Sean Young the exception?

        Val, feel free to drop by and insult me any time.


  17. The Salton Sea is actually pretty good if you like tweaker movies like Spun and Requiem. Val’s tattoos in the movie are insane and he’s in shape.


  18. Tom Cruise is reportedly keen on making Top Gun 2.
    Any chance of Val reprising the role of Iceman?


  19. I just don’t see how they could include him in his current state without it being awkward and sad.
    Of course the prospect of a Top Gun sequel 25 years later is kind of awkward and sad all on its own.


  20. i cant wait to see top gun 2 soon.


  21. Great article, Lebeau. I’ve had some very similar thoughts about Kilmer’s career myself. It’s a shame things have ended up the way that they have – he’s one of the better actors of recent times – and I only wish him the best regarding his career.

    I just wanted to add something with regard to a couple of comments suggesting that Kilmer “doesn’t care” or that he has “given up” when it comes to his career. I think to some extent this is true, but I also think that he deeply regrets a few career choices, or perhaps his past attitudes. I was lucky enough to attend a panel he was on for a Sci-Fi convention in November of 2011, and he mentioned as much when asked about his career. I think that he does care, but it’s too little too late.

    For the moment, he’s working on his own projects and trying to get them picked up, so he is pretty much doing whatever projects come his way in order to finance his true passion (a film about Mark Twain). I just wish he would be a little more selective about some of the movies he’s been in, as a lot of them have been complete and utter trash (ones like Moscow Zero come to mind, as do Masked & Anonymous, The Traveller etc).


    • Glad you liked the article. Thanks for stopping in and sharing your experiences. That is really interesting! I’d love to have the chance to actually hear Kilmer voice regrets about his career. He must have them.

      Kilmer’s never ever going to get back on the A-list. It’s just not going to happen. But the guy does work a lot. That’s got to count for something.

      I would imagine he would like to be more selective about his roles. But his financial situation probably requires that he make any movie where the check clears.


  22. If you are going to do a write up, you could at least do your research and do it correctly. For example, you have the WRONG actors listed for Wyatt And Doc… Just saying. Very unprofessional. Who/what are your resources? Wikipedia?


    • Oops. I think you might want to check your facts before attacking the author, Tia. The actors he listed were in a different film called “Wyatt Earp”.

      Here’s a link to the film:

      Kevin Costner as Wyatt Earp and Dennis Quaid as Doc Holliday. Lebeau was saying that of the two films that came out during 1993/1994, Tombstone was better.


      • And it looks like Val Kilmer is coming out in another Wyatt Earp film this year! Wyatt Earp’s Revenge. This appears to be a direct-to-dvd, very low budget, RedBox type of thing. You never know, might be good.


        • I actually think it’s pretty remarkable how much work he gets in these kinds of movies. Kilmer’s output is really high these days. But most people aren’t aware of the movies he’s making.


    • Hi Tia,

      Thanks for reading. Sorry you found the article confusing. But as Minya pointed out, the part of the article you are referencing deals with the fact that there were two Wyatt Earp movies that came out at about the same time. Lawrence Kasdan’s Wyatt Earp was a big, star-filled epic. And most people expected it to be a hit. It starred Kevin Costner at the top of his box office popularity. After he had already made another western (Dances with Wolves) that was a big hit.

      By comparison, expectations for Tombstone starring Kurt Russell and directed by the Rambo guy, were much lower. But Tombstone turned out to be a big hit (at least partially based on Kilmer’s performance as Doc Holiday) and Wyatt Earp was an expensive bomb that contributed to the fall of Kevin Costner.

      I try to make sure I get my facts right for these articles. But mistakes do sometimes make it into the final article. The one that comes to mind is that I originally stated that Elisabeth Shue won the Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas when in fact she lost to Susan Sarandon. For some reason, I had it stuck in my head that Shue had won and I didn’t fact check that. But as soon as a reader pointed it out, I updated it.

      But trust me, an effort is made to be both fair and factually accurate. Anyway, thanks for reading. I’m going to go back and try to clarify the wording a bit. And to fix some of those broken image links…

      Thanks again for dropping in!


  23. No one has yet mentioned the 2011 movie “Gun” starring Val Kilmer…strange !


  24. I liked Tombstone The Doors Spartan etc………….I am a Val Kilmer fan


  25. Plus fat or not he’s still smiling….


    • He is at that. But I think given everything that’s going on, he might not be all smiles on the inside. I wish him nothing but the best though.


  26. Very good job, Lebeau. We just asked Val for a phoner interview. I’m wondering if we get it and what he has to say. Well, he looked better at the Grammy awards so let’s wait and see….;-)


  27. val kilmer was a lot more talented back in the day than that idiot george clooney.


  28. Many people get fat because of mental problems, you may be a slacker – but don’t assume everybody else is.


  29. Hey Val, if you should by chance see this I just wanted to say you stole the show with Tombstone. Kirt didn’t stand a chance! You were amazing. Hope all is a-okay in your world!


  30. I guess I am in the minority because I still live me some Val. He is batahit crazy, fat & a bit of an arse but he will always be Iceman my middle school crush!


    • It’s funny how nostalgia does that. I don’t think you’re in the minority at all. I think a lot of fans (expecially female fans) see him as he was in the 80s.


      • Well, I hate to actually admit this in a public forum but I liked the Saint. Mainly because I have been a Val Kilmer lover since said viewing of Top Gun. There I have publically outed myself!

        Not to go off topic but What the Hell Happened to Ethan Hawke might be a good one.


        • I have to admit, I had not considered Ethan Hawke. I’ll have to dig in and see what kind of story is there (other than the messy break-up with Uma.)

          Truth be told, I have never sat through The Saint. From what I hear, it’s watchable. No shame in liking it. I’m sure I have enjoyed worse movies. None come to mind though. 😉


  31. Let me start by saying, your a [edited for content] idiot! Ok now that I got that out, you do make some funny blurbs but for the most part it’s all nonsense. You know how I stumbled upon “what the hell Happened” ? Someone at work said google Val Kilmer he is huge. So I did and I clicked on your stupid site. And I forced myself to read. And since like you I obviously have some free time on my hands I decided to comment. I’m not a big fan of people who mock others regardless if they deserve it or not. In closing I will say if you can say “what the Hell Happened to anyone” then that must mean they did something worthwhile or they had a good run or they contributed at one time or another. You cant apply that to your own self because all you have is this blog that tears apart actors that have not lived up to their previous or past performances. At least they had something. What do you have? Probably nothing. Your a hater buddy. Do something funny or cool like that Randall guy with the honey badger thing if your trying to get your 15 minutes, cause this aint working for you. Oh by the way your a horrible writer. Have a good one ACE!!!


  32. I like Val. And I also liked him in Red Planet. Some of his cameo roles have been good too. I do hope Val loses some weight for health reasons. I’m sure his blood pressure is high and at risk for lots of things like diabetes. Get healthy Val!


  33. And where is the movie where he played young Billy the Kid!?


    • Gore Vidal’s Billy the Kid was a TV movie in 1989. I was honestly unaware of it until you pointed it out. How strange that Kilmer was making TV movies in the post-Top Gun phase pf his career!


  34. Awesome blog! Great idea! Sharp prose! There are so many other actors you could do this for. How many people are like The Duke or Cary Grant or Clint or Streep, or even Sean Penn, going on forever? Most stars have a decade or so, and then it’s downhill (even Pacino, de Niro, Hoffman, etc). Where’s Danny Glover? Charles Grodin? Matthew Modine? Orlando Bloom? Neve Campbell? Even Keanu? But would that we were all so lucky!


    • Thanks, glad you’re enjoying the WTHH series. Just about every career slows down at some point. I try to be fairly selective when chosing subjects although the criteria has changed from the beginning. In general, I like for my subjects to have been considered A-list at some point. And I look for stories with an interesting angle. I think my next subject fits both of those criteria.


  35. I discovered “What the Hell Happened” after googling Val. My husband and I were rolling on the floor with laughter – truly hilarious. Enjoy your style and tremendous sense of humor. Please continue with your “exception,” when it comes to public figures. We could all use a laugh. By the way, what the hell happened to Catherine Zeta-Jones Douglas? Heard she was a tempestuous prima donna. Anyhoo, thanks again for the much-needed laugh – enjoyed it immensely.


    • Thanks for the kind words. I’m truly glad you enjoyed it.

      Zeta-Jones would make a good subject if for no other reason than it would allow me to bring up her appearance opposite Billy Zane in The Phantom. Rene Zelleweger is also on my radar. Perhaps I should do a Chicago theme.


  36. Great idea – there’s quite a bit of fodder there for humor, I would think. Billy Zane somehow comes off as a total creep in every movie I’ve ever seen him in. He played a dangerous creep in Dead Calm and gave a fairly good “breakout” performance, holding his own opposite Sam Neil. In his subsequent films, however, his performances have been waaaaaaaaaaay over the top like he was wigging out on coke or something, and the extent of his acting seems limited to playing just really, really unlikeable creeps. Some really bad script choices didn’t help either There was some god-awful movie he did with Eva Green; the main thrust of the plot was a brother-and-sister love story – he was either desparate for money or brain damaged to do this piece of dooty. Anyhoo, I hope you do go ahead with a Chicago theme. I for one, would find it fascinating.


  37. Are you auditioning to be a professional gossip journalist, because your writing is a LOT better than crap I’ve seen in magazines? (OK, I subscribe to the TLS, so I really don;t see much celebrity stuff, but upon occasionally reading something in a doctor’s office or wherever, my impressions are not favorable). Is Zellweger going out? Man, I didn’t even notice. She had a huge career for a long while. Another WHT subject would be Nicole Kidman. Even Julia Roberts.


    • lol – thanks, I think.

      Like you, I have an aversion to celeb gossip. I don’t understand people’s fascination with celeb relationships, etc. Even the meltdowns don’t interest me all that much, though they can be fun. What has always interested me is the work and the career arc.

      I’d say Zelleweger is out. Her last unqualified hit was Cold Mountain in 2003. I don’t really see Bridget Jones 3 righting the ship. Kidman would make an excellent subject. Her choices over the last several years have been mind-boggling. It’s a shame because she was on a real roll there in the 90s. I absolutely love To Die For. Julia Roberts career has cooled. But I think she’s still got gas in the tank.


  38. vincent adams

    I’d been wondering for years now about what the hell had happened to Val Kilmer, now I know!


  39. Val fan for life

    You never mentioned FELON. Val did an amazing job in that movie, and I liked the movie. I’d watch it again…..


  40. Hey Lebeau, the Kilmer article keeps bringing them in doesn’t it? I haven’t counted or anything, but this may be your most commented on title. And did you know that if you do a Google search “wthht Val Kilmer” yours is #1!?! That’s impressive. Maybe Kilmer should pay you royalties…or you to him possibly! 🙂

    Anyway nice job writing such an enduring article. btw I’m still looking out for the next WTHHT feature.


    • I had hoped to start the next article this weekend. But I have been having some computer troubles that have made posting difficult. Almost as soon as I posted the Prometheus review, my daughter broke the hard drive on the lap top I was using. Sigh. The next installment is very high on my list of priorities. Promise.

      There are 2 biggies here and they are Sean Young and Val Kilmer. Since Sean Young stopped appearing on Celeb rehab, Val almost always has the top article. The number one search term most days is “Val Kilmer fat”.

      Unless some other former sex symbol balloons up and gets photographed in a wetsuit, I doubt any other article will ever come close in the long run.


  41. After watching Kill Me Again, I was wondering what the hell happened to Joanna and Val. I always believed she had done him wrong back then, but I had NO IDEA he was acting like Sean Young on the sets. I remain a fan of his movies and still think he was pimping in the Saint. But now I feel bad about Shue’s career going down after being in it with him. All this time, I just thought he didn’t want to do those red carpet games for the hollywood clique. This site is damn awesome..


    • Thanks for the kind words. I’m glad you are enjoying the series.

      I have heard that Val is actually expressing an interest in Top Gun 2. He apparently commented he would need to get a haircut. Yeah, Val. That’s all you need…


  42. on Val…we all have our bad experiences …divorce, jobs, just things that happen in life…tell me what human being doesn’t change as we age..Val is an ordinary man who chose acting as his job and a great actor who might just enjoy living life the way he sees fit…so why the fat comments..we are all far from perfect


    • Oh come on, Patty. Val Kilmer can take it. And even if he can’t (as apparently Sean Young couldn’t), there’s far worse out there on the internet about Mr. Kilmer. In real life, I’d never make fun of someone’s weight. I have struggled with weight myself. But if we can’t make fun of a public figure who let himself go and then allowed pictures to be taken in a wetsuit, the terrorists win. God bless America!

      I promise it’s all in fun.


      • I do not like you or your blog.*

        *Edited for inappropriate language


        • Gee, Bobby. Sorry you don’t like it. My bad for forcing you to read it. Oh wait, I didn’t. But thanks for dropping by.

          I’m happy to accept constructive criticism. But just saying “you suck” is a waste of my time and yours.


      • although you did make me laugh…you are funny


        • Then mission accomplished. I’m glad you got a laugh out of it at least.

          In general, I only write about actors and actresses I am a fan of. Sure, I’ll poke fun at them for entertainment value. But none of it is mean spirited.

          And if Val ever wants help with a low carb diet, he should call me. I have a recipe for low carb pancakes that could help him get back into Top Gun shape. Or at least Island of Dr. Moreau!


  43. deja vu was a good movie he did with with bruckheimer and scott 20 years after top gun.


  44. really?


  45. I must confess that it was 2 movies Kilmer did that made me stop tolerating him (I can’t say I was ever a ‘fan’): The Saint & The Island of Dr. Moreau.
    To say Kilmer didn’t hold a candle to Sir Roger as Templar would be the understatement of all time. Moreau was a horrible adaptation of a classic book.

    It may sound unfair write off an actor simply because they were in a bad movie or two, but these two films, coupled with Kilmer’s off-screen antics, really make it hard for me to want to watch anything with him in it now.

    The same can be said for Mike Myers when “The Love Guru” came out. I can’t watch “Shrek” or “Austin Powers” anymore without realizing that he’s an egomaniac with a $hitty sense of humor.


    • It may be unfair, but you’re not in the minority. I think those are the films that did those two in for the reasons you outlined.


  46. Yeah, I don’t understand either when an actor has that kind of money….go figure….everybody in the end is human, and we all have our own problems….but if I had that kind of money, I would do things a whole different way!


    • In Kilmer’s case, I think the money contributed to his problems. He was able to live in a consequence-free world for a while there. Eventually, when the consequences of his actions caught up with him, he didn’t know how else to live.


  47. These are awesome! Thanks for the entertainment.


  48. Just watching Twixt which caused me to google “Val Kilmer downward spiral” and here we are. Funny I hadn’t thought about it as a real spiral til I saw fat Val in this. What happened to Copolla?! He directed this piece of poop I think.


    • The short story on Coppola is that he owes people money. He’s been in financial trouble for decades and as a result can’t be choosy about his projects. Also, talent wanes. Coppola is still a talented film-maker. But he hasn’t been at the top of his game in, well, decades. Very few directors stay consistent over the course of a long career. Coppola definitely wasn’t one of them.

      I love checking the search terms that bring people to the site. Some form of “Val Kilmer downward spiral” (or most comomonly “Val Kilmer fat”) is usually the number one search term.


  49. Lebeau, would love to see a What the Hell Happened to Steve Guttenberg. I’ve done some research comparing his career to Tom Hanks (Guttenberg was destroying Hanks early on), but I think it needs the full Lebeau treatment. Do you have an email I can send the info I have (basically an annual analysis of their domestic gross)?


  50. Since you brought up Coppola, would a “what the hell happened” article on him happen to be on your list?


    • For the most part, I’ve dealt with directors in the “Betrayed by” series. Although I have only gotten around to two of those. I could definitely write uo Mr. Coppola eventually.


  51. Hmm… very interesting… I ran across Val Kilmir’s name and your blog while searching for the meaning of “dooties” (Doyle used the word in one of his Sherlock Holmes stories).
    Hmm… I was wondering what ever happened to him.

    Last time I saw him was as Batman in Batman Returns.

    So he’s mischievious on sets, is he?… Hmm… well…
    You may have just solved a mystery for me. I’ve always wondered how during the filming I might have got hit on my butt by Kilmer’s bat rope.


  52. damn It was like watching a train wreck. I couldn’t look away. I wish I could have stopped myself at least before the fat pictures. sigh. Thanks for the info. I needed to know, I guess but I prefer to remember him when he was my huckleberry.


  53. You know I’m surpirsed I’ve found this blog because oh boy I’m reading all your articles about “what happened..” , the thing it bother me it’s just he had the “talent” to go on but he decided to spend it with bad stuff.
    Right now I’m watching two brothers and he was there also John the king (if I reckon the name but I don’t remember we’ll the movie so I’m sorry if I did a mistake) he was good but there’s is something about him that it bother me.
    Nice article I will try to follow you.

    Ps. By the way do you know what happened to whoopi Goldberg? She remind me of Danny devito (the way they left their career but when they appeard is like a good “welcome”)


    • I’m glad you’re enjoying the site.

      Oscar aside, Whoopi was always more of a personality than an actress. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a talented actress. But she is a big personality who could be hard to cast. Factor in age, race and having a unique screen persona and I imagine roles bacame harder to come by. However, she did successfully transition into being a TV personality on The View and other shows.


  54. Val Kilmer’s performance as Doc Holliday in Tombstone was perfect. Unfortunately, Tommy Lee Jones won the Oscar for “The Fugitive” that year and I don’t even think Kilmer was nominated. Kilmer just became too full of himself (his over-the-top performance in “The Saint” proved that…) and you are right on that nobody in Hollywood wants to “play” with him anymore. By the way, couldn’t find a way to email you on this blog. why not add a a “Whatever the Hell Happened to” suggestion box for your subscribers? There are several personalities I’d like to suggest or find out where they are now. Great job; love your blog (it’s the only one to which I subscribe).


    • Thanks for the kind words. I’m glad you’ve been enjoying the site.

      Generally, I try to keep up with the comments section. And I do take suggestions I receive there. I recently set up an e-mail address for Le Blog. But due to computer issues, I haven’t been checking it yet. If you’d like to e-mail me, feel free to do so at


  55. I don’t know how I ended up on this site, but I enjoyed the article and accompanying blast from the past sensations remembering these films (funny, I liked The Saint. A lot.)
    Val Kilmer looks suspiciously like he has an autoimmune disease, not just overweight. You notice with Kathleen Turner, for example, that she looks puffy and bloated… and she has RA. Val Kilmer looks that way, too, and in some of his photos he has what looks like a rosy “butterfly rash” across his cheeks and the bridge of his nose that would be indicative of lupus. I have both RA and lupus, I wouldn’t wish that to happen to anyone.


    • I’m glad you found us and that you’re enjoying the site.

      I’m unaware of Kilmer having any physical illness. Clearly, he has addition issues and very likely mental ones as well. It’s possible he’s hiding physical problems like you have described. Turner managed to keep her illness a secret for a long time. But I suspect the symptoms you are describing have more to do with the chemicals he has been ingesting than an actual disease.


  56. I have always liked Val Kilmer, and for the most part I still do. True he is on a downward spiral, but i think that is true of a lot of celebrities. I have a feeling (dont ask how I know this, I dont), but I think he will make a come-back. I also believe he is losing weight. I have seen some recent pics of him and he looks a little slimmer. Has he remarried? Just wondering to who?


    • I don’t know about a comeback, but I do know Kilmer has not remarried.

      As always, I wish him the best.


      • Yeah, all that direct to DVD schlock he did probably ruined any chance at a comeback. He could wind up doing cameos in some popular films down the road, but I doubt he’ll be the headlining star.


  57. I like your new avatar, by the way.


    • Thanks. I figured it was time for something a little more suitable for this site.

      I won’t even tell you how long it took me to change it. Or what the incredibly stupid hang-up was.


  58. Could you do a WTHHT Christian Slater? I just watched a True Romance trailer and he was really awesome in that one, alongside Kilmer’s cameo Elvis role 🙂


  59. If your ever watching Heat keep a close eye on kilmer in a few scenes try to look at his elbow IT IS ALL MESSED UP LOOKING I hope someone watches it and sees it. It looks like the worst case of swellbow I have ever seen 😉


  60. You sir, are an idiot. Did you get your information from Star magazine? I have been a close friend of Val’s since 1985 and nearly everything you wrote is incorrect! Val saw this page and asked me to reply for him. If you knew anything about being in the biz, and I mean being a very successful actor or songwriter (that would be me…200 million records sold and counting), you might have the RIGHT to speak about Val. Val is a Genius, and that is an almost impossible thing to be in Hollywood! Remember Eric Roberts?! Another close friend of mine. Val NEVER used drugs and was still in major demand after that dreadful Colin Farrell film. Val is very wealthy and he simply could not play the “kiss my backside 24/7” game. Val was satisfied with being in CLASSIC films such as “Tombstone”, “The Doors” “Wonderland”, etc. He is now raking in the money taking a large number of points and a large salary in his direct to video films! Val is happy and will be coming back to make some very important/Brilliant indie films. The obsession with weight is sick these days. Tom Cruise has never made a watchable film and cannot act and the fight was not over a volleyball game. The fight was because of Tom’s constant homosexual attacks toward Val. He simply would not take no from Val and put his hands on Val once too often. In the end, you are one of those people who hides behind a computer and loves when a star is having a hard time (or in Val’s case, when you think a star has fallen). Get a life or better yet…..Shut the hell up. Regards, Anon (for Val Kilmer)


    • You must be quite a friend. I imaging that defending Val Kilmer on the internet must be a full time job. 😉

      You say that “everything” I wrote is incorrect, but you haven’t given one specific inaccuracy. In fact, you confirmed the fight with Tom Cruise. What did I get wrong?

      Tell Val he should drop in and say “hi”. We’d love to hear from him.

      As always, these articles are written with warm regard and a sense of humor. As successful as Mr. Kilmer is/has been, I’m sure he can handle a gentle ribbing. (He gets far worse at other sites.)

      Thanks for dropping in. Even if it was for name calling and ranting.


    • Correction: Val is a Real Genius.


    • BTW is that you 50 Cent?


    • Wow. Some one is really upset. If you are a friend of Val Kilmer why didn’t you leave your name? Why sign Anon? Isn’t that short for Anonymous? Worried?


    • Yeah you *happend* to know val kilmer … 😛


  61. Val Kilmer is not your Huckleberry.

    A top-selling songwriter who’s touchy about weight, huh? I’m thinking Meatloaf…or Mariah Carey.


    • I’m sorry. I’m a little confused or maybe I am just out of the loop. I have heard a couple of times that Val Kilmer is a songwriter? I didn’t know that. What has he written and what has become of the songs?


  62. Val was great in “Top Secret” and “Real Genius”, and also loved his “Elvis” cameo in “True Romance”, I always thought he should have stuck to those types of comedic roles. I hope he can get healthy again and is able to make some sort of late-career comeback.


    • I agree. I think he is too good an actor to just disappear into oblivion. Hope he does make a come-back. By the way, I understand that there is going to be a Top Gun sequel. Will he be in that one?


      • I think Tom Cruise has a restraining order. 😉


        • He does? What a rip-off. It would be interesting to see that one if he did appear. Fireworks all over the place. How funny.


        • I’m kidding about the restrianing order. But they have a long-standing fued after a shoving match on the set of Top Gun. Odds are that Kilmer will be excluded from any and all Tom Cruise projects forever.


        • Damn. Like I said, that would be a good one. Oh well. I really do hope that Val would make a come-back, but I think odds are against it. Too Bad.


        • Never say never. But Kilmer’s chances of a mainstream comeback are only slightly better than Sean Young’s.


        • If Val Kilmer is the King of What the Hell Happened, Sean Young is the queen.

          Read all about her here. She even made a guest appearance in the comments section.


        • Sean Young? Is she the one who starred with Bill Murray and Harold Ramis in Stripes as one of the MPS? If that is her then that is the last thing I have seen her in. Wow, what did happen to her? And for that matter PJ Soles? Rmember her?


        • That’s her. Wow, you ditched on Young early. She went on to have a pretty successful career for a while in the 80s. But then she had some very public embrassaments and substance abuse problems that basically got her blackballed. Not to toot my own horn, but I’d definitely recommend reading the whole WTHH article on Young. Hers is one of the most interesting.

          Sure, I saw PJ Soles on a documentary about Halloween. Believe it or not, she’s still out there working. Just not in mainstream movies.


        • Sounds very interesting. I definitely will read about Sean Young. You dont have a WTHH to PJ Soles do you? I’d be interested to know whats going on with her.


        • At present, I don’t. But I did check her Wikipedia entry. It looks like she has kept working largely based on her scream queen status from Halloween.


        • O.K. Anyway, so what is Val up to now? Anything? Anything worth mentioning or for that matter worth watching?


        • He does a lot of direct-to-video movies. Some aren’t half bad. Most are just plain awful. He also did a one-man show as Mark Twain. He’s got himself in a bit of a financial pickle with back child support. So he’ll basically do any job that pays the bills.


  63. Hi Lebeau!

    I stumbled onto your site when I happened to do a search for WTHH to Michael Keaton. I’ve been perusing other articles on your blog ever since. I must say that I enjoy your writing, so thank you for taking the time to do this!

    Slight nitpick on this article because I am a New Orleanian (and annoying): “Eventually, they just went ahead and made him Bacchus at Mardis Gras for Fat Tuesday in 2009.” That should actually read that they made him King of Bacchus- Bacchus being the name of that particular Krewe/parade. 😉

    Since I see you take suggestions, might I request Cuba Gooding Jr.?

    Thanks again!


    • Hey,

      I’m glad you have been enjoying the articles. Thanks for reading! And thanks for the tip. I will update the article immediately.

      I keep forgetting I haven’t already done Cuba Gooding. He’s a perfect fit for this series, no doubt.

      I’ve been slacking on the WTHH articles for the last month or so. But they will be coming back to the forefront as soon as I finish my WDW trip report and start winding down my weekly recaps of The Walking Dead and American Horror Story. I expect to get to Gooding early next year.


  64. I enjoyed reading all the posts. I would hope that Val would have a resurrection of his career and that 13 could be his lucky number, as in 2013. I can’t help but feel that Sean Young’s career started and end with her role in Blade Runner. Certainly she was no Ingrid Bergman. However she did a good job as a conflicted heroine. Bergman’s Role in Notorious was stronger. I do believe that there is a future for Ms Young. After all Jamie Lee Curtis did find her way back, short stent with NCIS.


    • I’m glad you enjoyed the articles.

      I think both Kilmer and Young have an uphill battle if they want to come back. Both have personal issues they need to deal with before Hollywood will welcome them back.


  65. According to Val Kilmer, he was in a scheduling conflict between “Batman & Robin” and “The Saint”. He claims (on the special edition DVD for “Batman & Robin” for instance) that neither he nor his agent were aware of Warner Bros.’ plans of fast-tracking the production process from three years to two. Of course, knowing how badly things turned out w/ “Batman & Robin”, it’s easy to believe that Val ultimately “escaped a bullet”.


  66. Great article. Extremely well written and genuinely hilarious!


  67. I recently posted a link to this article to Val Kilmer’s IMDb message board. The first person to reply to me said that he/she believes that Val just decided to take on roles that interested him instead of taking “boring predictable leading man roles” (a la “Batman Forever”). As much as they may provide big pay days, the roles he’s taken since 2002 perhaps obviously please him as an actor more. Meanwehile, Val has still kept his hand in some big screen releases such as “The Missing”, “Spartan”, “Alexander”, “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”, “Deja Vu”, “Bad Lieutenant”, “MacGruber”, etc.


    • I think there may be some small amount of truth to that. Kilmer gravitated towards projects that interested him. But I don’t think he intended to walk away from mainstream movies in favor of direct-to-DVD crap.


      • I agree. I don’t think he planned to do Direct-to Dvd’s either.


        • I hear this excuse a lot from fans of celeb’s whose careers have cooled. And I will acknowledge that a lot of celebs eventually decide it is time to concentrate on something other than being an A-list star. That’s healthy. But usually it comes at a time when the career was cooling off anyway.

          In Kilmer’s case, why would he voluntarily decide to make exclusively bad movies?


        • Why would he then?


        • He slowly alienated most of Hollywood. They put up with it when he was considered a draw at the box office. But as his wasit expanded and his grosses shrunk, they decided they didn’t need him anymore. Problem is, Kilmer owes taxes, child support, etc. So he needs to keep working to pay the bills. His options dried up to the point where crappy direct-to-DVD movies are his only steady paycheck.

          Tale as old as time.



          Yes. I agree.  What a shame though. lebeau’s


        • It is a shame. He’s an extremely talented guy. Even now. When you see him in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang or even Bad Lieutenant, he’s still a lot of fun to watch. But he’s languishing in terrible movies.



          Yep. Too bad he couldn’t come back and make another movie like Tombstone.  What an awesome movie that was. One of my favorites. lebeau’s


      • Yeah, even if you’re a fan of Val’s it’s kind of ignorant to easily dismiss all of the “Val is difficult to work with” allegations and its possibly negative impact on his career as a mainstream star.


  68. Just saw Kilmer and Robert Downey, Jr. in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang – great performance by both actors – enjoyable movie


  69. In a weird way, Val Kilmer’s “fall from grace” reminds me of Steven Seagal’s (whom I posted on Lebeau’s Facebook page would make a great WTHHT subject). Both the biggest movies in Val Kilmer and Steven Seagal’s careers (“Batman Forever” and “Under Siege” respectively) oddly enough, featured Tommy Lee Jones as an antagonist. Both Val and Steven you can argue, developed reputations for being prima-donnas at the height of their fame/success. Both Val wound up co-starring w/ popular hip-hop artists (e.g. LL Cool J and 50 Cent for Val and DMX and Ja Rule for Steven). Both Val and Steven became incredibly out of shape and in the process, relegated to making a bunch of direct-to-DVD movies.


    • I have heard that Tommy Lee Jones will not admit to having worked with Seagal. The only reason I haven’t done a Seagal write-up yet is that I’m just not a fan. Same with Van Damme. I haven’t seen very many of their movies and I don’t really want to make myself watch them.

      I never realized Seagal and Kilmer had so much in common. Funny.


      • Another “Bad Movie Beatdown” of a Steven Seagal movie:


      • They Believed The Hype (And It Blew Up In Their Face): 15 Celebrities Whose Careers Were Hurt By Hubris:

        Steven Seagal was Jean-Claude Van Damme’s main competition in the 90s. While the actor wouldn’t blow his career in request for an inflated paycheck, his attempt at being a multifaceted writer-actor-director-producer blew up in his face. Keep in mind, Seagal’s career began as a whim—mega producer Michael Ovitz put the akido martial arts master into the lead of Above the Law despite the fact he had no prior acting experience. His career reached its zenith with the hit thriller Under Siege and Seagal was given 100% creative freedom on projects thereafter. Subsequently his films became excess-filled caricatures of his former work. Though audiences tolerated his environmentally conscious, Zen Buddhist themed films at first, the one-two punch of On Deadly Ground and Fire Down Below proved Seagal’s messages clashed with his ultra-violent action scenes. The actor subsequently gained weight and was retired alongside Van Damme to direct-to-video fare in the 2000s.


      • Craig Hansen

        Steven Seagal would make for a great write-up here on WTHH. Besides the rise and fall story to his career (I don’t know if he was ever considered A-list, but from the late 80’s to mid 90’s he was definately a consistent box office draw), he also has a notorious ego, along with all the drama that goes along with it. John Leguizamo has a great story of Seagal physically assaulting him on the set of Executive Decision which you can easily find by Googling it (you can also find him telling the story on YouTube). Steven Seagal also hosted SNL once during his heyday, after which Lorne Michaels said he was so obnoxious and difficult to deal with that he was the worst host in the history of SNL That’s just scratching the surface. The stories go on and on with him.

        I understand not being very interested in doing a write-up of him since you’re not a fan, but there’s so much gold to be mined there it might be worth it to at least consider it.


        • I have always planned to feayure Seagal eventually. I just keep putting him off. Now you’ve piqued my interest with those bread crumbs. I may have to bump Seagal up in the roster. I’ll be the first to admit he’s long overdue.

          Thanks for the inspiration. I’ve got a busy weekend coming up, so this will probably be at least a week off. But it’s coming soon.


        • elightweightvacuumcleaners

          I’m looking forward to the write up. I know someone who worked with him over here in the UK and obnoxious is an understatement. 🙂 Be sure to mention the hair as there’s something going on up there that deserves some attention.


        • How could I not? 😉


        • I recall that when Nicolas Cage hosted “SNL” during I think, the cold opening, Cage was worried that he might come across as the biggest jerk to ever guest host the show to which Lorne Michaels replied that actually the biggest jerk to ever guest host was Steven Seagal.


        • Have never seen so much as a trailer of any Segal movies.


        • I have seen very few. I saw Under Siege 2 at a $1 theater. I saw the one he did with Kurt Russell where he died early on because I had a bet based solely on the movie poster that he would die early on. I saw Machete. Off the top of my head, that’s it. And I don’t plan to watch any more for the article. Sounds like I’ll have enough other material I won’t have to.


        • That’s a hell of a record to hold considering the jerks who have behaved badly hosting SNL.


        • Craig Hansen

          Steven Seagal is a really interesting case. Prior to his big-screen debut in Above The Law, he had never acted before. Not a supporting role, not a bit part, not a tv commercial, not even as an extra. Nothing. Hollywood power agent Michael Ovitz thought his Akido instructor Seagal had something about him, and got him the lead in his first movie. That’s pretty crazy, lead role in a movie as your first acting gig ever when he was a complete unknown. By the way, if you do decide to watch at least one Seagal movie for your research, I do recommend Above The Law, it’s a good dramatic action movie for what it is, and you’ll also see WTHH member Sharon Stone make an appearance as Seagal’s wife here. Worth a rental at least, better than the average martial arts flick.


        • Seagal’s discovery is the stuff of Hollywood legend. It’s old school. They don’t amke em like that anymore.

          I have heard good things about Above the Law. If time permits, I’ll check it out.

          I have to admit, I’m really looking forward to tackling this one.


        • Under all the wwthht supposedly about Val Kilmer, why is everyone talking about Steven Segal?  The guy is an Ahole. lebeau’s


        • It’s pretty common practice around here. I allow and even participate in the thread drift. We’ve been talking Val Kilmer for a couple years now. Plus, off-topic comments frequently turn into future articles. It’s how we roll.

          Why? Did you have anything to say about Mr. Kilmer?


        • No. You’re right, he is pretty much talked out. I was just wondering.


  70. Ah, the sensitive nature of the Artiste! kidding aside, I can only imagine that with that many creative personalities on a screen project, clashes might be the norm rather than the exception. But i would have no idea.
    I did like Val Kilmer very much as Jim Morrison, thought he did an amazing job. (To me, Meg Ryan was not as good of a casting choice to play Morrison’s GF Pamela Courson That part screamed out for a tempestuous redhead, not America’s sweetheart). Playing Morrison, himself a creative genius and over the top personality, would not have been done that well with any actor other than Kilmer. Plus there was just enough physical resemblance to cement the authenticity factor. Wasn’t Oliver Stone the director? There was definite director/actor magic in that movie. Maybe it’s because I was a Doors fan back in the day.


    • I was too. I still am a big doors fan. I thought Kilmer did a fantastic job in that movie. I am still a big fan of Kilmer’s too. I think he’s an amazing actor.


  71. FRC’s Fallen Icon #2 – Val Kilmer:

    In July 1994, it was announced that Kilmer would be taking over the role of Batman/Bruce Wayne from Michael Keaton.

    This may have been the beginning of the downward spiral for the star. Schumacher reports os him being very difficult on set and states that the arguments often turned into shoving matches. The outcome of this is that he was dropped from the role of Batman after only one film.

    Then again, the start of Kilmer’s decline, it could be argued, began with the ill-fated “The Island of Dr. Moreau,” a film that became a running joke within the world of Hollywood due to on set antics of Val Kilmer and also of his co star Marlon Brando

    Kilmer was difficult, demanded to switch roles and even got one director fired from the project. Director John Frankenheimer is quoted often saying…

    “I don’t like Val Kilmer, I don’t like his work ethic, and I don’t want to be associated with him ever again.”

    All of this bad boy behaviour would have just gone away and been laughed at if the film was a hit, but it bombed and threw everyone under the bus who was involved, adding a scar to all who took part.

    Combine that with disappointing returns for “The Saint” and “The Ghost and The Darkness,” and the A List opportunities for Kilmer pretty much dried up. No one wanted to be seen working with him.

    Every now and then, Kilmer would pop up in a juicy role – 2003′s “Wonderland,” and 2005′s “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang” for instance – but it wasn’t enough to get Kilmer consistent work.

    Kilmer has managed to stay out of the lime light more recently, living in New Mexico, he also played Moses in a costly stage version of The Ten Commandments, and my favourite of it all he voiced KITT in the horrid “Knight Rider” remake – but hasn’t broken through with another strong role.

    Instead, he’s made a staggering amount of movies that go straight to your DVD store shelf, films way below the talents of an intensely talented and well trained method actor like Kilmer. Who knows, maybe he justenjoys keeping busy?

    We saw him again in “Bad Lieutenant” which was another pop at a return to Hollywood’s good side, although the film itself was made by, Werner Herzog, and stars the mental Nicholas Cage, Kilmer didn’t come crashing back through the doors into the publics good books.


    Well a few things actually, mainly it was his attitude. He was such a slave to his trade, throwing himself into the roles so hard that he would become impossible to handle. In an industry full of Divas and Prima Donnas Val Kilmer put them all to shame. He was the ultimate Diva. No one wanted to work with him.

    But I think he deserves to get a comeback? No? He needs to do a bit of soul-searching and realise that we do not owe him a career, but when he was good he was good. Come on Kilmer sort it out!!


  72. 25 A-List Hollywood Actors Who Fell the F Off:

    Val Kilmer
    Best Known For: Willow (1988), Tombstone (1993), Heat (1995)
    Most Recent Project: Riddle (2013)

    Kilmer’s career had an auspicious start, as he was the youngest actor ever accepted to Julliard, but it didn’t take long before he solidified his reputation for being difficult to work with. Rumors of a rivalry between Kilmer and Tom Cruise during the filming of Top Gun swirl to this day; the two supposedly brawled when the cameras were off.

    In his 2001 book, Which Lie Did I Tell, William Goldman went into vivid detail regarding Kilmer’s problematic behavior on the set of The Ghost and the Darkness. After a string of notorious tantrums on the set of The Island of Dr. Moreau, Kilmer was lectured by Brando to not confuse his talent with the size of his paycheck.

    Even the most talented actors can’t burn that many bridges, and outside of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Kilmer’s career has slowed to a crawl after two decades of dickishness.


  73. Batman in 1990s: Val Kilmer & George Clooney:

    There are several versions as to why Michael Keaton didn’t reprise his role as Batman. Keaton says that he wasn’t interested in the brighten up take on the character and in the new direction the series was taking, Schumacher claims that he was fired. One thing that’s certain is that the movie was indeed greenlit with Micheel Keaton attached to the project.

    Not only does Schumacher have Burton’s blessing (”I wouldn’t have approached it if Tim wasn’t supportive of the idea,” he says), but he has Michael Keaton’s as well. ”Schumacher can make Batman sexier and more heroic,” says Harry Colomby, a partner in Keaton’s production company. ”Burton is not the hero type. His heart beats for the outsider-look at Edward Scissorhands.” Keaton, who made $5 million for Batman and $10 million for the sequel, could earn as much as $15 million this time out of the Batcave. ”The predisposition for Michael is always to do Batman,” says Colomby. Also watch for Keaton, who had to share the spotlight with those cute penguins in Batman Returns, to be more of a player in the next installment.(Entertainment Weekly Oct. 1993)

    There are many versions as to what happened next though

    Despite the success of the first two Batman movies, Michael Keaton passed over Batman Forever, convinced that there would be little reward in reprising the character again. Now, he is intent on moving on (Film Review Special #12)

    Michael Keaton: To lighten up and brighten it up and be a cartoon was of no interest to me (Batman:The Complete History)

    He also did acknowledge that he was in talks at one point
    Michael Keaton: I knew we were in trouble in talks for the third one when certain people started the conversation with ‘Why does it have to be so dark?’ ‘Why does he have to be so depressed?’ ‘Shouldn’t there be more color in this thing?’ I knew I was headed for trouble and that it wasn’t a road I was going to go down.” (La Times 2011)

    Keaton talked about everything including why he “walked away” from “Batman Forever”: “Apparently not for me.” He said he has “personal” things to do, like time with his young son, as well as wanting to pursue “more interesting roles.” (Variety Nov. 1994)

    According to one source close to the production, Keaton, who starred in 1989’s Batman and 1992’s Batman Returns (which earned a combined $414 million), was making some thorny demands. ”He wanted $15 million,” says the insider. ”He wanted a chunk of the gross, he wanted a chunk of merchandising.”
    The Keaton camp strongly denies the showdown was about salary alone. ”Money was never the issue,” says Keaton’s producing partner, Harry Colomby. ”Not doing this movie means he probably gave up $30 million, based on his back-end deal.” According to a source, Keaton was concerned that the Batman juggernaut was rolling without any input from its star.

    Making matters worse was an increasingly tense relationship between Keaton and the film’s new kingpin, Joel Schumacher, who replaced Keaton’s friend Tim Burton as director. ”[After one meeting with Schumacher] Michael was not feeling confident,” says the Keaton source. ”Creatively, it wasn’t happening. He was worried that the character he’d lived with for two films wasn’t going to be developed the way he wanted it to be developed.” As the script was being revised, ”no one ever called [Keaton] to say, ‘Wait! You’ve got to see this!’ Or, ‘Wait ’til you see what we’ve got for Batman!”’ (Film Review July 1994)

    O: Did you have the option to cast Michael Keaton in the third one?
    Joel Schumacher: Yes. We were actually making it with Michael Keaton, but his demands were so ridiculous that Warner had to fire him. I inherited him. I was given Michael. By the time he was fired, I was saying, “Val Kilmer, Val Kilmer, Val Kilmer.” I was saying, “Let’s go younger.” I’m always saying “Let’s go younger” on my movies.
    O: What do you think Val Kilmer brought to the role of Batman? Joel Schumacher: Well, he was a very handsome Batman. I think that Batman Forever was an excellent Batman comic book. (AV Club int 2003)
    Joel Schumacher: Bruce Wayne has always been glamorous and attractive and charming on one level and then dark and tortured underneath and I knew Val could play all those sides (Anthology)

    Joel Schumacher’s movies were more so a reboot rather than a continuation. The series was only linked to the original movies by two supporting actors (Pat Hingle and Michael Gough) and one sentence alluding to Catwoman.

    Batman Forever’s take on Batman is in some ways similar, but in many more ways vastly different then the character presented by Tim Burton and Michael Keaton. One of the similarities is the character’s internal pain and pathos, which was a target of discussion even before the script has been written between the writers, Joel Schumacher and Tim Burton who served as one of the producers on the movie.

    Val Kilmer: Hes traumatized from his youth and its certainly a fundamental fear you’re gonna lose your parents, raised by someone else,’ lonely, angry and theres a goodness in him he wants to right wrongs (Anthology)

    Joel Schumacher: I wanted to add mythic qualities to our story of batman and so there is a struggle for Bruce Wayne to find his identity (Anthology)

    Val Kilmer did a good job in projecting a character that’s deeply depressed the time. Goldsman said that the character was driven by guilt, blaming himself for the death of his parents

    Mike Mignola: You look at Val Kilmer and you think what the hell is that guy thinking cause certain actors had this thing when you look at them and you know the wheels are turning in there (Anthology)

    This Batman is also a very good detective who works with his mind using intelligence and deductive thinking (he solved Riddler’s riddles instantly and along with Chase figured out very fast why Two Face attacked this particular bank on this particular day). He also seems to be skilled in many different areas including technology.

    However, this is where the similarities end and where a completely different take on the character comes to light. This take on the Batman world is completely different – it isn’t a Gothic story, nor is it a fairy tale kind of approach. According to the producers, Joel wanted a new style for Batman and that was Pop. As one of the producers, explained it:

    Peter Scott (producer) : It’s Saturday Night Fever on acid (Anthology)

    Joel Schumacher: My job was to put everything new that I could (Anthology)

    Schumacher eschewed the dark, dystopian atmosphere of Burton’s earlier films. Instead, he drew inspiration directly from the source: the Batman comic book he admits to loving as a kid [the late 1940’s/early 1950’s Dick Sprang run]. (…) “What you see is color, great graphics, exciting action sequences and humor.” (Variety 1997)

    While Bob Kane worked on Batman Forever as well, he also thought that Batman Returns was a bit too dark even for his tastes and agreed that a brighter direction should be taken

    Elizabeth Kane: Bob thought that because the second one perhaps had moments a little too dark, then the third one should be a little more upbeat, not like the TV show by any means, but a little bit more lighter, brighter (Anthology)

    Michale Gough: Tim is more a psychological thriller and Joel is more viewing thriller (Anthology)

    With the extravagant, pop approach, it was just natural that not only the tone but the characters will change too. Since Gothic element was dropped completely, so were the characteristics of Gothic literature
    First of all, Batman was no longer mysterious and puzzling, and is now a conventional main character .He wasn’t psychotic anymore either. As oppose to Keaton’s portrayal, this Batman wasn’t a psycho consumed by the monster he was holding within who was taking him over whom he tried to fight, he was doing what he was doing because it was his choice

    Joel Schumacher: He has a choice as a man now whether to continue to be Batman or not (Anthology)

    Val Kilmer: He’s disgustingly wealthy (…) what he chooses to do with his free time is fight an impossible battle against the crime of the city that is corrupt (Anthology)

    From the script:
    Poor, Edward. I had to save them
    both. You see, I am Bruce Wayne and
    Batman. Not because I have to be.
    But because I choose to be.

    This Batman was simply a hurt Bruce Wayne who was putting on a costume to fight crime

    Gough & Millar (Smallville producers): Val Kilmer felt more haunted but heroic. He was comfortable with his wealth, Michael Keaton’s interpretation was he was never comfortable in his own skin and never comfortable with all of this stuff which has basically come from his parents (Anthology)

    This Bruce also wasn’t a loner or a creature of the shadows. As already mentioned, he was simply a depressed and hurt crime fighter in a bat costume. This time he had no problems at all landing and talking in the middle of the crowd in full light in costume…

    …and as oppose to his previous incarnation, didn’t mind the crowds outside of the costume either inviting Chase to a big, loud and crowded event that is Gotham’s Hippodrome Circus and to Nygma’s party.

    He was also a public persona this time, overlooking Wayne Enterprise and appearing on official galas and on many magazine covers

    This Bruce and Batman is very open and there’s no anger in him at all, just sadness. He isn’t a creature of few words anymore, but a caped and cooperative crime fighter – after all, the signal was now on top of Gordon’s quarters implying that the two are collaborating together. This Batman is not only talkative in and outside of the costume, but has a knack for cheesy jokes as well – “You trying to get under my cape?”, “It’s the car, chicks dig the car”, “I’ll get drive through”, “Try a fireman. Less to take off.” It’s interesting to note that Kilmer’s Batman is more open then his Wayne side

    For Kilmer’s part, he makes as good a case for himself as did Roger Moore in his first Bond movie. Keaton may have had the edge in psychological complexity, but Kilmer has nicer lips, and lips are important to a masked Batman.
    Keaton’s was a quirky, middle-aged, almost unreachable Bruce Wayne. Kilmer’s Bruce Wayne is younger and more handsome, and though he’s morose and unsmiling, you get the feeling most of his problems would be solved if only he got with the right girlfriend. (Film Review 1995)

    While the previous Batman was a loner who wanted to be alone all the time and even stayed away from Alfred, this Batman, while originally receptive to the idea, accepted a young man as a crime fighting partner and welcomed him as a teammate.

    In Dick he saw a young version of himself, and someone driven by pain who wants revenge. Still, he was rejecting the idea of endangering Dick by making him a teammate based on the danger factor and the boy’s anger driven motivation, but as soon as he recognized his physical abilities and newly found focus he welcomed him in the “bat family”

    He welcomes a partner as Batman and he also welcomes one as Bruce Wayne. He was willing to get involved with the seductive Chase, giving her a considerable amount of attention and being clearly affected by her charms. After he first saw her as Batman he was already enthralled by her and booked a visit in her office. Then even kissed her as Batman and accepted her night invitation, trying to connect with her as both batman and Bruce Wayne (by inviting her on a date)

    Kilmer’s Batman also had a thing for extravagant and flashy designer gadgets. This time his cave isn’t a cold, wet, bat filled cave with a couple of rusty catwalks and a console, it was fully customized, filled with neons , customized construction and flashy gadgets like the rotating platform displaying glowing, logo filled Batmobile like at a car show

    This Batman also has a very strong moral code which heavily goes against killing. He explains to Dick that if you kill once and you cross that line, there’s no going back

    From the script:
    We don’t kill. Killing is what damns you

    At the end, Bruce is willing to spent his life with Chase and he’s able to put his demons behind him, giving Chase her doll back saying that he’s not gonna be needing it anymore. He made a peace with himself


    • Joel Schumacher’s Batman: 6 Things He Did Better Than Nolan:

      5. He Cast Val Kilmer As Bruce Wayne/Batman

      Let me preface this by saying I’m am not making an argument about who is the better Batman. All I intend to do is put some Whatculture! readers wise to what I consider a very underrated performance by Val Kilmer. The fact that the performance in question happens to be Batman is a coincidence, however, since I know a lot of you out there will probably wonder where my preferences lie I’ll acquiesce and give my choice for who is the best Batman ever. What follows is a list of actors who’ve portrayed the iconic character numbered 1 thru 7 with 1 being the best and 7 being the worst.

      Kevin Conroy
      Micheal Keaton
      Val Kilmer
      Adam West
      Lewis Wilson
      George Clooney
      Christian Bale

      Now onto the real subject: the criminally underrated performance of Val Kilmer in Batman Forever. Once again, like with the Riddler we have a case of hindsight hater-ade going on. Val Kilmer’s performance, when assessed upon the initial release of the film, was generally favorable. While not considered to be an improvement over Keaton he certainly wasn’t a downgrade, and if the movie had any faults it wasn’t in his performance. Now, when viewed through the prism of the Dark Nolan era it seems as if Kilmer’s interpretation of Bruce Wayne/Batman was never any good at all. Of course it doesn’t receive the same amount of hate as the Clooney’s Batman but in the same way it has come to be unappreciated and disregarded on grounds that are unfair and ridiculous (not dark enough, too much humor, not enough brooding, bat nipples).

      Why, may I ask, it is so bad for a little bit of levity to be part of Batman’s persona? Yes, I understand that he is a dark vigilante who uses fear as a means of striking terror in his enemies, but that doesn’t mean he can’t occasionally let a bit of humor into his visage. If not only for his own sake then for the audiences. Too much doom and gloom wears on an audience and can make the movie watching experience unbearable. Also performances that rely too much on overbearing drama can come kind of (unintentionally) silly:

      See what I mean? That’s a Batman who takes himself way too seriously (I know, I know……Why so serious ). Even the most stalwart fans of Nolan’s Batman admitted that Bale’s performance was a bit over the top. I know Batman has this dark image to uphold but too much of that stuff is just unnatural. People understand that no person can be all doom and gloom all the time. Even Batman. In order for the Dark Knight to be a bit more of a believable character moments of levity must be implemented into his character.

      Tim Burton Understood this:

      Joel Schumacher Understood it:

      Nolan clearly didn’t:

      And please, don’t for a moment think that Kilmer (like Carrey) couldn’t turn on the menace when he had to. It’s just that Schumacher, unlike Nolan, had enough sense not to let it get out of hand. By making room for a bit of levity he was able to direct Kilmer toward a more balanced and accessible portrayal of the Dark Knight. As a result his incarnation (along with Keaton’s) remains as impressive today as it did in back in 95 while Bale’s interpretation of the caped crusader has already lapsed into parody.


    • Batman: The Joel Schumacher Years:

      Val Kilmer took over as Bruce Wayne / Batman. His interpretation of Bruce was closer to the comics than Michael Keaton’s in that he portrayed a brooding and lonely orphan who knew to always keep up his public image as a dashing playboy. Bruce Wayne was a recluse in the two Tim Burton movies, but in Joel Schumacher’s Gotham City, Bruce is the toast of the town. Conversely, Val Kilmer’s Batman was lacking in my opinion. He didn’t really seem like a “Dark Knight,” especially when comparing him to Michael Keaton. Once the cape and cowl went on, Val Kilmer came across as a generic Saturday morning cartoon superhero. It’s a good thing that he’d already played Doc Holiday to perfection in “Tombstone” and built up a lot of goodwill. I’m not going to comment on the nipples or enlarged codpieces that defined the Batman and Robin costumes in this flick. Enough had been said and written about over the years in regards to bat-nipples.


  74. Pretty simple. When you get older your organs just don’t handle the crap you eat. Most people when young can eat lots of crap and not get fat (some do). As we get old and depending on our genes our body becomes less resilient and the organs and digestive capacity diminishes. Now ask how can he and other reverse this? It’s called eat more raw foods and less overall. By detoxifying the body and balancing our diet with more fresh red meat, vegetables, moderate fruit and seeds we can regain our youthful vitality and turn back the clock a bit. We can never go back to eating like we did or we will quickly revert back to our dying self. Learning to relax, work smart and take control of our lives is also a big plus. Stress and chasing the almighty dollar also has a toll on us.


    • Yes. But will he? I have recently seen some pics of him and he has slimmed down considerably. Now if only he could resurrect that career of his he would be in great shape.


  75. The Downfall Of Val Kilmer – A Study In Posters:

    Val Kilmer is an a mystery wrapped in an enigma surrounded by confoundment, currently buried in a heap of cinematic tragedy.

    Admit it. If you think of your all time favorite movies — I don’t mean the most respectable movies, necessarily, but the most fun movies on your list, I’m willing to bet all of the money in my wallet (four dollars) that he’s in at last one of them. Not to say that he hasn’t made some respectable movies, too — The Doors, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang — but mostly, Val Kilmer has just been fun. Nowadays… yeesh.

    Now, I’m also something of a nut for things like movie trailers and posters, so I figured (inspired by commenter klingonfree) we’d do a little study on Kilmer’s steady decline using posters as our guide.


  76. He’s done and gone to hell I’m afraid.


  77. Val Kilmer is Mark Twain in “Citizen Twain.”:

    What’s kind of funny is that the person in reply #6 said that Val had a really solid career going and he had some great performances before Batman killed his rising star.


  78. 20 Movies That Made Us Think Differently About The Actors In Them (And Not In A Good Way):

    Val Kilmer has had something of a charmed career and is well liked by most movie buffs, but what was the last movie you saw him in? He’s been working, though he may be too pudgy to recognize in movies not worth remembering. Red Planet, was his A-list action star downfall. The movie was a fiscal disaster and if you remember, wasn’t all that good. But you probably don’t remember–and that’s the point.


    • 15 Career-Ending Movies:

      Red Planet

      Career Ruined: Val Kilmer

      Remember the last movie Val Kilmer was in? Yeah neither does anyone else. Quick name a movie besides Batman that starred Val Kilmer and came out this millennia. Yeah neither can anyone else, but would you believe he’s made dozens? (Okay you get bonus points if you remembered Kiss Kiss Bang Bang). Red Planet was the last gasp attempt to turn Val Kilmer into an action star. It was a big fat expensive failure that pretty much dragged Kilmer’s career down with it.

      Quick, name an activity that Kilmer has undertaken in the past decade other than becoming impossibly rotund? (Trick question, there is no answer).


      • Wow.  Somebody doesn’t like Val Kilmer.  But some of us do.  I still think he could do something good.  But, maybe not.  No one knows for sure.  But it would sure be nice.  How about saying something nice about the guy instead of all this Val bashing?  Give the guy a break.  He may surprise all of us. lebeau’s


        • A lot of people don’t like Val Kilmer. But I’m not one of them. I love the guy! He’s my Gravatar!


        • Now if we can just convince everyone else. Haha. lebeau’s


        • I actually think most fans are rooting for the guy to pull himself together and start making good movies again. Most people who don’t like Kilmer are the ones who worked with him when he was being difficult.

          Like most of the people I have written about, I doubt Kilmer will ever return to superstardom. But if he could clean up a little, he could probably return to mainstream movies.


  79. Val Kilmer: What the Hell Happened?:

    Has there ever been a bigger waste of talent than Val Kilmer? The guy can do it all—comedy (he made a sidesplitting debut in the too-little-seen Top Secret!), action (he flew high as Iceman in Top Gun), crime dramas (he burned up the screen in Heat), Westerns (he should’ve gotten an Oscar nod as sickly Doc Holliday in Tombstone), musical biopics (he deservedly got a Best Actor nomination for his uncanny portrayal of Jim Morrison in The Doors). Yet soon after playing Bruce Wayne and his superhero alter ego in Joel Schumacher’s first Dark Knight pic in 1995, Kilmer went from Batman Forever to Fat Man Bore-ever.

    Now he’s officially become a joke, sporting long stringy hair and a cheesy pornstache as a Texas bank robber in the direct-to-DVD fiasco Breathless. (Not to be confused with Jean-Luc Godard’s original or Richard Gere’s laughable remake.) Kilmer gets killed off in the first half-hour, after his greedy wife (Gina Gershon) accidentally shoots him in the head, and much of the rest of the film deals with her attempts to dispose of his bloated body. Cowriter-director Jesse Baget is apparently shooting for a Coen Brothers-style dark farce, but he ends up with a brain-dead variation on Gershon’s far-superior Lone Star State crime story, William Friedkin’s Killer Joe.

    Kilmer and Gershon aren’t the only gifted performers squandered: SVU‘s Kelli Giddish (as an equally witless partner-in-crime) and Ray Liotta (as a good ol’ boy lawman) also fritter away their—and our—time. So when and why did it all start to go wrong for Kilmer? I blame Marlon Brando. After he costarred with the former Don Corleone in the ill-fated 1996 remake of The Island of Dr. Moreau, Kilmer seemed infected by Brando’s spirit, packing on the pounds, taking himself way too seriously (he flirted with a run for governor of New Mexico!) and developing a reputation for being difficult. “There are two things I will never do in my life,” Moreau director John Frankenheimer said. “I will never climb Mount Everest, and I will never work with Val Kilmer again. There isn’t enough money in the world.”

    Apparently, Frankenheimer wasn’t the only A-list filmmaker to feel this way. Aside from reteaming with The Doors‘ Oliver Stone as Colin Farrell’s father in the not-so-great biopic Alexander and Top Gun’s Tony Scott on the forgettable Deja Vu, Kilmer’s spent the last decade doing straight-to-video schlock and self-parodying cameos (villain Dieter Von Cunth in the bomb MacGruber). Now he’s found the perfect collaborator—himself—writing, directing and starring as Mark Twain in a one-man show which he may turn into a film. One can only hope that, to paraphrase Samuel Clemens, the reports of Kilmer’s career death have been greatly exaggerated and he’s still got at least one good movie left in him. After all, as he proved so many years ago, the guy can be a Real Genius.


  80. 10 Actors Who Are Nowhere Near As Great As They Used To Be:

    10. Val Kilmer

    Val Kilmer had the California surfer good looks when he broke into the scene in the Zuckerfest comedy Top Secret!. He was Ice Man in Top Gun, Mad Martigan in Willow and even took a turn as Batman. He got to hang with the heavyweights in Heat alongside Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. He was so good as Jim Morrison in the Doors – both in looks and talent – it appeared he was destined for a long life of top billing… even if it was only for a Doors Tribute Band.

    So what happened?

    Val’s a bit of an enigma. His career started to take a downturn after his divorce in 1995, shortly after appearing as Bruce Wayne in Batman Forever and the widely panned remake of The Saint. Rumors persisted that he was difficult to work with from early on his career, including nearly getting in a fist fight with Tom Cruise on Top Gun and not wishing to work with Joel Schumacker again after Batman, resulting in George Clooney driving the final nail in the coffin of the ’90s franchise. He has had some critical acclaim in smaller roles such as Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and even was the voice of KITT in the short-lived remake of Knight Rider. So there’s that.


    • 10 Awesome Actors Who Fell Hard From The Spotlight:

      4. Val Kilmer

      Despite being a well known actor, Val Kilmer never hit the heights he should have. An extraordinarily gifted actor (the youngest ever to be admitted to Julliard, KIlmer was able to marry that prodigious dramatic ability with pin-up looks.

      He started with the underrated Zucker and Abrahams comedy, Top Secret, and then completed every teenage girl’s wet dream by starring opposite Tom Cruise in Top Gun. Unfortunately, Val more less interested in chasing commercial vehicles and more interested in appearing in what took his fancy. And so he ended up in such less than thrilling The Man Who Broke 1000 Chains, Kill Me Again and Thunderheart. The one obviously commercial vehicle, Willow, never performed as had hoped but has become a firm home video favourite. Commendation for his acting chops came his way via Oliver Stone’s The Doors but the film underperformed, not helping Kilmer’s rise to the top of the food chain.

      In 1995, he snagged the lead role in Batman Forever yet relinquished the chance to star in further films in the franchise in favour of the lacklustre The Saint. Having said that, any regrets on his part were probably absolved the minute Batman and Robin was released.

      The same year he had a role in Heat – yet another revered film that didn’t do the business at the box office (and in Hollywood it’s all about the box office, baby!) – and so missed out on joining the likes of Schwarzenegger, Willis and Hanks at the top of the pile. And he didn’t help matters by making bad judgements when going for box office glory, such as The Island of Dr Moreau, At First Sight and Red Planet. But perhaps his worst move was signing on to the woeful Knight Rider reboot, as the voice of K.I.T.T.

      A glimpse of what the man could achieve was seen via his hilarious performance as Gay Perry in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Sure, the magic dialogue comes from uber screenwriter Shane Black but they were brought alive by Kilmer’s deadpan, withering delivery. Just three of my favourites:

      Harry: Is she dead?
      Perry: No, she’s just resting her eyes for a minute. Of course she’s fucking dead, her neck’s broken.

      Harry: Do you think I’m stupid?
      Perry: I don’t think you’d know where to put food at, if you didn’t flap your mouth so much. Yes I think you’re stupid.

      Perry: My $2000 ceramic Vektor my mother got me as a special gift. You threw in the lake next to the car. What happens when they drag the lake? You think they’ll find my pistol. Jesus. Look up “idiot” in the dictionary. You know what you’ll find?
      Harry: A picture of me?
      Perry: No! The definition of the word idiot, which you f**king are!

      If only Val had the commercial sensibilities of Tom Cruise, he’d have been – well – bigger than Tom Cruise.


  81. Five Actors You Should Never Fight for Creative Control:

    2. Val Kilmer

    Stories of Val Kilmer’s ornery attitude first appeared around the time of the aforementioned Island of Dr. Moreau. Val brought a boatload of problems to that movie, which he only agreed to do for the chance to work with Brando. Creative arguments lead to the firing of Moreau’s original director Richard Stanley three days into filming; Kilmer is said to have influenced that decision. Stanley was replaced by veteran John Frankenheimer, who fared no better with the irritable Kilmer, later remarking, “There are two things I will never ever do in my whole life: I will never climb Mt. Everest, and I will never work with Val Kilmer ever again.” Brando himself was on the director’s side, telling Kilmer he was “confusing [his] talents with the size of [his] paycheck.” Directors as varied as Oliver Stone and Joel Schumacher have reported similar difficulties with Val; he apparently stopped speaking to Schumacher for two weeks during the making of Batman Forever because the director had reprimanded him over his verbal abuse of a low-ranking crew member. The actor has waged a few insane battles offscreen as well; his relationship with supermodel Cindy Crawford hit a rocky patch when he objected to the logo on a hat she once wore in public, and more recently he was forced to apologize for referring to his current home of San Miguel County, NM, as “the homicide capital of the Southwest” where “eighty percent of the people… are drunk.”


  82. 15 Directors Unceremoniously Fired Or Replaced On A Movie:

    “The Island of Dr. Moreau” (1996)

    Original Director: Richard Stanley

    Replacement Director: John Frankenheimer

    What Happened: Stanley, a South African music video director and cult sensation for a pair of high-minded genre oddities (“Hardware” and “Dust Devil”), had been developing a new version of “The Island of Dr. Moreau” for more than four years, finally securing a green light from New Line Cinema and the participation of Marlon Brando, who had agreed to play the titular doctor who created a colony of animal/human hybrids on his own private island. Val Kilmer, who was originally scheduled to play the role that wound up being portrayed by David Thewlis, was even more difficult than normal (he was going through a divorce) and, after demanding his role be cut by 40% (he was reassigned to play the doctor’s assistant), delivered lines of dialogue that were garbled and unusable, in a performance said to be even more bizarre than what Brando’s ended up being. The studio, blaming Stanley for Kilmer’s insubordination, fired him, and brought in John Frankenheimer, who was drawn to the project because of the material and the chance to work with Brando. The problems, of course, didn’t stop there – Rob Morrow, originally cast in the role of the marooned UN ambassador, left with Stanley, and Frankenheimer saw a complete script overhaul, with pages being rewritten on the fly (Thewlis claims to have scripted most of his scenes himself). Kilmer, meanwhile, continued to terrorize everyone on set, which seemed to be a place of general unease, with the studio unhappy with the new direction Frankenheimer was taking but, at that stage in the game, unable to set things right. The finished movie showcases the hotbed of neuroses and creative second-guessing that permeated the set, although there are some things to admire, particularly Stan Winston’s creature work and elements of Brando’s bug-nuts performance (the scene where he has an ice bucket on his head is some kind of madcap classic); appropriately animalistic.


    • 8 Directors Who Got Fired From Famous Movies For Insane Reasons:

      8. Richard Stanley Got Fired For Sh*t Val Kilmer Did – The Island of Doctor Moreau
      Richard Stanley

      Val Kilmer is know to be a notoriously difficult actor to work with, given that everybody who has ever had the pleasure of making a movie with the man has cited his intolerable work ethic. If it ain’t Val’s way, it’s the highway. Now here’s a really sad story: director Richard Stanley spent four years trying to get a movie version of The Island of Doctor Moreau into the works, and eventually managed to get it into production over at New Line.

      But when production started, Val Kilmer decided that he didn’t want to read his lines and wanted 40% less screen-time. Roles were switched around, Marlon Brando and Kilmer argued with one other, and on day three, New Line had fired Stanley from his dream project because the director had failed “to keep Val Kilmer in line.”


  83. Apparently, Kim Basinger had a hard time making “The Real McCoy” w/ Val Kilmer:

    Much earlier in this thread, someone asked “Does Val Kilmer have a career-killing personality?” – This reminded me of a quote by Kim Basinger, who starred in and produced “The Real McCoy.” She fought to get him cast in the film, and then watched as he went out of his way to deliver the most half-assed performance possible.

    She described his work as a deliberate attempt to sabotage the film.


  84. I think you’re too easy on regular joes for getting fat. Really, staying in shape takes basic self-control and a couple of hours in the gym. People are just irresponsible, lazy fucks. The same goes for people who ‘can’t save money’, usually it’s a rationalization for personality flaws.


  85. elightweightvacuumcleaners

    One of the funniest articles I’ve read in a long time! 🙂 Thanks!


  86. Whatever Happened To?:

    Granted today’s selection has been working steadily, in straight-to-DVD releases, for a few years now. Yet when was the last time you saw Val Kilmer in a lead role on the big screen? I know he has a bad reputation for being a bit of a diva on set, but I think Kilmer has paid his dues in B-movie purgatory. It is time for him to jumpstart his career again like John Travolta did back in the 90’s.

    Val Kilmer

    Career Highlights: Top Gun (1986), Willow (1988), Heat (1995), Top Secret (1984), Tombstone (1993), The Doors (1991), Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2004), The Salton Sea (2002)

    Low Points: Mindhunters (2004), The Ghost and the Darkness (1996), Red Planet (2000), Alexander (2004), At First Sight (1999), The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996), The Real McCoy (1993)

    Last Seen: The Bad Lieutenant: The Port of Call New Orleans (2009)

    Where You Will See Him Again: The SNL-inspired comedy MacGruber; and The Irishmen with Ray Stevenson


  87. Which Actor/Actress Has Had The Biggest Fall From Grace Since Burt Reynolds?

    I’m going to nominate someone who never reached great heights in terms of awards, but definitely popularity. And how far he’s fallen is noteworthy. (Plus some of my other choices were taken)

    Val Kilmer:

    He came out of the gate fast with Top Gun. Then he became very popular in the early 90’s (to include a great character in Doc Holliday). His popularity alone is the reason he was cast as Batman in Batman Forever. That’s the same reason Jim Carrey was cast as The Riddler. Heat was another good movie. And from there he started to fall off. He was nominated for Razzies mostly beyond that point. Searching back on imdb, I had to go to the year 2000 (Red Planet) to find a movie I knew he was in. Pretty much for the last several years or so he’s been making straight to DVD movies. Not to mention how awful he looks compared to his old days.


    • Addressing the topic of Burt Reynolds….. Lebeau, I think he would make for a really great write-up someday. I’ve read before that Burt Reynolds was actually the biggest box-office draw of the 70’s, which I don’t doubt. Even when the 80’s started, he was still a big movie star and a box-office draw, Smokey and the Bandit II was the 8th biggest film of 1980, and I remember seeing Cannonball Run as a kid to a packed theatre, and according to Wikipedia it was the 6th biggest hit of 1981. So he went into the 80’s at least still holding onto his mantle. But then all of a sudden, he starred in a string of box office duds for a number of years, and by the end of the decade he was starring on a tv show (and this was way back when doing television still seemed like slumming, unlike today). I’m not sure if he just did too many disappointing movies in a row or if America just lost interest in him quickly, but something happened to his career in a hurry. It might be fun exploring that rise-and-fall (and brief comeback later).

      I realize Burt Reynold’s career goes much further back than any other actor you’ve covered so far Lebeau, and as such there would be a lot more homework involved in researching his career, but hopefully you’ll at least consider doing a write-up sometime in the future.


      • You have hit on it. Reynolds is a perfect candidate for WTHH. He’s just a lot more work! I’m so lazy. I will definitely get to Reynolds at some point. It’s just a matter of finding the time to devote to him. When I do it, I have to do it right and that’s going to take time. I could spend months just sorting out who he slept with and who he punched. 😉


        • What’s With Burt Reynolds’ Career?

          By BEN YAGODA, Daily News Movie Critic
          POSTED: May 07, 1987
          What happened to Burt Reynolds?

          I realize the question is not earth-shattering – certainly not on the order of What did Gary Hart know and when did he know her? Or can Lance Parrish hit National League pitching? – but it does carry some weight.

          Reynolds, 51, started his acting career in the late ’50s, progressing from B-movie hunk (“Navajo Joe,” “100 Rifles”), to occasional TV series star (“Dan August,” “Hawk”), to talk-show-circuit regular, where his deadpan humor was a funny and appealing contrast to his macho image. (Who could forget the time Johnny shmeared shaving cream on Burt’s black leather pants?)

          Then, in 1972, two things combined to make him a movie star: the film ”Deliverance” and his nude appearance in the centerfold of ”Cosmopolitan” magazine. Through the ’70s, he made some interesting films (“The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing,” “Starting Over”) and some incredibly popular ones (hillbilly car epics like “White Lightning,” “Smokey and the Bandit” and “Cannonball Run”). For four consecutive years starting a decade ago, Reynolds was named by movie exhibitors as the top box-office attraction in the world.

          Then came the fall. It was brought about, first, by a remarkable series of bad films: “Stroker Ace,” “Cannonball Run II,” “The Man Who Loved Women,” “City Heat” and “Stick,” true turkeys that were disdained by critics and ignored by moviegoers.

          To make matters worse, Reynolds became seriously ill after an injury sustained during a fight scene in “City Heat” (his ill-fated collaboration with Clint Eastwood) turned into a serious jaw disorder. Literally adding insult to injury were the rumors that sprang up – and refused to go away – that Reynolds had AIDS. The actor persistently denied them, but they unquestionably hurt his standing in the industry.

          In any case, Reynolds didn’t act in a movie for three years. Then he jumped back with a vengeance, making three consecutives films in less than a year. ”Heat” opened a couple of months ago. It was terrible. “Malone” opened last week. It was terrible. “Rent-a-Cop,” which co-stars Liza Minnelli as a prostitute befriended by cop Burt, won’t be out until Christmas, but unless it’s a combination of “8 1/2” and “Gone with the Wind,” it can’t possibly be good enough to salvage the comeback.

          So what happened? Several factors seem clear.

          * Reynolds has a limited ability. He is not without charm or skill, but it turns out not to be the kind of talent that wears well. Classic stars like John Wayne or Gary Cooper or, more recently, Clint Eastwood could get away with doing the same thing year after year. Reynolds can’t.

          * He is on the “B” list. For reasons that have to do both with these limited skills and, no doubt, a kind of class prejudice against him, Reynolds – especially now that he has fallen from the top of the box-office list – simply doesn’t get sent first-rate material, doesn’t get rung up by major directors.

          A reporter recently asked him why he doesn’t just call a director he wants to work with and suggest a project – the way Paul Newman did with Martin Scorcese in “The Color of Money.” Reynolds’ answer was poignant and pointed: “I don’t have the cachet Paul does. He could just play characters he did in the past that started with the letter H. Can you imagine me phoning a major director and asking if they wanted to direct me as ‘the Bandit’ 25 years later?”

          * He is a poor judge of material. This, after all, is the man who turned down the Jack Nicholson part in “Terms of Endearment” in favor of “Stroker Ace.” And anyone who actually read the scripts of “Heat” and “Malone” and actually decided to base a comeback on those turgid, humorless, suspenseless wastes of time should be taken off the road.

          The shallow solemnity of these movies, probably their least appealing quality, is no accident, either. Reynolds is on record as being determined not to make his career a case of good-old-boy redux. He turned down “Cannonball Run III,” and defended “Heat” and “Malone” in a recent interview by saying “At least they are serious films . . . At least I’m . . . doing films that take me out of a car.”

          This is an admirable decision, but since he seems to be shut out from really serious films, it leaves him with tripe.

          So what can Reynolds do to get himself out of the corner he’s been painted into? I’ve already gone on record with my suggestion, but in case Burt wasn’t listening, I’ll say it again. Start playing character parts, especially villains. Reynolds certainly doesn’t need the money top billing brings (he says he got $2 million for “Heat” and $3 million each for “Malone” and ”Rent-a-Cop”), and I wouldn’t think he has a moral, psychological or any other kind of need to always be the good guy. Reynolds has always talked about

          himself as a real actor; being the bad guy for once would give him the chance to really act. It would also give him the chance to finally take off that ridiculous and annoying hairpiece – and that might be the best career move of all.


    • You stated that Val was never a big star, only received fat paychecks. Wow, if you are not a big
      Star, how do you get cast third after Deniro and Pacino for Heat? Critically, he received wide acclaim for his portrayal of real life characters, Doc Holiday and John Holmes. Kilmer has a film out now called Twixt directed by Frances Ford Coppola. He has been chosen by some of the best directors. Both Michael Mann and Oliver Stone have used Kilmer in more than one film. You may not like him, and yes he has a difficult reputation but to say Val was never a big star is not really accurate.


      • There is an argument to be made that Kilmer never headlined a hit movie where he was the main box office draw. The franchise was the main draw for Batman Forever. He was a supprting player in Top Gun and Tombstone. The Saint was probably the closest thing Kilmer had to a hit he could call his own. And that was a bit of a disappointment.

        Even if his box office drawing power wasn’t as big as Tom Cruise, I still think Kilmer was unquestionably a big star. He was a household name. He still has very devoted fans. He just never managed to fully capitalize on his potential the way some other actors did.


        • p.s. Lebeau, if you see Coppala’s Twixt, Val does his Brando imitation in the film and quotes the line from Apocalypse Now where Brando is talking about the worm on the edge of a razor.
          Don’t know whose idea it was to include that.


        • I’m going to have to check that out. I recently rewatched Island of Dr. M and it was actually a lot of fun to watch. Kilmer’s Brando cracked me up. Espeicially knowing the history they had at the time.

          The Doors was actually a box office disappointment. It got mixed reviews, but Kilmer was singled out for pretty much universal praise. Wonderland was a flop with mostly bad reviews. The Saint and Tombstone are probably the closest things Kiler has to carrying hit movies. But The Saint was a pre-sold concept (TV remake) and co-starred a recent Oscar nominee. It also disappointed slightly at the box office. Tombstone was a runaway hit. Technically, Kurt Russell was the lead (and if you believe him, also the unofficial director). But Kilmer stole the show in a supporting role.

          Even today, Kilmer remains a talented and compelling actor. I am sure if it weren’t for his reputation, he’d be getting more work. I’m kind of surprised he isn’t on a TV procedural honestly.


        • Thx for the box office roundup, was what I expected. Despite being the lead in Salton Sea, am sure that bombed and though I thought Michael Mann’s Spartan had a great plot, think it was largely unnoticed. Which brings to full circle, really his first starring role which was Thunderheart which despite having a cult following, and good critical reviews most people haven’t seen it. He was a kid in that film and certainly has worked on damaging his rep since then quite nicely.will be interested to hear what you think of Twixt.


  88. If anyone is interested the complete ABC Afterschool Special : “One Too Many” featuring Val and Michelle Pfeiffer has been uploaded to YouTube.


  89. I when I think about it more, believe that “Batman Forever” was in a sense, the beginning of the end for Val Kilmer as a respected, mainstream star so to speak. Before landing the Batman role, it could be argued that Val wasn’t quite yet a box office draw or truly an A-list star even though I’m sure that most people knew who he was thanks to movies like “Top Gun”, “Willow”, or “Tombstone”.

    If what Joel Schumacher said about Val was true, then quite frankly, he really blew it (even though I’ve said before, I’m willing to give Val some benefit of the doubt considering how badly “Batman & Robin” turned out). And quite frankly, it’s a safe bet that Schumacher wasn’t exaggerating based on the stories about Val’s behavior on the set of “The Island of Dr. Moreau”. That and the Batman stories just prior really magnified Val’s “difficult to work with” reputation going as far back to at least “Top Gun”. If anything, getting “fired” from the Batman role (now when I think about it, if they really wanted him back, then they would’ve called him to let him know that they were going to film the next one one year ahead of time) helped insure producers/studios to never entrust Val Kilmer to front-line a major major blockbuster movie franchise (unless you count “The Saint”) again.

    It would be like if Robert Downey, Jr. (Val’s “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” co-star) acted like a rude, belligerent, arrogant prima-donna on the set of “Iron Man” (the movie that officially made RDJ an A-list, box office star after being written off due to his drug abuse issues and spending much of his career as more of a quirky character actor). And while we’re on the subject of Marvel Comics, Edward Norton might as well be the Val Kilmer of that particular company’s movies based on his alleged attitude/behavior while working on “The Incredible Hulk” (hence why Mark Ruffalo was called in to replace him as Bruce Banner for “The Avengers”).


    • Batman was a big opportunity and Kilmer blew it. Yeah, Batman and Robin sucked big time. But it would have paid better than The Saint and probably done less damage to his credibility. He might have even made it better by toning down the camp just a bit.


      • Craig Hansen

        You’re being far too generous, Lebeau. Nothing could have saved Batman & Robin from its epic suckiness. Ha ha. I agree with Terrence though, Kilmer was probably just an obnoxious douche on too many movie sets to the point that nobody wanted to cast him or work with him anymore. Looking back on his career, he actually worked for quite a few high profile directors at his peak…. Oliver Stone, Tony Scott, Ron Howard, Michael Mann, John Frankenheimer, Joel Schumaker….. Kilmer undeniably had talent, he undeniably had movie-star good looks, and he found himself working with some of the top directors in Hollywood; he was even entrusted to headline a major franchise with Batman; an A-list spot was his to lose by the mid-90’s. But I’m sure all those big-name directors he pissed off told their other filmmaking friends of their bad experiences working with him, eventually rendering him an undesirable casting choice. I wonder if privately he ever reflects and kicks himself for self-sabatoging his own career back then.


        • From what I have read, he doesn’t do a lot of reflecting.

          As for B&R, I figure if anyone had shut down the Bat credit card scene, they would have greatly improved the movie. It still would have sucked. But I would not have winced in pain. If Kilmer had been in god standing, he might have shut down some of the most offending moments.


      • Re: Jim Carrey: “Tommy Lee Jones hated me”

        love Tommy but I have heard too many times for it not to be true that he is such an insufferable grouch. To everyone. Cast, crew, media, fans. It’s his world and damn anyone foolish enough to step close enough to him. Which is sad.

        Jim on the other hand gets on my nerves a lot but I’ve heard he is very gracious and friendly and even a bit shy. I don’t think I can blame him if he sort of acted out to annoy Tommy after a meeting like that. I would have walked into a meeting with all of them there, bent over, and done the Ace Ventura thing talking out of my ass going “Hi I’m Tommy Lee Jones.” lol

        And then Val, being so intense in his acting, it’s no surprise him and directors don’t get along.

        I know the party line is that the studio wanted it made lighter than the first three (even Forever) but I wonder if B&R’s tone and stuff had anything to do with Joel’s fear of replicating any bit of the experience of making Forever lol


    • 10 Huge Mistakes In Marvel’s Cinematic Universe:

      10. Ed Norton As Bruce Banner (The Incredible Hulk)

      When Ed Norton was cast as Bruce Banner in Louis Leterrier’s The Incredible Hulk, I was overjoyed, and having seen the film, he certainly gave a stirring portrayal of the character, far outdoing Eric Bana’s turn in Ang Lee’s Hulk.

      However, things took a turn for the worse when Norton’s relationship with Marvel broke down, reportedly as a result of the actor wanting to have creative control over his performance and how the character was portrayed; on the set of The Incredible Hulk, he went about assembling his own cut of the film in the way that he envisioned it, which rubbed just about everyone the wrong way. Also, due to the editing dispute, Norton refused to do publicity for the film.

      Banner was recast for The Avengers with Mark Ruffalo taking the helm, and given that Ruffalo managed to top Norton, giving easily the best screen portrayal of the character to date – in large part due to Joss Whedon’s electrifying script – it makes the Norton Hulk seem incongruous and awkward. Nobody can predict the future, but this is a regrettable aspect of the MCU nevertheless.


      • 10 Most Insane Confrontations Between Actors And Directors:

        9. Edward Norton vs Tony Kaye

        When Director Tony Kaye states that studio New Line Cinema “raped” his first feature film and quotes his leading man Edward Norton as being a “narcissistic dilettante” who ruined his film in the editing room, you know this one belongs on this list.

        When he met Edward Norton, Kaye told him straight up that he wasn’t right for the role of Neo-Nazi Derek in his film American History X. New Line Cinema gave him five weeks to find an alternative, and after he couldn’t come up with the goods in the short time frame, Kaye was stuck with a leading man he didn’t want. Not the greatest of starts for any director/actor relationship, but it only got more sour from there.

        Norton initially cited their relationship as one that was “incredibly fruitful, satisfying, healthy and a positive collaborative dynamic” – a PR manager’s wet dream. As the shoot went on, Kaye was noticeably lax in his directorial style – he was his own cinematographer, he gave lead roles the freedom to craft their own performance and he would take and use suggestions from just about anyone on set.

        With a silly amount of footage (200 hours plus), Kaye managed to cut it down to a decent rough cut, decent enough to impress New Line, who gave him a few notes to work on for the final edit. Problem was, Kaye wasn’t happy with the edit he had made, so he sank himself back into the edit room and began to chop the film down to a 90 minute running time. Norton wasn’t impressed with the new edit made by Kaye and asked him if he could join him in the editing room to help boost the film’s running time and add to its content.

        Too many cooks finally spoiled the broth for Kaye, as studio heads and producers from all over New Line were popping in to have their say. Tempers reportedly ran so high in the editing room that Kaye smashed his fist through a wall, breaking his hand in the process. It was Norton he had the real issue with, despite the actor now claiming that he hardly anything to do with the edit.

        Kaye adamantly suggests that Norton got away with whatever he wanted as the studio were so afraid of him. Kaye left cryptic messages in The Hollywood Reporter about the way he was treated, asked New Line for eight weeks of free editing alone and generally bad-mouthed anything to do with what he now called ‘The Edward Cut’ of his own film.

        New Line Cinema gave Kaye eight weeks to edit alone. He jetted to the Caribbean to consult the thoughts of Nobel Prize winning poet Derek Walcott on his film and when the studio asked him what he was thinking he said “If Kubrick gets the time he needs, I deserve the same”. Needless to say, the studio had had enough of Kaye; they released their cut of the film (largely done by Norton) which received immediate acclaim.

        Despite the success, Kaye went to every festival and demanded it was taken down, sometimes to avail, other times not. Norton often states that Tony Kaye only thinks about Tony Kaye, and is notoriously difficult to work for or with due to his fragile mentality of wanting people to think he is some sort of artistic genius.

        Who won?

        You only have to look at Kaye’s spotty career, that harbors little in the way of a comeback, to see who had the last laugh on this one.


    • Batman Before And After: How The Batsuit Can Change Or Ruin Careers:

      Val Kilmer – Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever
      Before Batman: Unlike Keaton, Kilmer’s experience with comedy films was most limited to his first two acting gigs, the spoof Top Secret! and the teen comedy Real Geniuses. His performances in films like Willow and Top Gun were good, but he really set career high points in Oliver Stone’s wishy-washy The Doors and George P. Cosmatos’ action western Tombstone. As both Jim Morrison and Doc Holliday, Kilmer seemed to lose all traces of himself and truly became both of those iconic figures. I still get shivers when I think about Holliday’s dying, sweat-ridden body.

      As Batman: There was a quite a bit of controversy once Burton and Keaton were no longer attached to the third Batman movie, and no one really knew what to expect when Joel Schumacher decided to follow up The Client with Batman Forever. Kilmer’s involvement arguably made the most sense out of all the Batman actors, given his good looks, his toned physique and his cross-genre acting chops. 18 years later, Kilmer is still the best thing about Batman Forever. With two insanely cartoonish villains (Jim Carrey’s Riddler and Tommy Lee Jones’ Two-Face), a candy-coated set design and the awful inclusion of Chris O’Donnell as Robin, this movie could have featured Kilmer in a coma and he still would have come out on top. (Truth be told, I honestly loved this movie when it came out, and I still like it quite a bit, though it’s been about a decade since I last saw it.)

      After Batman: Following a winning performance in Michael Mann’s crime epic Heat, Kilmer seemingly took on every role that was offered to him (other than Batman in Schumacher’s next flick), starring in the so-bad-it’s-almost-awesome The Island of Dr. Moreau, Red Planet, and At First Sight. While he occasionally pops up to win audiences over in movies like Shane Black’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call – New Orleans, he has spent the last decade starring in some truly heinous indie thrillers. The Thaw? Double Identity? The Steam Experiment? Here’s hoping his role in Terrence Malick’s next film brings him back to quality cinema once and for all.


      • At what point does an actor get to work even if the choices are bad because he has to pay the bills? Seriously, we all know Val has talent but maybe paying back taxes on your ranch take priority over artistic choices. You list a string of straight to video films but in your list you omit Spartan directed by Michael Mann, Felon with Sam Shepard and Stephen Dorff’ and Blind Horizon with Sam Shepard, Faye Dunaway and Neve Campbell. Yes, some of us can list other non straight to video films.
        Give the guy a break. Tom Cruise may be thinner but he is still not in a league with Kilmer, nor are a lot of his counterparts. I just feel like someone should give the guy a breal especially considering some of the performances we’ve seen him in.
        Val is far from over.


  90. saw Kilmer not that long ago in Santa Fe at the locals fav for true new mex food. Val had a platter of food portions are huge there, was reading a book with an even bigger body guard who sat facing the room. I think Val is an obsessive perfectionist but it shows in his work. Thunder heart is oft overlooked. He. Was brilliant as Morrison, Doc Holiday and John Holmes in Wonderland. At some point it has to get frustrating to be continually overlooked. I even thought his character
    Was great in Salton Sea and I liked Blind Horizon. Films barely noticed. But since then Val has done a string of truly bad movie, I.e. Blood Out with 50cent. Truly,
    Maybe striving for perfection becomes obsessive. Enjoyed your blog but I wouldn’t count Val out yet.


    • Thanks, Denise. I never count anybody out completely. And I always root for any of my subjects to do well. I have nothing but affection for most of them. Kilmer, despite whatever issues he might have, is a talented guy.


  91. I agree. He is a talented guy. I wouldn’t count him out just yet either. I too loved him as Morrison, and Doc Holiday. I even liked him in Wonderland. I’m not sure of a come-back, but I hope so.


    • I was excited about Wonderland, but the reviews weren’t especially good and I sort of lost interest. I don’t know about a full comeback at this point. I don’t see any way he could ever get back on the A-list. But I think he could show up in some high profile projects at some point. He is doing a voice in Disney’s Planes.


      • I heard/read in either rolling stone or GQ (does anyone know, it was last month), that he was doing all these b movies to raise enough capital to finance this script he wrote about a medicine man in Africa. When I was last in Santa fe, there was a lot of talk that he had sold off a big chunk of his land to cover back real estate taxes and was turning it into a trout farm. Who knows, he seems very into the polital local stuff in that area. I really want to live to see Val get acclaim, he’ll never get got an Oscar. He’s never seemed to care about that stuff. But I am a die hard fan so my perception may be off……


  92. To Craig, I think you’re right Val didn’t fare well with his directors. The only major meeting of the minds was Michael Mann and Val, I read that the two were such perfectionists that on the set of Heat it was driving the other actors nuts. Did anyone see that movie were Val was trying to rescue the presidents daughter,
    He was CIA circa 2001?’Don’t remember the name, I think that was directed by Michael Mann. Seems that just leaves him and Oliver Stone


  93. Thinking of talented actors who made the A-list and had a manifest destiny of superstardom, but eventually missed it… what the hell happened to Edward Norton?


    • He is on my list. I had planned to write him up some time ago, but he’s had a few higher profile movies recently.


      • 10 Actors Who Need To Make A Great Movie Before It’s Too Late:

        9. Edward Norton

        Last Great Movie: Moonrise Kingdom (2011) – but it was a small part, okay?

        Sometimes good actors get caught up in bad movie after bad movie, and it makes them look as though they’ve got about as much sense as an episode of [insert MTV show here]. This happened (and is happening) to Edward Norton, a genuinely good actor who needs to get a new agent or a brain transplant or do whatever it takes in order to stop himself from signing on for the Godawful roles that he’s signed onto over the course of the past decade. I mean, Norton was doing awesomely in the ’90s, but his recent output has been super-underwhelming.

        Stone. Leaves of Grass. I mean, what are these movies? I’m well-aware that sometimes actors don’t have a lot of choice, but I refuse to believe that somebody like Ed Norton isn’t smart enough to seek out some projects of actual worth. He did a nice little turn in Wes Anderson’s latest flick, Moonrise Kingdom, but then he did The Bourne Legacy and acted all bland and forgettable, so it kind of evens it out. I’m a Norton fan, in the sense that I’m actually pleased they named the anti-virus software after him. Let’s get you back on the saddle, Eddy boy.


        • 10 Actors Bullied Into Roles They Never Wanted:

          6. Edward Norton – The Italian Job

          Edward Norton is known for two things – a) being picky about which roles he ultimately accepts and b) being a pain in the arse to work with. Still, we mostly have to come down on his side here, even if his pickiness is apparently what caused him to wind up cast as the forgettable, mustachioed villain in the dull remake of the crime caper classic The Italian Job.

          Norton had signed a three-picture deal with Paramount, but it seems that he spent too long rejecting projects after the enormous success of Primal Fear (for which he garnered his first Oscar nomination), as he wound up having to star in something he was ardently against appearing in.

          The contract won out, and Norton was railroaded by executives and lawyers no doubt into briefly embarrassing himself as the dull, unenthusiastic bad guy in a dull, unenthusiastic film. Norton didn’t even bother to promote the flick but still made it clear to just about anyone prepared to listen that he was cast in it against his will.


        • Ok, he made some bad choices, but he remains a very good actor. In my very humble opinion, he is the living proof that in the last years Hollywood discarded or at least heavily downsized fine acting in its movie strategy. Few exceptions apart, movies are either high concepts or superstar vehicles (and even superstar vehicles are no longer sure hits, ask Will Smith). There is less material out there which requires class performances. If you’re lucky, you cement your fame in a successful franchise (Cruise, Damon, Bale, Depp), otherwise you struggle.


        • I haven’t watched any of Kilmer’s direct-to-video movies. But when I see him in a mainstream film like Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang or Bad Leuitenant, he is always good. The guy is exceptionally talented. Unfortunately, through bad decisions and bad behavior, he has squandered a lot of that talent. The thing is, Kilmer actually got set up in a successful franchise. If he hadn’t gotten into a shoving match with Joel Schumacher, he could have remained Batman for at least one more movie. Maybe longer if things had gone differently. Also, if he had made friends instead of pissing off Tom Cruise (who hates him to this day), maybe he would have been invited to play in the Mission Impossible sandbox. Or somewhere else.

          I give Kilmer a lot of credit for being talented. But I also give him an equal helping of blame for tearing his own career down as he built it.


        • I was talking about Ed Norton 😉


        • Oooops. 🙂

          Norton made some bad decisions. But he is also a notoriously difficult guy to work with. His involvement in The Hulk nearly ended in a lawsuit. Again, if he had been easier to work with, he probably would have been in The Avengers. Although dealing with Marvel is also no picnic. So I can’t 100% blame him there.


        • Norton is a good choice for a write up eventually. I for one enjoyed his Hulk movie, it’s unfortunate he was so difficult to deal with that Marvel dumped him from the franchise, if he had continued playing the role and appeared in the mega-blockbuster Avengers I’m sure he would’ve gotten at least some sort of career bump out of it. As it is I think he’s pretty much done appearing in mainstream movies, at least in lead roles, due to his reputation as a difficult guy to work with.

          Norton is nowhere in the same league as Val Kilmer is in terms of having a reputation of being difficult, but definitely a recurring theme of these WTTH stories is that those actors who develop a “difficult to work with” reputation when their star is hot eventually pay a price once their star fades. Kilmer got there, Seagal got there, Debra Winger got there, it seems Norton might be on his way there too.


        • I kind of believe that Edward Norton has become sort of the modern day Val Kilmer. Like w/ the case regarding Val’s ugly falling out from the Batman franchise, I don’t think that Edward is ever going to be entrusted w/ a huge tent-pole franchise like the Incredible Hulk ever again due to his antics (which were a problem as far back as to when he made “American History X”). I really wonder if Norton seriously has second thoughts over what happened since he missed out on being in the biggest movie of 2012 (“The Avengers”) for not being able to get along w/ the powers that be at Marvel.


        • Not just the biggest movie of 2012, but with $623 Million The Avengers is the third biggest blockbuster of all time, only behind Titanic and Avatar domestically. That is HUGE. I too wonder if privately he kicks himself for getting himself booted out of what wound up one of the biggest blockbusters of all time (and could’ve given his career a boost as well), but that’s something that only Norton himself will ever know. I’m not trying to be insulting to the guy by bringing that up, I am a fan of his, he is a very talented actor and he’s had a lot of films that are just excellent (Fight Club, Rounders, American History X, The Score, The People Vs. Larry Flint, even his Hulk and Italian Job are good fun).

          He had an interesting career to be sure, and I think it’s worth mentioning that the 2001 film The Score had a marketing thing going on at the time that boasted that the film had 3 generations of arguably the greatest actors as the leads: Marlon Brando, Robert DeNiro, and Edward Norton. That’s a sign of where his career was in 2001, that at that moment his name was in the same league as Brando and DeNiro, at least in terms of his acting abilities if not exactly his box office prowess or his stature in Hollywood yet, but at that moment he had the reputation as an on-the-rise actor with infinite potential who could in the coming years become a legendary actor like those two. Unfortunately The Score served more as the end of his peak period, more or less, than a continued meteoric rise.


        • That Norton has entered this discussion with Kilmer is sad but I think Norton still has a lot left.I was surprised that ‘Stone’ seemed to pass unnoticed. I thought once again he turned in a great villain. Has anyone mentioned ‘The Painted Veil’ with Naomi Watts? I had not seen him play a romantic lead very often, personally I love that film. Norton in my option is great, but he has yet to attain the fame Kilmer achieved, which in this debate I guess still gives him more room to fall.


        • 7 Greedy Actors Who Didn’t Return For The Sequel:

          1. Edward Norton – The Avengers

          Edward Norton is a notoriously difficult actor. He butted heads with American History X director Tony Kaye over the way he was editing the film and essentially cut the final version himself. He clashed with director Brett Ratner during the making of Red Dragon. He made it crystal clear that his participation in 2003′s The Italian Job was purely the result of a contractual obligation to Paramount Pictures. So there is very little surprise that Norton clashed with Marvel Studios over 2008′s The Incredible Hulk. When Norton signed on to play the title character, he also managed a deal to rewrite the script. Because Norton submitted his script with only two months before shooting was set to begin and he couldn’t include any major changes, Norton’s rewrite included mostly dialogue and character motivation for Bruce Banner—in other words, more Norton!

          When director Louis Leterrier cut all the footage together, Marvel was not pleased and insisted on a shorter, more action-oriented version. Norton, of course, was not happy. A feud of epic proportions ensued between Norton and Marvel, as Norton expected the studio to bow down to the considerable creative control he had been granted. Marvel, however, wanted the most commercially viable version of the film to be released. Eventually, Norton relented to Marvel’s cut of the film. The film wound up being…OK.

          Norton had intended to reprise the role of Banner in The Avengers and had even met with director Joss Whedon. Marvel, however, preemptively fired Norton to avoid similar drama on The Avengers, the studio’s flagship film that the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe had been building toward. Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige stated that the decision was “not based on monetary factors, but instead rooted in the need for an actor who embodies the creativity and collaborative spirit of our other talented cast members.” Norton’s agent fired back, calling the statement “purposefully misleading, inappropriate attempt to paint [Norton] in a negative light. In the end, audiences wound up with a fantastic Avengers film and most were more than pleased with Mark Ruffalo in the role of Banner/Hulk. Still, can you imagine the off-screen battles between Norton and Robert Downey Jr. over who would get more screen time?


        • You can argue that the key difference between the difficult natures of Edward Norton and Val Kilmer (not that this excuses Norton by any means), is that Norton’s issues stem from the most part from his passion for the work. Kilmer on the other hand (whether or not Val is bipolar is up for speculation of course) is just a flat out “nut-bag”:


        • 10 Famous Actors Who Are Notoriously Difficult To Work With:

          9. Edward Norton

          Edward Norton takes himself very seriously, which is probably both good and bad when it comes to the Hollywood machine, given that – ultimately – the nature of your profession is kind of ridiculous (pretending to be other people). Still, Norton has earned himself a reputation for doing what Bruce Willis likes to do – “shadow directing.” Though that probably just means that Norton wants to ensure the best movie possible, it’s also going to be super-annoying for the person who has actually being assigned to do that as their job.

          That’s to say, Norton clashed with director Louis Letterier on The Incredible Hulk over creative differences, and even ended up cutting the final version of American History X in the editing room, ’cause he didn’t trust Tony Kaye to do a proper job (to be fair, even lovely Bryan Cranston has talked about how difficult Kaye was to work with). If you want to be a director, though, Ed, just be a director. The fact that Norton has built up a reputation for being difficult has limited the parts he gets nowadays, and he’s barely in anything good as a result. Oops.


        • 10 Famous Actors Who Are Notoriously Difficult To Work With:

          1. Val Kilmer

          At one time, Val Kilmer looked to be most promising actor in Hollywood. And yet each and every director that the man has ever worked with probably has something bad to say about him, which has likely led to the state of his career nowadays. Which is – let’s face it – barely a career at all. Nobody is willing to put up with his [expletive], apparently. Kilmer has his defenders, of course – those who believe he was, at one time, truly dedicated to his art, and his temper manifested as a result of his frustrations with incompetent filmmakers.

          He also might be slightly insane, given his panache for going a bit Gary Busey in interviews, which certainly hasn’t help his image – and then there’s all those ex-wives and former lovers who have gone on record to let the world know how nuts the guy might be. His most famous meltdown, of course, occurred during the making of Batman Forever, where Kilmer reportedly came to blows with Joel Schumacher. To be fair, given the state of the final product, I’m kind of with Kilmer on this one. Schumacher had to get something for the work he turned in.

          Screenwriter Kevin Jarre, who wrote Tombstone, said of Val Kilmer: “There’s a dark side to Val that I don’t feel comfortable talking about.” He died at age 56, under “mysterious circumstances.” Nah, not really – it was heart failure. I like to spice these things up with lies, occasionally. It’s all for you.


      • Yeah, just a little bit longer on Norton. You have to pick them when they’re ripe 🙂


    • What Happened? Celebrities Who Should Have Had Bigger Careers:


      Multi-talented Academy Award nominated actor, director, screenwriter and producer Edward Norton shouldn’t be on this list. No way should he be on this list. He wasn’t supposed to be. But following his turn as reformed white supremacist Derek Vinyard in American History X, a leading role in Fight Club and other high profile performances, Norton seemed to pull away from the spotlight. And when rumors circulated of his difficulty on and off set, that certainly did not help matters in the likability department. He’s wildly talented and there’s no reason he shouldn’t still be on top of the movie game. So we wouldn’t be surprised if he made a rousing return to prominence.


  94. To Erin. Thx. Does it seem to you that this debate is divided along gender lines. Oh, fat Val,
    Difficult val. The guy can’t get a break. He has been around a long time, worked with some true geniuses, its like some of these comments have been made without looking at the breadth of his work. By the way Val, if this continues Erin and I want a tour of your trout farm….


    • Yes it sure does. I agree. Let’s go tour his trout farm. Maybe we can get some large trout for dinner.


      • lol – I hope you girls enjoy the tour. Let us know how it went.


      • Yeah, the next time I’m near his ranch, I’ll knock on the gate for the trout farm tour. Think that’s how one gets arrested for stalking. Seriously, Lebeau you make a good point that Val has never starred in a movie that was a hit, only two exceptions I can think of would be the Doors and Wonderland, but you would know better than I how they did at box office. I would suspect Wonderland did not do so well. That said for only achieving that level of fame, it is interesting how long we have all debated Val’s trials and tribulations… I still remain a stalwart fan, trout farmer, fat or whatever,I think Val is a great actor.


  95. Kilmer is A list talent. What’s interesting about this series is how it’s highlighted that A list talent doesn’t necessarily sustain an A list career. And, where is it we were having that discussion of what is A list, or if there is A list any more, or permanent A list? I thought it was under the Kilmer article but not finding it.


  96. Haha.. amen to that, and thanks, I have to go look that discussion up.


    • It was a doozy.

      I keep meaning to expand that conversation into a full article, but it keeps getting pushed off. I’ve got about 1/8 of the next WTHH written but haven’t had a chance to follow up. Hopefully this weekend…


  97. That is such a shame – it seems to me he was/ is perhaps bipolar. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being bipolar (it’s so common it’s very natural), but that may be why he was self-medicating with drugs/ alcohol.


    • Kilmer has suffered some tragedies I didn’t cover in the article. I keep debating whether or not to add them. He lost a child which seems to be about when his behavior really takes a turn for the worst.


  98. “There’s no other way to put this. Val Kilmer got fat. And not just flabby. He got pregnant-man fat. [ . .] Ice Man can turn into a beached whale [. . .] My eyes! My eyes! Make it stop! [. . .] What have I missed? Bad career choices, tabloid scandals, drug use, alcoholism, weight gain, on-set temper tantrums, fist fights, tonguining a hotel heiress, and The Island of Dr. Moreau. I think that just about covers what the hell happened to Val Kilmer.”

    LOL I so needed this. Thanks. 🙂


  99. I spoke to Phillip Noyce whilst he was promoting “Rabbit Proof Fence” about his experience with Kilmer on “The Saint”. He shook his head and called him “an absolute shit” and hoped he never saw him again. He also didn’t seemed that thrilled with Shue, which I found disappointing. Might be something in that seeing where her career’s at.


    • At this point, I might as well not be so surprised that Philip Noyce would say that about Val Kilmer, but I’m very intrigued about what he had to say about Eilsabeth Shue. I never heard much about her being difficult to work w/ (maybe she isn’t always quite the nice girl that she has played in her movies) too.


  100. What happened to him were bad movies and a bad gut. He took Jim Morrison’s role too seriously and bloated.


  101. 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.


  102. 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.


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


      • 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


    • 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.


    • 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.


  103. 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.


    • 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?


    • Another endorsement for Salton Sea!


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


  105. 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?


  106. 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.


  107. 10 Excruciating Films That Ruined Your Image Of Batman Actors:

    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.


    • 10 Excruciating Films That Ruined Your Image Of Batman Actors:

      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.


  108. 10 Actors Who Completely Wasted Their Careers:

    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.


    • 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.


      • 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.


        • 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


        • 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.


        • 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.


        • 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.


        • 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!


  109. 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.

    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.”

    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.”

    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.”

    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.”

    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.”

    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.”

    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.”

    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.”

    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.”

    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.”

    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.”

    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.”

    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.”

    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.”

    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.”

    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”

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

    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.”

    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.”

    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.”

    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.”

    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.”

    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.”

    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.”

    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.”

    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?”

    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.

    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.”

    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.”

    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.”

    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.”

    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.”


    • 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.


      • 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.


        • 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.


        • 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.


        • 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.


        • 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!


        • 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?!


        • Sure thing. I’ll put together a little how-to.


        • 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.


        • 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.


        • 9 Actors Whose Hot Careers Fizzled:

          1. Val Kilmer

          During the ‘80s and the ‘90s, Val Kilmer was considered one of the most promising actors in Hollywood. He had roles in some of the biggest blockbusters including “Top Gun,” “Willow,” “Tombstone” and Joel Schumacher’s “Batman Forever.” Despite his success, somewhere along the way, Kilmer developed a reputation for being difficult to work, which pretty much landed him on Hollywood’s black list. We haven’t seen much of him since.


        • Which ’90s actor has fallen the hardest? What movie did them in?

          What really hurt his career wasn’t any movie he was in but the fact that he is VERY hard to work with. Most actors and directors who worked with him once avoided working with him again. He’s the Kathleen Battle of ’90s movie actors.

          Also, Kilmer has the skills to be a very good comedic actor, but has some kind of complex where he is desperate to be regarded as a top dramatic actor.. which he simply isn’t. After Top Secret and Real Genius, he was offered any number of really excellent comedic parts, but he refused them.

          Also, he needs to step away from the buffet table. His girth has cost him any number of really good roles.


  110. 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)



    Val is described as nice by Chuck Klosterman

    And he and Robert Downey Jr became great friends

    Good series of videos about Val


  112. 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]


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


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


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


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

    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.


    • 12 Least Successful Recastings Of Iconic Film Characters:

      1. Val Kilmer – Bruce Wayne/ Batman

      Film: Batman Forever (1995)

      Replacing: Michael Keaton

      The obvious choice when talking about the early Batman films would be to single out the casting of George Clooney in Batman and Robin – and sure enough, he does a pretty awful job. But all too often people are soft on Batman Forever, which for all its goofy charm represented a big climb-down from the heights of Batman Returns. Fellow WhatCulture! columnist Alex Leadbetter has already laid into the film here, but there’s one crucial thing that he forgot to mention: Val Kilmer’s planky performance as the Caped Crusader.

      After Batman Returns underperformed at the box office, Warner Bros. wanted to take the series in a more family-friendly direction. Tim Burton stayed on as producer but Joel Schumacher replaced him as director, and set about “lightening down” Burton’s early concept for the Riddler. Michael Keaton, dissatisfied with this new direction and wanting to vary the roles he played, turned down $15m to appear in the film. Schumacher hired Kilmer on the basis of his performance in Tombstone, and Kilmer signed on without knowing who the director was and without having even read the script.

      It’s very hard to act when only half of your face can be seen. It’s a challenge that each of the actors who’ve played Batman have had to face, with Keaton bringing dry wit and aggression and Christian Bale relying heavily on the voice to intimidate people. Kilmer, on the other hand, acts overly haughty as Bruce Wayne and seems to spend all his time in the mask either pouting or mumbling. It’s a very good example of making the very least of the props and costume, setting a low bar under which Clooney subsequently limboed.


      • The action figures and lost legacy of Batman Forever, 20 years later

        Of all the actors to play Batman/Bruce Wayne Kilmer’s performance strikes me as the least distinctive. Adam West played Bruce Wayne as an ascot-wearing patrician square resolutely unmoved by the pervading 60s counterculture, Michael Keaton was a haunted, hermetic borderline-sociopath using his crime-fighting activities as a form of cognitive therapy, George Clooney was the superhero-as-celebrity, a charming, philanthropic socialite, not a million miles from Clooney himself, both as Bruce and Batman, and Christian Bale’s Bruce started off as a snooty rich kid with anger management issues gradually discovering his morality and core integrity as the Dark Knight whilst continuing to play the feckless aristocrat as a facade. From the footage and information we’ve so far been granted, Ben Affleck would appear to be playing an older, more grizzled Batman, sporting five o’clock shadow, that is akin to Frank Miller’s version from The Dark Knight Returns.

        But I’m still at a loss as to what specific qualities Kilmer brought to his one-shot at the role (apart from a prettier face than his predecessor).


      • Here’s why Batman Forever was the best Batman of the ’90s:

        With Ben Affleck’s grizzled, weary Batman set to grace our screens in March 2016, it’s always fun to scoff and look back on the history of the Caped Crusader and see how far he’s come.

        We’ve seen every iteration of Batman. The angry, near-psychopathic Christian Bale in Christoper Nolan’s grounded, real-world version. Michael Keaton’s sexually-charged, monosyllabic performance in Tim Burton’s Gothic surrounds and, further back, Adam West and Burt Ward’s psychedelic, cartoon-inspired Batman of the ’60s. People glance over George Clooney’s flat, uninterested Batman in Batman & Robin, but we all remember Val Kilmer’s iteration more fondly. It must be something to do with the nipples on the suit.

        Production began on Batman Forever in 1993 when Joel Schumacher signed on to direct. Up until this point, Schumacher was known for making well-crafted, slick films that grossed well. Falling Down, with Michael Douglas, was a dark comedy that exposed America’s grim underbelly. The Client, with Batman Forever cast member Tommy Lee Jones, was a gripping adaptation of John Grisham’s bestseller. Flatliners was a high-concept sci-fi thriller with Brat Pack stars Kiefer Sutherland, William Baldwin and Oliver Platt that echoed Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. In short, Schumacher was a man in demand.

        Tim Burton was done with Batman and felt creatively spent with the property. His gnarled, Gothic, near-erotic take on the series was fascinating – but it was beginning to alienate younger audiences. So much so, in fact, that Batman Returns’ tie-in with McDonald’s Happy Meals had to be withdrawn over parental backlash. Simply put, the world wasn’t yet ready for a Batman that was wounded, a creature that had fully realized desires and could be an object of desire. It was too full-on for people to take. That said, it’s still considered a modern classic and rates favorably with fans of the series.

        Schumacher’s thesis was simple – take Batman back to basis. Make it more fun, make it more splashy, make it more appealing to everyone than those that wanted a psychologically-damaged Batman. Casting began almost as soon as Schumacher signed on, with Tommy Lee Jones signing up after a short conversation with Schumacher and the producers. Keep in mind, Tommy Lee Jones was coming off the back of an Academy Award win for The Fugitive and had worked previously with Schumacher on The Client. Next was The Riddler. Robin Williams was considered at first, however as screenwriter Lee Batchler puts it, they simply didn’t make the deal and that was it. When Williams fell through, Jim Carrey stepped into the fold. As Schumacher described it, Carrey was “The Riddler on steroids.”

        The bug-bear was Michael Keaton. When Burton left Batman behind, so to did Keaton – despite being offered $15,000,000 to reprise his role. Keaton later said that he hated the film and was glad he didn’t do it. Val Kilmer was hired based on the strength of his performance in the Western romp Tombstone, playing the infamous Doc Holliday. The on-set disputes between Kilmer and Schumacher are well-documented. Kilmer was forced to endure four to five hours, daily, of makeup which drove him slightly mad. “He was rude and inappropriate. He was childish and impossible. I was forced to tell him that this would not be tolerated for one more second. Then we had two weeks where he did not speak to me but it was bliss!”

        The supporting cast of Chris O’Donnell as Robin and Nicole Kidman as Dr. Chase Meridian, who served as the love interest for Batman. Kidman, however, has been cool about her reaction to the film. In a recent interview, Kidman stated that she remembers “going, ‘I wish had more of a role, though.’ It’s great being the girl in the Batman movie. But I’m an actor and you go, ‘Gosh I want more to do.’ So I would still love to do some sort of superhero movie where I get to do the cool stuff.” Chris O’Donnell, meanwhile, was more positive. “I remember sitting in the back of a limousine being driven somewhere and my agent asking, ‘Are you going to do this or not?’ I remember thinking, ‘My god, it seemed like a no-brainer. I grew up watching Batman and how could you not? But at the same time, I knew what a huge thing it was. Do I want to be a part of this? Do I want to be known as Robin?’ I remember sitting in the car and going, “What am I going to do?” And I was like, ‘I’m in. I’m going to do it!’ ”

        With cinematographer Stephen Goldblatt and production designer Barbara Ling, Batman Forever was crafted as a sprawling, neon-infused rock opera with art deco influences. NygmaTech’s opening party was like something from a Prince video. The opening bank robbery sequence was lit and shot like a music video. Indeed, the film’s aesthetics and use of editing and music made it feel closer to an MTV video with comic-book influences. The lighting design was done by a rock concert lighting expert, complete with a panel to shift color and intensity easily.

        The soundtrack, especially, reflected these jarring influences. U2’s Hold Me, Kiss Me, Thrill Me, Kill Me became a radio hit along with Seal’s Kiss From A Rose. The demented genius of putting the world’s biggest band next to a UK soul singer was inspired. The Offspring covered The Damned’s Smash It Up whilst Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, PJ Harvey, The Flaming Lips and The Devlins contributed various B-Sides to the album. Like the film itself, the soundtrack was a hodge-podge of fantastical elements that, although jarring, truly worked as a whole. Elliot Goldenthal’s score pulled sharply away from Danny Elfman’s morose, hymnal score in favor of a circus-like atmosphere with raging drums and sultry, noir horns.

        What makes Batman Forever so intriguing is that it was utterly of its time. The ’90s was a garish, loud, colorful period and the film reflected this back. The type of introspective, grounded Batman of today simply couldn’t have worked in that time period. Look at Timothy Dalton and Licence To Kill in the ’80s. Miles ahead of its time, but instead it’s overlooked as a serious entry. What Batman Forever did was put itself firmly in the zeitgeist and shape Batman to fit it. After all, the Dark Knight is truly a malleable entity. The ’60s saw a Batman that danced. The ’90s saw a Batman that had rooftop kisses with supermodels whilst power-ballads played over it. The ’10s saw a Batman that battled terrorists on home ground. It was of its time and should be viewed as such.

        Moreover, Batman is, by definition, a serious character. He is the product of a violent childhood, orphaned at a young age. Does that darkness need to pervade every aspect of a film? Of course not. When we look at Batman or Batman Returns, it chokes the fun out of it entirely. There needs to be something to offset it, lest it become something akin to a psychological examining of the character. Batman Forever was not that. Batman Forever was a glorious, unashamed romp. The film is unfairly compared to Nolan’s work and Burton’s blackened, goth-like qualities. Instead, it should stand alone as the oddity it is. Would you compare the likes of, say, From Russia With Love or The Spy Who Loved Me to Casino Royale or Skyfall? Of course you wouldn’t. But not for a single second can you say that Skyfall or Casino Royale is better than From Russia With Love or The Spy Who Loved Me. They’re enjoyed in the context of their era. And so should Batman Forever – a glittering, splashy adventure with no semblance of seriousness or rigidity.


        • 15 Worst Versions Of Batman, Ranked


          Batman Forever was the beginning of the end of the first Batman franchise that Tim Burton and co. successfully started in 1989. Director Joel Shumacher took over and made a lot of changes to the tone and visual style, with an excess of neon lights and Bat-nipples. Yes, Batman’s costume inexplicably bore nipples.

          Batman’s first line of dialogue isn’t good either. Alfred asks him if he’d like to take a sandwich with him and Batman replies, “I’ll get drive-through.” Quite terrible, but at least it sets the tone for the rest of the movie. In all fairness, Val Kilmer isn’t bad as Batman. He’s even a pretty decent Bruce Wayne. It’s just what the filmmakers gave him to work with that kills his version of Batman. What can you really expect when you have lines like “it’s the car right? Chicks dig the car.”

          The movie did decide to alter his origin and introduce aspects that were interesting, but it ultimately failed in its execution. The movie was a box office success and unfortunately opened the door for an even more terrible movie.




        While Michael Keaton’s two Batman movies were nowhere near as grim and gritty as Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, they were way better than Joel Schumacher’s sequels. No other actor who portrayed the Dark Knight matched the tortured and disturbed performance Keaton brought to the character. Once Keaton put down the cowl and Tim Burton moved on, Schumacher started directing, resulting in the franchise becoming a cartoonish satire of itself. Surprisingly, the subsequent actors’ performances in the following Batman movies didn’t help matters much either.


        There’s not much to say about Val Kilmer’s performance as Batman. Despite starring in the title role of Batman Forever, he’s kind of forgettable. Whatever you say about Val Kilmer’s performance as Batman, however, it’s light years above George Clooney’s turn in the cape and cowl in Batman & Robin. Sure, Clooney looked the part of Bruce Wayne, but that’s as far as his talents extend in this movie. His most egregious crime: he smiles way too much. Even while he tells Dick Grayson that Alfred is dying, he fights back a smirk. It’s almost as if Clooney could foresee just how bad Batman & Robin would be. We would’ve gladly preferred Kilmer’s return if we knew what Clooney had in store.


    • Which Comic Book Actor Played These 5 Roles Better?

      Michael Keaton: When the 1989 Batman film came out, the only previous live action iterations of the Caped Crusade were the actors that had played him in 1940s film serials and Adam West in the 1960s TV series. So Michael Keaton had free reign to make Batman his own, and he made quite an impression. He was aloof and likable as the public Bruce Wayne, but as Batman he was an intense force that was determined to rid Gotham City of crime. In Batman Returns, he was successful in making Batman even more of a badass while also adding layers of tragedy to the character. How’s that for a comedy actor?

      Val Kilmer: When Keaton decided not to do the third Batman film, Val Kilmer was recruited to take his place. While his Bruce Wayne was decent in Batman Forever, he didn’t do much to distinguish his Batman from the previous incarnation of the billionaire playboy. Most of his lines were delivered in a monotonous tone, and his version didn’t feel so much like Batman as a guy desperately wanting to be Batman. Franky, there simply wasn’t anything notable about this iteration of a character.

      Conclusion: While Batman Forever gets more hate than it probably deserves, there’s no denying that Michael Keaton did a better job than Val Kilmer. Keaton was more intimidating as the Dark Knight while Kilmer was a weak successor that failed to impress most viewers. At least we can say they both did a better job than George Clooney.


    • Why Joel Schumacher’s ‘Batman’ Movies Don’t Totally Suck

      Val Kilmer’s Batman voice

      Even hardcore Nolan acolytes like to poke fun at Christian Bale’s Batman voice, a ludicrously over-the-top growl that sounds a bit like a Bernese mountain dog trying to impersonate a human being. Michael Keaton mostly just whispered when he put on the cape and cowl; George Clooney didn’t even attempt to disguise his natural speaking voice as Batman. (Like a lot of Batman & Robin, he was channelling Adam West and the old ’60s Batman TV show.) Ben Affleck’s Batman uses a microphone to give his dialogue a deep, robotic reverb that makes Bale’s interpretation sound understated by comparison. The best Batman voice to date belongs to Val Kilmer. His Batman speaks softly but confidently, and his dry, even tone helps sell the screenplay’s schlockiest punchlines.

      Kilmer’s a good Batman overall, at least as the Batman of Batman Forever. He gets the movie Schumacher’s making, which is both hyper-melodramatic and giddily campy. And he leans into the fetishistic side of Batman. His Bruce Wayne might still be haunted by his parents’ deaths, but he seems to get a sly kick out of his alter ego. This is something a lot of Batman movies, even some of the good ones, miss. Bruce Wayne might start being Batman to avenge his parents’ deaths. But one of the reasons he stays Batman is the thrill. And you can hear that in every word Val Kilmer speaks.


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


  118. 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 🙂


    • 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!


  119. he should try cable show like a cop show. I could totally see him in a criminal minds role


  120. kilmer never really took off to a list. People watched batman forever to the batman flick. Other then that he never had a movie make a lot of money on his name alone. I maybe wrong but kilmer was one of the actors close to a list but missed by a bit, He was a good actor but like costner he argued with directors alot and then the top directors didnt want to work with him. He should take a cue with cruise work with top directors and let them call the shots


    • At the time, Kilmer sure felt like an A-list actor. In retrospect, you are probably right that he was not. The same has been said of Michelle Pfeiffer. She was considered A-list for a very long time. But aside from Batman Returns, her biggest hit as a lead was Dangerous Minds. That is the only movie you can ever say she opened.


    • I would immediately like to assume that if Val Kilmer were ever officially considered “A-list”, it was when he landed the Batman role. I think, that was the first major hit movie that Val had (yes, he was in stuff like “Top Gun” before that) in which he was the lead.


  121. what lies beneath made a lot of money although maybe it sold fords name iam not sure. From what i heard he is even difficult then before so i dont really see him ever coming back unlike other actors on the list if kilmer became less difficult worked with a top director became supporting role to big star it might lead to better roles but thats for his agent to decide if kilmers keeps being a prick to directors iam gonna continue seeing him in direct to dvd movies


  122. my friend went to movie festival and apparently him and bruce willis dont sign autogrpahs an are very rude about it. I never liked willis or kilmer thought they were bad actors hearing this made me relizie why kilmers career went down. Hes not just dick to directors hes an ass to fans who actors wouldnt have career without


  123. From box-office bomb to cult favorite in the making: Classic MacGruber:

    by Matt Singer

    Each week, The Dissolve designates a Movie Of The Week for staffers and readers to watch and discuss, with a lead-off essay on Tuesday, a roundtable-style Forum on Wednesday, and other related features to follow. Feel free to pitch in or suggest your own discussion points.

    According to Box Office Mojo, 129 films played on more than 1,000 screens in the United States in 2010. The lowest-grossing wide release of the year was The Warrior’s Way, a bizarre ninja Western starring Jang Dong-gun, Geoffrey Rush, and Kate Bosworth. The second-lowest was MacGruber, an adaptation of a mildly popular Saturday Night Live sketch parodying the 1980s action series MacGyver. Among the movies that made more than MacGruber: Extraordinary Measures, Jonah Hex, and Furry Vengeance, starring Brendan Fraser as a real-estate developer at war with a raccoon, which holds just an 8 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but more than doubled MacGruber’s domestic gross.

    MacGruber fared better with critics—it got a 47 percent on Rotten Tomatoes—and worse with general audiences. In its first three days of release, MacGruber made just $4 million, about $65 million less than the weekend’s biggest movie, Shrek Forever After, and only about $1 million more than the Tina Fey comedy Date Night, which had already been out in theaters for a month and a half. Of the 113 films in domestic theaters that May weekend, 40 films had better per-screen averages than MacGruber, including Princess Kaiulani, Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo, and the re-releases of The Cremaster Cycle and Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. MacGruber lingered in the theaters for just two more weeks, and ended its pitiful 21-day run with $9.3 million in worldwide ticket sales. MacGruber cost just $10 million to make—and somehow it still lost money.

    It was a sad fate, but also an appropriate one. Created by director Jorma Taccone, MacGruber has one schtick. He’s MacGyver—a plucky, resourceful adventurer with a flowing mullet—but completely incompetent. Where MacGyver found his way out of every death trap through the use of improvised gadgets he built out of everyday household items, MacGruber fails to disarm the explosives he and his assistants encounter. Each SNL sketch ends with a fatal blast, and each subsequent sketch begins with MacGruber and his team back on the job, no worse for wear. There’s something beautifully poetic about all of this: MacGruber, the man who could never stop a bomb, couldn’t stop his own movie from bombing either.

    In hindsight, the film’s failure looks just as inevitable as its hero’s. By 2010, Saturday Night Live had rightfully earned a reputation as the supplier of Hollywood’s most consistently unfunny comedies. (Another ignominious stat: MacGruber is the lowest-grossing widely released SNL movie ever.) Even fans of the MacGruber sketches would concede they were an uncomfortable fit for a movie; few ran longer than 90 seconds, and one was essentially identical to the next. What were Taccone and co-writers John Solomon and Will Forte (who also plays MacGruber) going to do with the remaining 88 minutes? The average MacGyver episode ran half that length, and the show had been off the air for more than 15 years by 2010; few, if any, of SNL’s young audience had ever watched it. Taccone was one of the creative minds behind Saturday Night Live’s popular Digital Shorts, but he had never directed a feature, and Forte had just one starring role to his credit: The Brothers Solomon, which made even less money in theaters than MacGruber. On paper, the film looks like one of MacGruber’s jury-rigged gadgets, cobbled together from unlikely elements, and almost certainly doomed to disappoint.

    But bad ideas occasionally produce good movies, and MacGruber is a perfect example. Where most saw a guaranteed misfire, Taccone saw an opportunity: Rather than trod the same ground by further parodying the MacGyver television show, the MacGruber movie would send up the excessively macho action movies of the same period. Forte’s hero may look like Richard Dean Anderson, but he acts more like Rambo—if Rambo were a narcissistic coward who didn’t know how to fire an Uzi and also occasionally had sex with his wife’s ghost. After an opening scene where the villainous Dieter Von Cunth (Val Kilmer) steals a nuclear missile, MacGruber becomes a near carbon copy of Rambo III (and, to a lesser extent, Hot Shots! Part Deux, a previous Rambo spoof), with MacGruber retired to a Buddhist monastery in Ecuador, where his old boss Col. Faith (Powers Boothe, playing Richard Crenna) finds him and begs him to return to duty and save the world.

    MacGruber puts together a team of heroes (hilariously and inexplicably, they’re all played by professional wrestlers), and then after he accidentally murders them all with homemade C-4, he reluctantly partners with Ryan Phillippe’s uptight Dixon Piper and Kristen Wiig’s Vicki St. Elmo to infiltrate Cunth’s operation and retrieve the missile before it can be detonated on American soil. Or at least that’s what MacGruber should be doing. Mostly, he’s distracted by other, pettier concerns, like proving he’s a better soldier than Piper, flirting with Vicki, and finding and destroying the man who cut him off while he was driving in Las Vegas. (Piper later finds MacGruber’s “Clues Notebook,” which is just page after page of the man’s license plate—KFBR392—and doodles of MacGruber shitting on his face.)

    A lot of these gags are engineered to poke fun at the ridiculously noble and ripped he-men of 1980s action cinema, as is the visual aesthetic, designed by Taccone and director of photography Brandon Trost, which apes those movies’ glossy imagery. Every hallmark of the genre is faithfully duplicated—and then hilariously deflated. MacGruber falls to his knees and screams to the heavens to mourn the death of his brothers-in-arms—except he’s the one who killed them all. MacGruber walks away from an explosion in slow motion—except its the KFBR392 guy’s car, and MacGruber’s the one who set it on fire. MacGruber has a sweet ride of his own—a Mazda Miata with a front-end bra. It’s unveiled to the swaggering sounds of The Black Keys’ “Heavy Soul”—which gets interrupted by Toto’s cheese-pop “Rosanna” as Grubes turns on his detachable Blaupunkt stereo. MacGruber has a tough-guy one-liner—“Let’s go pound some Cunth”—but he says it over and over out of desperation and his inability to think of anything else to say. MacGruber and Vicki engage in a chaste, candlelit sex scene—and then Taconne cuts to a long, graphic shot of Forte humping Wiig while grunting like a wounded animal.

    Every good spoof needs a straight man. Airplane! had Leslie Nielsen’s Dr. Rumack, who never cracked even as he pulled eggs out of a sick woman’s mouth. Blazing Saddles had Gene Wilder’s Waco Kid, who didn’t bat an eye at outlaws punching horses in the face. Boothe’s unflappable Col. Faith is a sturdy presence throughout MacGruber, but the movie’s true straight man is Taccone, who shoots MacGruber as if it were a legitimately badass balls-to-the-wall action spectacular. Most modern spoofs, shot on the cheap by hacks, look like garbage. MacGruber looks good enough to stand beside (or, in some cases, ahead of) its inspirations. No matter how broad Forte gets—and at one point, he’s waddling through an action scene naked, with a celery stalk hanging out of his ass—Taccone never shoots him like he’s in on the joke. There are many deadpan actors; Taccone is the rare deadpan director.

    Forte, for his part, is a singularly fearless comedian, and not just because he’s willing to appear onscreen with celery up his butt. MacGruber is more than an idiot; at times, he’s an absolute monster. The origins of his feud with Cunth date back to their time together in college, when MacGruber stole Cunth’s girlfriend and then forced her to get an abortion. MacGruber, naturally, sees himself as a victim in the entire scenario, and Forte delivers the backstory in a stunning cold monologue. Most actors would be terrified to look this bad, and would try to redeem their character with charm or cheap laughs. Forte refuses to offer even a single redemptive quality—and then caps the scene by using Piper as a human shield in a gunfight. Classic MacGruber!

    Comedy is subjective, and humor that edgy is bound to turn off some viewers—and in this case, it did. MacGruber earned its share of positive reviews, but the writers who hated it really hated it. Newsday called the movie “contemptible.” The Daily Mail said Forte “lacks the slightest vestige of credibility or charm” and doubted he’d ever star in another movie. (Not a great prediction.) Big Hollywood said it was “a MacWaste of time,” while The Globe And Mail called it “MacAwful.” When the film was nominated for Movie Of The Week consideration, one writer at The Dissolve who shall remain nameless (Scott Tobias) groaned in disapproval. (To his credit, he’s since come around.)

    In his own dismissive pan for The New York Times, A.O. Scott repeatedly asked his readers “Why does this exist?” and ultimately found, within certain “ontological parameters,” that it did not. MacGruber’s box-office disaster nearly proved Scott right. But to MacGruber partisans, the film’s unfathomable origins were a significant part of its charm. In a world where seemingly every decision in Hollywood is motivated purely by its impact on the bottom line, MacGruber stands out by defying every rational commercial impulse. No studio executive alive (or at least employed) would request a soundtrack with so much terrible 1980s music, or a hero this shallow and despicable. Whatever your personal opinion of it, it’s hard to dispute that Taccone’s direction, Forte’s performance, a wildly unpredictable script, and a general go-for-broke attitude all make MacGruber unique. Good or bad, it’s no factory product.

    Furry Vengeance earned more at the box office than MacGruber, but it’s already been completely forgotten. Meanwhile, MacGruber is well on its way to becoming one of the biggest cult comedies of the last decade—and people are still discovering it. In a sense, the story of every cult movie is the story of a tragedy, because a film can only acquire true cult status through box-office failure. But the same things that ensured MacGruber’s financial failure cemented its creative success, and while it’s frustrating to watch a great movie flounder in theaters, quality does eventually win out. There’s some kind of cosmic justice in that. In the end, the cream rises to the top. And then it pounds some Cunth.


  124. KILMER could have capitalized in batman picked better roles by better director.i disagree with the person that said he not have balanced indies with blockbuster hanks does that even cruise it too nothing with it .Its called make one movie from the audience then one movie for the studio i heard he turned down thomas hayden church role in sideways if its true hes dumber then i thought i also saw him in interviews hes weird


  125. one movie for the actor one for the studio


  126. Michelle resume has always been more consistent then val she has a better opportunity her body of work is much better she been lead in more hits movies then val her last hit hairspray showed she still got it most of her movies unlike val are not direct to video now so she has some buzz


  127. 8 Most Demanding Hollywood Stars:


    My lecturer’s friend was an extra on The Saint. Everybody was told not to look Kilmer in the eye. Unfortunately the guy accidentally made eye contact with Val, and the next day he was fired as an extra.


    I read somewhere that on the set of Heat, Val Kilmer was giving Hell to a female assistant. And who but Al Pacino came to her defense, and put Kilmer in his place.


    Val Kilmer has some of the harshest quotes on the record I’ve ever heard from directors about an actor and considering he’s often brilliant which usually tends to gain more latitude that’s saying something.


    “There are two things I will never do in my life. I will never climb Mount Everest, and I will never work with Val Kilmer again. There isn’t enough money in the world . . . I don’t like Val Kilmer, I don’t like his work ethic, and I don’t ever want to be associated with him again . . . Will Rogers never met Val Kilmer.”—John Frankenheimer, “The Island of Dr. Moreau”

    “BUZZ magazine reported that after shooting Kilmer’s last scene, director John Frankenheimer shouted, ‘Cut! Now get that bastard off my set.'” –From PEOPLE, October 21, 1996

    [Whenever Kilmer sought to contribute his ideas, Frankenheimer snapped and said, “I don’t give a *****!” Kilmer also ran afoul of a cameraman, whom he burned with a cigarette while seemingly joking around]

    “Val is the most psychologically troubled human being I’ve ever worked with. The tools I used to work with him–tools of communication, of patience and understanding–were the tools I use on my five-year-old godson. Val is not just high-strung. I think he needs help. I say this to you only because I have said it to him.” –Joel Schumacher PREMIERE, April 1997

    “He was rude and inappropriate. He was childish and impossible. I was forced to tell him that this would not be tolerated for one more second. Then we had two weeks where he did not speak to me – but it was bliss.” –Joel Schumacher

    “Tombstone” was marred with onset difficulties, including the firing of original director, Kevin Jarre. Let go after a month of shooting, Jarre later remarked that “[t]here’s a dark side to Val that I don’t feel comfortable talking about.” To back his claim, he relayed an anecdote to Entertainment Weekly about Kilmer taking a locust from an excited stand-in and eating it in front of him before saying, “As you know, I have a reputation for being difficult. But only with stupid people.”

    “Kim [Basinger] was a delight to work with. But Kilmer–oh, my God, the guy is nuts! We paid him a million dollars and he was nothing but trouble. During the contract negotiations he was nice as pie. He was looking forward to the movie, couldn’t wait to work with director Russell Mulcahy–all the usual platitudes. But when he turned up on the set and Russell said something innocuous like ‘Val, if we could just run through this scene,’ Kilmer rounded on him and snarled, ‘Don’t you ever talk to me like that again.’ There was absolutely no logic to it all–it was ‘Looney Tunes’ stuff. It was the first day of filming and we all looked at each other and knew we had a big problem on our hands. From that moment, it was a case of struggling through.” —On the making of “The Real McCoy”, an unnamed executive quoted in DAILY NEWS June 23, 1996

    [His on set troubles continued when news surfaced that he lost control during an argument with director Russell Mulcahy over changing his scenes, leading to him firing a prop gun at a car.]


    I wonder how difficult Kilmer was to work with during “Prince of Egypt” since most, if not all of the other actors wouldn’t even be required to be there on set with him while he recorded his lines. Of course, the sound people and the studio, and of course the director would still have to be around.


    I wonder if Kilmer still tries to be a demanding bully on set now that he’s reduced to being in movies like MacGruber?


    • As I said, the man is a perfectionist; he is also a genius. These are normal “Prima Donna” things my attorneys do and use. Why does this make him any more different or difficus to work with than others? All the comments work to black list the actor; that really isn’t fair. After all that is why he is on the set, maybe it’s nerves?


      • Are any actors blacklisted today?

        This is true, and Sean Young is a good example, even if the reputation isn’t fair. The reality, as I understand it, is that she clashed with James Woods on a film (the rumor is that she refused his advances), and Woods, a notorious prick, started spreading slanderous rumors about her.

        A better example would be Val Kilmer. He’s an amazingly talented actor who gets bored really easily, and acts out. Look at his performance in The Island of Dr. Moreau — during the dinner table scene, where he’s supposed to just be sitting there, he’s doing all sorts of little business in the background, trying to upstage the other actors. He obviously thinks he’s wasting his time with the stuff Hollywood usually gives him, so he behaves badly to demonstrate his displeasure. It’s too bad, because when he’s actually engaged in a part, he does amazing work (Tombstone). Unfortunately, that happens rarely, so he has the reputation of being exceedingly difficult on a set (read what Tom Sizemore said about him on Red Planet), and he doesn’t get as much work as he might otherwise.


    • As I said, the man is a perfectionist; he is also a genius. These are normal “Prima Donna” things my attorneys do and use. Why does this make him any more different or difficus to work with than others? All the comments work to black list the actor; that really isn’t fair. Let’s be honest though…Val back in the day had a lot of movies he should have, could have, and would have if he had just thought “it’s all for business” instead of canceling movie after movie after movie. I remember when he was huge and had first choice at any movie…however, other co-actors on the script caused him to make poor, irrational, and bad career choices. No one’s fault there but Kilmer being arrogant and his backside? Go figure. I am hoping for his return sooner rather than later, and know a host of smoothie recipesto help him loose any extra weight. I have faith he will be back.


  128. kiss kiss bang was close to the right direction taking quality in supporting roles would help like conneray in untouchables this is problem with big stars they think taking supporting roles is a step down but u know its better to have a supporting role in good movie then starring role in crap one costners supporting roles in man of steel helped him a bit kilmer should take note


  129. out of three actors in slab boys penn career is the best bacon is 2nd kilmer


  130. hoffman was difficult to work with but had amazing body of work close to deniros if your movies sell directors dont care if u are difficult entertainment industry is a business and the number goal in business is to make money most of kilmers problem was choosing bad scripts but being difficult didnt help me either penn and crowe are asshole but they make better choices then kilmer


  131. lebeau kilmer has a movie called knights of cups coming up with bale portman and gosling three box office stars terence malliack a well respected director directing it could be like kiss kiss bang bang a strong supporting role i think strong supporting roles is what kilmer needs but not to critize your website its a good site i just notice u seem to pick on kilmer a lot like he has the worst career out of everyone on the site he dosent there r worse like segal snipes patric too


  132. Still an attractive individual with beautiful eyes…with Val it’s easy…he just has grown tired and digested with who he has become today. Wonder why his movies have dropped off, when Val usedbto be a very bug household name. Maybe, no scripts worth putting him back in the front of the camera? His performance in Salton Sea for this perfectionist was over the top, well done, a part made just for him. However since then, demons of his past seem or at least could be affecting him now. He is alone without a wife, children, or family…. Everyone ages, and we all at some point gain a few extra pounds here or there. He also is drinking a lot of alcohol. It shows in his face and his pores; but today “He” is His worst enemy.

    Movies like Top Gun, The Doors, Salton Sea, or who could forget, The Saint, put him over the moon and solidified his popularity. He is however, and everyone knows that he is a complicated actor always honing his craft.

    The very best actor of all time. I could never figure this man out. People I know who know of him, worked with him on set have noted a perfectionist, at times he being both difficult and moody, but these are the traits of a true perfectionist especially when “your name” is connected to a film. Kilmer has been a favorite if mine for decades; I always wish him well. I wonder if he ever grieved the death of his sibling? Years of history eventually catches up with us all. Sometimes we can handle the demons, but a lot of times we can’t. He’s human so I wish him the time needed to grapple with, adjust, and get back on track.


  133. kilmer was never a list people he was all hype heartthrob magazines everywhere but batman forever was his only leading hit did they watch for him no he was hyped as a list but didnt have a box office records to really back it up when an actor is hyped a lot it gives the idea hes an a list he was on the verge of it but failed


    • How Tobey Maguire Almost Lost “Spider-Man 2” (long story):

      For Maguire, the stakes were extremely high. In the past, rising stars have seen their fortunes change when they did not reprise their roles in major action franchises. It happened to Alec Baldwin after he balked at continuing as Jack Ryan in the Paramount Pictures films based on Tom Clancy’s bestsellers. And it happened to Val Kilmer after a troublesome turn as Batman.


  134. Retrospective / Review: Willow (1988):


  135. i didnt relize till i read the comment yes he never made a list lebeau i think u should edit it about saying he may never have reached a list


  136. better we need a separate article if kilmer was ever a list people can comment on it


  137. oBYTuary: RIP Val Kilmer

    Sometimes I wonder where Val Kilmer is and then it occurs to me…Fat Val Kilmer must have eaten Thin Val Kilmer, there’s just no other explanation for it. It’s like an Ouroboros that keeps getting bigger with each new cycle.

    My earliest cinematic memory of Kilmer is from the film “Top Secret!” in which he plays Nick Rivers, an Elvis-like pop star who goes to East Germany for a cultural festival (hell of a lot of culture in East Germany) and becomes involved with a beautiful woman and the French resistance. Kilmer has flawless comedic timing. It’s that egotistical, dry sarcasm that Vince Vaughn later adopted and never let go. My favorite scene in the film is entirely backwards. It’s brilliant.

    One year later one of my top 10 favorite films was released, “Real Genius.” Kilmer stars as Chris Knight, a lazy super smart senior attending Pacific Tech whose main purpose at the school is to develop a laser for the slimy Professor Jerry Hathaway (who is actually selling this to the military), played by William Atherton. In this film Kilmer’s character is newly roommated with Mitch Taylor (Gabriel Jarret) a mere 15 year-old. Now let’s just pause for a moment here. Does anyone remember what Gabriel Jarret looks like in this film? He lands a pretty hot broad all while wearing a sweater vest and having more lady qualities than I do on my best day. Let’s continue. Chris Knight is intelligent, witty, charming, goofy, everything you could ever want in a boy you date before you find the guy you’re actually going to marry. Kilmer fucking nails it. Also the final scene of the film involves a house filled to the brim with popcorn while a Tears for Fears song plays. Can’t beat that.

    Then Kilmer’s career took a slightly more serious turn. I “said” slightly…with the film “Top Gun.” Kilmer played Lt. Tom “Iceman” Kazanski the antagonist to protagonist Pete “Maverick” Mitchell played by Tom Cruise. Ice Man is the straight flyer while true to his name Maverick is the daredevil. Always going for the big score if you know what I mean (I don’t really know what I mean). There are jets! There are women! There is a danger zone with a highway leading directly to it! There are homoerotic undertones between Ice Man and Maverick! This film truly has it all plus a then in the closet Kelly McGillis.

    I may lose a few people here but I’m glad Kilmer decided to dip his toes in the fantasy waters with the film “Willow,” released in 1988. Kilmer was in top physical shape during this movie. He had to be. His character Madmartigan is a mercenary sword fighting loner who begrudgingly befriends Willow, played by the lovely and talented Warwick Davis. Willow is sent on a mission to return a child to the world of humans but soon discovers she is part of a great prophecy. Kilmer still uses his biting wit here and is half-naked throughout the entire film. Also, magic!

    Over the next few years Kilmer really showed his darker side, first by playing a very convincing Jim Morrison in the film “The Doors,” (fun fact my mom once made out with Jim Morrison at a concert and maybe I’ll bring things full circle by making out with Val Kilmer someday!) then by playing the ailing Doc Holliday in “Tombstone.” The film also starred Sam Elliott’s moustache and everyone’s favorite line “I’m your huckleberry.”

    Now things will begin to take a confusing turn as Kilmer stepped into the role of Batman formerly played by Michael Keaton (who I think we can all agree on was the best Batman). My favorite part of this film is Seal’s “Kiss From a Rose,” because that song makes no sense and we finally learned what happened to Seal’s face…kissed by one too many roses I guess.

    A couple of years after “Batman Forever,” (it literally felt like it lasted forever) he played Simon Templar in a bizarre espionage film called “The Saint,” also starring Elizabeth Shue. I loved this film. He’s deep and brooding and everything Batman should have been. It was oddly romantic and worth a watch if you’ve never seen it.

    He did a bunch of terrible movies then landed on “Wonderland,” where he played 1970’s porn star John Holmes in this film about the famed Wonderland Murders. It was dirty, drug-addled and was basically something I’d watch on Investigation Discovery since I watch that channel 8 hours/day. Find it. It’s great.

    Then in 2005 Kilmer, just beginning to balloon up, landed “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” with an on his way back up Robert Downey Jr. This fucking film is HILARIOUS and Kilmer plays a gay detective. I’m sure I had you all at RDJ and gay detective.

    And then I literally don’t know what happened. Scrolling through the list of films Kilmer made after “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” I barely recognize any of them (THE TEN COMMANDMENTS: THE MUSICAL????). What in the world happened? If we could just get some kind of timeline, which let’s face it would look suspiciously like a buffet. When and why did Kilmer start eating his feelings? I sincerely hope he makes a return to the big screen and is slightly less big on screen. Until that day I’ll just pine for the days when I wanted to kiss kiss bang bang him.


    • He was never a list outside batman and top gun have any if his movies made money .answer is no and he was not the reason they made money


  138. i agree never made a list. He was never the reason people saw his movies his movies that made money were top gun and batman forever there is no way people saw it for him. Take hanks for example he was on screen by himself for over 1 hour in castway it made money can kilmer do that


  139. david would you agree with me never made a list. It seemed like the only leading hit he had ws batman forever and people went to see batman forever not the next kilmer flick


    • 10 Overlooked Positives Of Batman Forever:

      1. Val Kilmer’s Batman

      Poor Val Kilmer. The once promising co-star of Top Gun, Heat and Tombstone came so close to making the A-list. Now making a living from supporting roles and the butt of far too many cruel ‘look how fat these celebrities got’ clickbait article jokes, Kilmer is destined to go down in history as the most forgotten Batman. Coming after the wonderful Michael Keaton and before the too-memorably awful George Clooney, this suave, thoughtful Bruce Wayne never stood a chance. And now, following the intense Christian Bale and in the run-up to the much publicised Ben Affleck, it doesn’t look as though he’ll be getting his share of the appreciation anytime soon.

      While Kilmer’s quiet performance hardly sets Gotham on fire, it’s just the anchor Batman Forever needs. Amidst the hyperactive tomfoolery of Tommy Lee Jones’s Two-Face and Jim Carrey as The Riddler, Kilmer tries to keep things grounded, beset with buffoonery (more of that later) from all sides. Having to share a screen with the surprisingly terrible Nicole Kidman and ridiculous Chris O’ Donnell can’t have helped either.

      Giving a fine performance in a flawed movie, Val Kilmer is to Batman as Timothy Dalton is James Bond. Replaced after one film, we can’t help but wish he’d stuck around for a while longer. With Kilmer still under the cowl, just imagine how much more mileage Schumacher could have wrung from his many ‘Iceman’ jokes in Batman And Robin.


  140. yes tereence u r right kilmer never a list this article proves it he came close but nothing


  141. Leabu I think he is right. It seemed like at kilmer was a successful character actor.I read your article that said jake was never a list even though currently he is a huge draw he had alot of leading hits that would not have made money without him. it makes no sense how you consider val one but not him


  142. ok lol could you at least do a kevin costner vs ben affleck smackdown


  143. thats all i ask for


  144. Val Kilmer Allegedly Rushed To The Hospital Because He Was ‘Bleeding From The Throat’


  145. i bet u feel bad about those fat pictures now


  146. hes in the hospital now what if god forbid he dies u wont feel bad for all that ridicule you gave him. I dont think hes a good actor plus hes a jerk but i feel bad for insults i said about him. I dont want anything to happen to him .I wouldnt wish death upon my worst enemy


    • As I have said in the past, I wish all of my WTHH subjects well. Kilmer maybe more than others. He’s practically my mascot. He’s the face of the site.

      Having said that, no matter what happens I’m not going to feel bad about poking a little fun at a celebrity. He can take it. Some day, everyone I have written about will be gone. Most likely, I won’t live forever either.

      I think I speak for us all when I say I wish Mr. Kilmer a speedy recovery and many years of happiness and good health. But I don’t regret anything.


    • you don’t have to…everyone dies no matter what we do. It would be sad if he were to die prematurely, but to think that any of the trifles we’ve posted here has any relationship to that would be to vastly overrate our own importance.


  147. you dont feel slight bit bad about insulting val on his weight.


    • Asked and answered.


      • Hey moviemike, if you read through a lot of Lebeau’s writings I think you’ll find he will be the first to wish good things for his WTHH subjects.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Moviemike has been around here for a while under a bunch of different aliases. He has a habit of picking a subject and staying on it no matter what.

          If Mr Kilmer takes a turn for the worse, I will probably change my avatar. It could be seen as bad taste. The article will get an update at some point. I have been meaning to incorporate Kilmer’s weight loss. But the fat pictures will stay no matter what. They are part of the story.


      • I am a bit worried about the actor who played Mr. Mojo Risin’. Reportedly he had lost weight for a role, and he had been enjoying somewhat of a career resurgence. But the rumour about his being hospitalized for a throat tumor, and the fact that he is now in ICU, is troubling. He apparently posted on his FB page that he doesn’t have cancer. I appreciate that his family is protecting his privacy and I don’t think any of us are entitled to know anything beyond what he wants us to know. I’m hoping for the best for him.

        Liked by 1 person

  148. moviemike does that alot. i dont care if val was a list or not he was batman and iceman


  149. iam not movie mike


    • Sure you’re not.

      I get info from WP that identifies people no matter what name they use. Feel free to post under whatever name you like. But let’s not pretend to be different people.


  150. i just hope val i sok


  151. Let’s Remember ‘Willow’ And Look At What The Cast Has Been Up To:

    Val Kilmer (Madmartigan)

    Val Kilmer’s performance as the mercenary with the heart of gold was — along with Real Genius and Top Gun — apart of his early big work on the big screen, and this performance was one that catapulted him to the A-List. Let’s be real: Val Kilmer basically ruled the ’90s. He would go on to star many other films, including The Doors, Tombstone, Batman Forever, Heat, and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. He has most recently become the world’s greatest living Mark Twain impersonator. There’s also the lingering possibility that he may one day run for public office, though it would be pretty great to see him get a Michael Keaton-esque stab at a comeback.

    Fun fact: Kilmer and actress Joanne Whalley met while working on the film. They were married later in 1988, and they have two children. The two would eventually divorce in 1996.


  152. 10 Actors Whose Craziness Got Them Kicked Out Of Hollywood:

    Val Kilmer

    You don’t see Val Kilmer much nowadays, do you? Could that be a result of his huge and crazy ego, perhaps, which means that almost nobody wants to work with him?

    Val Kilmer always had a reputation for being a bit crazy, of course, but there came a point where Hollywood decided that it could get by perfectly fine without Kilmer and his antics, thank you very much, and decided to stop putting up with his sh*t. Just like that.

    Because Kilmer was reportedly a nightmare to work with on pretty much every movie he ever made, including Tombstone, The Island of Dr. Moreau and Batman Forever (the list goes on) – serious to a fault and armed with an ego unlike anybody had ever seen (even in Hollywood), he also fell out with Tom Cruise on Top Gun – one of Hollywood’s biggest players – which only helped to stall his career and cement his eventual decline.

    After word of mouth got around, Kilmer’s reputation hit toxic levels and the community of Tinseltown threw up their collective hands and said: That’s enough, Val. We’re done.”


  153. Full Metal Jacket and Its Troubled Production:

    Modine opens the book personally. He was just starting to make money as an actor. He bought a house with his wife. Val Kilmer was talking s*** about him. Modine may or may not have gotten the role of Joker because of Kilmer. Modine tells a story about how he and actor David Allen Grier were out to dinner in New York City when Modine saw Kilmer looking at him and cursing. Grier went over to see what was what and Kilmer bitched that Modine was cast in some Vietnam movie that Stanley Kubrick was making. Modine said he wasn’t aware of it, but hey, what a great idea. He sent in clips from Birdy as an audition. Kubrick cast him in spite of the clip he never watched which he deemed a shouting match.


  154. I will admit, since stumbling onto this site recently, I have been quite stuck on it and find a lot of the reads entertaining. But there are a couple of things I must point out

    1,-You do seem to downplay certain roles calling them “small” that really arent that small. For instance, you say that Kilmer had a small role in Deja Vu, he’s actually in a pretty good chunk of that movie and its kind of disrespectful to say otherwise. To have 3rd or 4th billing in a Hollywood made production is very good. Its not like he was the doorman and said “here’s your morning paper sir” and dissapeared.

    2-I noticed you keep saying certain films made a small profit and thats really not the case. A film that makes a few dollars more than the budget hurts. A film often splits 50% with the distributor, and basically has to make 3 times the budget to be profitable.

    Simple math, if a film cost 10 Million and makes 20 million, the company will pretty much break even. It would have to rely on DVD sales and rentals to offset some of the advertising cost and to produce some type of profit. So a film like TITANIC costing 200million, definately needed to clear 600 million. But clearly that gamble paid off.

    Other than that, keep up the good work!


    • Thanks Kelly. I’m glad you found the site and seem to be mostly enjoying the articles. I think you raise some valid points. Let me try to address them.

      1. There’s an old saying that “there are no small roles, only small actors.” When I refer to a role as “small” I’m usually talking about screen time. It’s been a while since I watched Deja Vu so I may be off on that one. But my recollection was that Kilmer wasn’t on-screen more than a quarter of the movie’s overall runtime. Perhaps it would be more accurate to call the part a supporting role. Billing is important and third or fourth billing can be significant. Although I would argue that anything after top billing in a movie like Deja Vu doesn’t count for much. That movie was sold mostly on Washington’s star power. Check out the poster:

      Jerry Bruckheimer and Tony Scott were bigger selling points than Kilmer. I would wager that most ticket buyers going to see Deja Vu in 2006 had no idea Kilmer was in the movie when they bought their tickets.

      1. Box office is even trickier to talk about. There is no one formula for calculating the profitability of a movie. Hollywood accounting is more art than science. If a movie earns back it’s production budget domestically, I agree it didn’t turn a profit. The rule of thumb I have gone by is that a movie should earn back twice its production costs in the US to be profitable. But with a lot of movies making more overseas than they do in the US and all the complexities involved in international profits, there just isn’t a good formula. Your “3 times” rule seems extremely conservative to me. But on a movie where marketing costs were sky-high, I’m sure there are times when that is true.

      I don’t want to and am not equipped to break down the accounting of every movie I cover. I don’t think most readers would be interested in that even if I could. The general idea is to give a sense of “hit”, “miss”, “disappointment”, “home run” or “flop”. I probably should avoid the word “profit” because it falls into a grey area. More recent articles tend to talk about box office in terms of placement in relation to other releases as opposed to “profitability”.

      Any way, thanks for the feedback. I’ll keep these points in mind going forward and as I revise some of the older articles.


  155. What Happened to Val Kilmer? What is He Doing Now?

    It wasn’t long ago that you couldn’t have a conversation about leading men without discussing Val Kilmer, who played Tom Cruise’s rival in Top Gun, Doc Holliday in Tombstone, and Bruce Wayne in Batman Forever. While Kilmer portrayed Batman in only one film, being replaced by George Clooney in the sequel, nobody could deny the acting talent of the Julliard educated tour-de-force that was the young Val Kilmer. So how did the man who reached the heights of Gotham city fall so far below the radar? Read on to find out.

    After excelling at the world-renowned Juilliard School for the performing arts, where he was accepted at the time as the school’s youngest student ever, Val Kilmer got his big break with two 80’s comedies. In the action comedy Top Secret!, Kilmer portrayed rock star Nick Rivers, who finds himself accidentally embroiled in the Cold War politics and spy games of a Berlin Wall era East Germany. A real life musician, Kilmer sang in the film and on a corresponding soundtrack from his fictional character, Nick Rivers. In Real Genius, Kilmer stole the show as an eccentric physics genius, prankster, and party animal who teams up with more traditional nerds to foil a CIA plot to use their research as a weapon.

    It was Top Gun that made Kilmer truly famous though. In 1986, Val Kilmer played Lieutenant Tom “Iceman” Kazanski, a cool to the core ace pilot and top student at the Navy’s Fighter Weapons School nicknamed “Top Gun.” Iceman and Cruise’s “Maverick” competed for the head of the class position in Tony Scott’s high octane, adrenaline fueled classic, eventually becoming friends after teaming up to take down rogue Russian fighter jets. Kilmer rounded out the 80’s with leading roles in Ron Howard’s fantasy epic, Willow, and Gore Vidal’s Billy the Kid. On the set of Willow, Kilmer met and fell for his costar Joanne Whalley, and the two were married soon afterwards. Around this same time, Kilmer began to develop a reputation of being difficult to work with, eccentric, and egocentric.

    val-kilmer-youngThe 90’s saw Kilmer coming into his own as a powerful lead in historical epics and major blockbusters. Kilmer took up the mantle of musical legend Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone’s 1991 biopic The Doors. For his casting as lead in the film, Kilmer beat out Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, Bono, John Travolta, and even Richard Gere after sending the director his own homemade music video. During filming, however, Kilmer often clashed with Stone about the direction of the script. In his next movie, Kilmer became dangerous gunslinger Doc Holliday, battling alongside Kurt Russell’s Wyatt Earp at the O.K. Corral in 1993’s Tombstone. The film was one of the most critically and commercially successful Westerns of all time when it was released, and it was considered a major success for the up and coming Kilmer. For his commitment to the Doc Holliday role, he was noticed by Joel Schumacher, a director best known for his thrillers The Lost Boys, Falling Down, St. Elmo’s Fire, and two Batman films. Schumacher offered Kilmer the lead role in 1995’s Batman Forever.

    Batman Forever was one of the highest grossing films of 1995 and brought Kilmer to mainstream action audiences. In the flick, Kilmer starred alongside Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, and Nicole Kidman. Unlike its Tim Burton predecessors, Schumacher’s Batman films drew more heavily from the Golden Age pulpy, slapstick-heavy Batman comics, and also from the campy 1960’s television series. Kilmer did not repeat his role in the sequel, Batman and Robin. He came into conflict with Schumacher on the film’s focus on the villains; Kilmer felt that he should be the star of the show. This continued to cement Kilmer’s status as combative, and the movie was the high point of Kilmer’s career financially.

    Kilmer’s next few roles were in dramatic action movies that struggled to achieve the highs of his earlier career. These included The Saint, a spy thriller based on a long running radio, television, and book franchise, and The Ghost and the Darkness. Kilmer also worked with Marlon Brando in The Island of Dr. Moreau, a heavily panned remake about an island of human-animal hybrid creatures. Another misstep came with 2000’s science fiction box office flop, Red Planet. Around this time, Kilmer and his wife were divorced. Kilmer continued to take roles in lesser known films like Mindhunters, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Alexander, and Tony Scott’s Déjà Vu. By 2007, Kilmer was the butt of jokes like Bowling For Soup’s song “Val Kilmer” and most of his work was limited to television cameos, horror films, and limited release flicks.

    Unlike many actors fallen on hard times, Kilmer has not stopped working. He has appeared in sometimes as many as four or five films each year, generally in minor or supporting roles. Kilmer is slated to appear in avant-garde director Terrence Malick’s upcoming musical drama, Weightless, in which Kilmer will play second banana to A-listers that could include Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender, Benicio Del Toro, and Cate Blanchett. While the light from Kilmer’s star pales in comparison to these current Hollywood greats, Kilmer’s early career legacy remains intact. No less than House of Cards’ Kevin Spacey has stated that he got into acting after seeing an early Val Kilmer performance.


    • The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996)

      This remake has some of the funniest blurbs I’ve ever read:

      -Fairuza Balk tried to escape the production but was caught on the airport and sent back to the set.

      -Marlon Brando wore a small radio receiver to aid him remembering his lines. Co-star David Thewlis claimed “He’d be in the middle of a scene and suddenly he’d be picking up police messages and Marlon would repeat, ‘There’s a robbery at Woolworths’.”

      -Richard Stanley had spent four years developing the project, only to be fired after four days.

      -After being fired by the studio, original director Richard Stanley was rumored to have prevailed upon the makeup crew to turn him into one of the background mutants, so that he could at least keep tabs on the making of his dream project. He supposedly did not unmask himself until the wrap party.

      -When Val Kilmer showed up on set two days late, it was clear that he hadn’t learned any lines or knew much about his character.

      -Richard Stanley consulted a warlock in London for advice on the film, such as casting Marlon Brando. When he died, the production went downhill.

      -Actors playing Moreau’s creations would spend hours in makeup, only to find out that they weren’t needed. At one point, a day’s filming was cancelled when Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer refused to come out of their trailers until the other did.

      -When John Frankenheimer demanded more extras, some homeless hippies living in the nearby rainforest were brought in.


    • Which actor has wasted their talent or good will the most?

      Val Kilmer Springs to mind. What a pompous ass.


  156. Why Do Reputable Actors Keep Making Movies With 50 Cent?

    50 Cent’s output in the last few years has been remarkable: While still releasing major-label albums and occasionally acting in studio movies, he’s managed to fund, produce, star, and sometimes even write a steady string of nearly indistinguishable B-movie crime thrillers. But the really amazing thing? The quality of his co-stars. 50 isn’t satisfied playing guns and robbers with guys whose best-known work was a two-episode arc on Party Of Five. Somehow, some way, he lands actors you not only recognize but also might actually like. Set Up, the latest in the 50 Cent assembly line of schlock, arrives on DVD today with both Ryan Philippe and Bruce Willis on its cover. How does 50 pull this off? Below, we look back on his recent filmography and speculate.

    Streets of Blood (2008)
    In 2008, when 50 kicked off his current streak with this ill-advised post-Katrina corrupt-cop flick, he was only two years removed from Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, a high-profile 8 Mile-style roman à clef directed by the guy who did My Left Foot. Did the weighty subject matter and 50’s then-unestablished reputation for making crap trick co-stars Val Kilmer and Sharon Stone into thinking they were signing on for a normal movie?

    Gun (2010), Blood (2011)
    Val Kilmer returned for both of these movies. Why? Okay, yeah, Val’s bank account has seen better days, but he’s not quite at Kleinsian levels of desperation (he just did a movie with Francis Ford Coppola, after all). The only logical explanation, then, is that Val Kilmer really, really likes 50 Cent. Just listen to him describe Curtis to New Mexico Congressman Luciano Varela: “He’s so healthy in his mind and his attitude. And they shot him nine times … Nine! Not twice! He’s bionic. To be around him, he’s got an amazing feeling. Great spirit.”


    • Before he self destructed: chronicling the fall of 50 Cent:

      There was a time when Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson was unavoidable. With the exception of Snoop Doggy Dogg, it’s difficult to envision a rapper getting a bigger launch: his debut album Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ dominated the pop culture landscape in 2003, selling 12 million copies while its inescapable lead single “In Da Club” stayed at the top of the charts for nine weeks. The album made Rolling Stone’s list of the top 50 albums of the decade and became one of the most commercially successful rap albums of all time.

      His popularity transcended racial, gender, class, and generational divides. Your grandmother knew who 50 Cent was. She may even have felt comfortable enough with the rapper to refer to him as “Fiddy,” as every white person in the world once did. Backed by his mentors Dr. Dre and Eminem, Jackson once had so much power behind him that it seemed nearly impossible for him to fail.

      These days, however, it’s nearly impossible to imagine him succeeding. In the limp, late punchline to the grim joke that is his career, Jackson — a rapper whose preoccupation with money was obsessive even in a genre fixated on it — recently declared bankruptcy. A man whose never-released Columbia debut was to be called The Power Of The Dollar, who made a reported $100 million from his stake in Vitamin Water, and who in 2007 was the second wealthiest rapper in the industry — a man who named himself after money — was now conceding he was not financially solvent. A man who rocketed to fame shirtlessly bragging about being richer than everyone else donned a suit to meekly inform the court that he was not the pillar of wealth he was pretending to be.

      Jackson’s struggles were once a strength: he was a hip-hop Horatio Alger story who overcame his drug-dealing adolescence and getting shot nine times to become a massive superstar. But he has only himself to blame for his downfall, and now his story has a much darker context: it’s a cautionary tale of how hubris and bad decisions can torpedo any career. Twelve years ago, the idea of 50 Cent pleading for his financial life in bankruptcy court was inconceivable. Today, his bankruptcy engenders not shock or pity but Nelson Muntz-like cackles of “Ha ha!”

      That’s because Jackson’s fall is among the most deserved in pop culture, to the point a would-be rhetorical question like “where did it all go wrong?” has multiple, specific answers. Here are 10 of the seemingly infinite mistakes he made en route from being one of rap’s biggest winners to one of its biggest losers.


  157. I just watched Tombstone again tonight. For me this will always be the pinnacle of Val Kilmer’s career (barring some late-career resurgence)–he was definitely the finest Doc Holliday ever. Remember, he may be seeing double, but he has two guns, one for each of you!


  158. I apologize if I somehow brought this up before, long ago, but has anybody else heard about the rumors of Val Kilmer having an affair w/ Drew Barrymore when they were making “Batman Forever”? Apparently, Val’s wife named Barrymore as a third party in her divorce suit.


  159. lebeau any chance u will write about spacey . His career slowed down alot since oscar win. House eof cards his only high profile role.


    • House of Cards is high profile enough that I won’t cover him in WTHH any time soon. But he may pop up in things like the articles I wrote recently on The Usual Suspects and Seven.


  160. True but shue and tim allen are on a hit tv show and there on the list. Spacey name is associated with dreaded oscar curse. HIs career hasn’t lived up to his potential. But its your blog. I am huge spacey fan anyway so I am happy that he is not candidate for the list I just dislike his post Americna beauty film choices.


  161. Lebau i read douglas was billed after kilmer despite having small part due to being bigger star. But i read empire magazine top 100 greatest movie star in 1997 and kilmer was ranked higher then douglas. It makes me confuse if kilmer was really as big as everyon thought and was he really bigger then douglas. I tlak to few people who remember the 90s and dosent remember val being that big and other people say vice versa. I guess people remember things differently.


  162. Val Kilmer foils commies in a spy comedy from the directors of Airplane!

    Top Secret! (1984)

    Mocking disaster movies in 1982’s Airplane! made a lot of money for the writer-director team of Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker, and gave the trio enough Hollywood clout to make 1984’s rock ’n’ roll spy spoof Top Secret!—a much less commercial but in many ways more inspired comedy. Riffing on Elvis Presley musicals and cornball wartime romances, the ZAZ team reimagined the youth-oriented B-movie for the Reagan administration, making East German communists into cartoon villains while letting the impossibly handsome Val Kilmer represent everything awesome about America. Kilmer plays Nick Rivers, a pop idol who’s touring Europe with his hit single “Skeet Surfing” when he hooks up with a band of resistance fighters (played by Omar Sharif, Peter Cushing, and Lucy Gutteridge, among others) and finds himself fighting the reds. As with all the ZAZ films, the plot is just the long, tall wall against which the writers can hurl one gag after another—some related to the premise, some not.

    Over the years, the Zuckers and Abrahams have taken the disappointing financial return of Top Secret! as a sign that they blew it, and that they made a too-digressive, too-whimsical movie parodying too-obscure source material. But they’re protesting way too much. This film’s their most light and playful work (even with the pre-PG-13-era references to butt plugs and enormous cocks). The ZAZ-ers string together gently surreal sight-gags that play up the artificially of cinema: using a giant phone prop to create a forced perspective; figuring out a way to make a station pull away from a train rather than vice versa; and so on. (Top Secret!’s Pac-Man joke, meanwhile, is pretty pointless… albeit funny.)

    The movie’s greatest visual effect, though, is Kilmer himself, who always looks great, whether he’s bringing an audience to their feet with one of his song-and-dance routines or having an underwater bar-brawl. His Nick Rivers isn’t the traditional sullen, tortured spy. Instead, he’s both graceful and joyous. In the age of Rambo and Top Gun (another Kilmer vehicle), Top Secret! was a different kind of patriotic entertainment, one that celebrated an American hero for his skill, panache, and derring-do, rather than his brute muscle or shameless sneakiness. It’s cloak-and-dagger by way of Looney Tunes.


  163. 10 Actors Who Haven’t Given A Good Movie Performance In Over A Decade:

    Val Kilmer

    Ah, Val Kilmer. It’s seems an aeon away since he gave us his last truly good performance in Shane Black’s underrated, brilliant Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005). Playing Dt. Gay Perry (really), Kilmer looked set to potentially reinvigorate his career after his first decade-long disappearance into the seedy underbelly of films-for-cash, turning in his first good performance since Heat in ’95. (I haven’t got the space here but look at his IMDB and check out his roles in that ten year period).

    But nope, History, as we’ve been taught, repeated itself once more, and Kilmer’s filmography since Gay Perry reads something like this (and this is just a selection): Played (2006); Summer Love (2006); The Ten Commandments: The Musical [playing Moses] (2006); Have Dreams, Will Travel (2007); 2:22 (2008); The Steam Experiment (2009); Deep In The Heart (2012) and Riddle (2013).

    That list makes it hard to believe that Val Kilmer once gave us a perfect performance as Doors front-man Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone’s The Doors (1991), or that he’s capable of nice little turns in things like Werner Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant (made in 2009 but among enough absolute garbage that it isn’t going to spare his appearance on this list, cheating or not), but this is the Val Kilmer we have now and we’re just gonna have to deal with it and hope for another Gay Perry somewhere down the line.