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Val Kilmer


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My one and only Batman.

Here's a clip from Top Gun:

Early life

Kilmer, the second of three sons, was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Gladys (née Ekstadt) and Eugene Kilmer, an aerospace equipment distributor and real estate developer.[2] Kilmer has Scottish, Irish, Sephardic Jewish, Cherokee Native American (from a paternal great-grandmother), Swedish, German and Mongolian ancestry.[3] Kilmer's paternal grandfather was a gold miner in New Mexico;[4] the poet Joyce Kilmer is a second cousin of Kilmer's.[5] Kilmer grew up in the San Fernando Valley with his two siblings, older brother Mark and younger brother Wesley, but says that even as a child growing up in California he did not like it there.[6] His brother Wesley died as a teenager due to to an untreated epileptic seizure in a swimming pool. Kilmer did not think Christian Science's healing was responsible for his brother's death as Wesley was alternated between medical treatments and Christian Science.[7]

Kilmer, who was raised a Christian Scientist,[8] attended Chatsworth High School, where he attended with Kevin Spacey, and Mare Winningham as well as Hollywood's Professional's School. He also attended Berkeley Hall School, a Christian Science school in Bel-Air from elementary school up until 9th grade. At the age of seventeen, he was at the time the youngest person to be accepted into Juilliard's drama program.[9][10]



In 1981, the 6-foot (1.8 m) tall Kilmer co-authored and starred in the play How It All Began,[11] which was performed at the Public Theatre at the New York Shakespeare Festival. Kilmer turned down a role in Francis Ford Coppola's 1983 film, The Outsiders, as he had prior theatre commitments.[12] That same year, his first off-stage acting role (excluding television commercials) came in the form of a television short titled One Too Many, which was an educational drama on drinking and driving;[13] it also starred a young Michelle Pfeiffer. His big break came when he received top billing in the spoof comedy Top Secret!, where he played an American rock and roll star. Kilmer sang all the songs in the film and actually released an album under the film character's name, "Nick Rivers".[14]

During a brief hiatus, he backpacked throughout Europe, before going on to play the lead character in the 1985 comedy Real Genius. He turned down roles in Dune and Blue Velvet,[15] before being cast as Naval Aviator "Iceman" in the big budget action film Top Gun, alongside Tom Cruise. Top Gun grossed a total of $344,700,000 worldwide.[16] Following roles in the television films The Murders in the Rue Morgue and The Man Who Broke 1,000 Chains, Kilmer played "Madmartigan" in the fantasy Willow; he met his future wife, co-star Joanne Whalley, on the film's set. Kilmer published a book of his poems, "My Edens After Burns," in 1987, and starred in the Colorado Shakespeare Festival production of Hamlet in 1988. In 1989, Kilmer played the lead in both Kill Me Again, again opposite Whalley, and the first for TNT's Billy the Kid.


After several delays, director Oliver Stone finally started production on the film, The Doors, based on the popular band of the same name. Kilmer allegedly memorized the lyrics to all of lead singer Jim Morrison's songs prior to his audition, and sent a video of himself performing some Doors songs to director Stone, which Oliver Stone actually claims was detrimental to his audition. After Kilmer was cast as Morrison, he prepared for the role by attending Doors tribute concerts and reading Morrison's poetry.[17] He spent close to a year before production dressing in Morrison-like clothes, and spent time at Morrison's old hangouts along the Sunset Strip. His portrayal of Morrison was praised and real members of The Doors noted that Kilmer did such a convincing job that they had trouble distinguishing his voice from Morrison's. However, Doors keyboardist, Ray Manzarek, did not share the same enthusiasm of how Morrison was portrayed by director Oliver Stone's interpretation. In the early 1990s, Kilmer starred in the mystery thriller Thunderheart, action comedy The Real McCoy and again teamed with Top Gun director Tony Scott to play Elvis in True Romance, which was written by Quentin Tarantino.

In 1993, Kilmer played Doc Holliday in the western Tombstone alongside Kurt Russell, in what some say is one of Kilmer's finest performances. 1995 saw Kilmer star in Wings of Courage, a 3D IMAX film, and in one of his biggest roles, playing Batman in the big budget Batman Forever, which also starred Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey and Nicole Kidman. The film was a success at the box office,[18] despite receiving mixed reviews.[19] That same year, Kilmer starred opposite Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in Heat, which is now considered one of the best crime/drama films of the 1990s.[20] In 1996, he appeared in a largely unknown film, Dead Girl, and starred alongside Marlon Brando in the poorly received[21] The Island of Dr Moreau. That year, Kilmer starred alongside Michael Douglas in the thriller The Ghost & the Darkness. The next year he played Simon Templar in the popular action film, The Saint. In 1998, he lent his voice to the animated film The Prince of Egypt, before starring in the independent film Joe the King (1999) and playing a blind man in the drama/romance At First Sight, which he described as of then, the hardest role he had ever had.[22]


In December 1993, Batman Forever director Joel Schumacher had seen Tombstone, and was most impressed with Kilmer's performance as Doc Holliday. Schumacher felt for him to be perfect for the role of the Caped Crusader, though at the time, the role was still Michael Keaton's.[23]

In July 1994, Michael Keaton decided not to return for a third Batman film after 1992's Batman Returns,[24] due to "creative differences."[23] Joel Schumacher supported Keaton's reason, saying "some people don't want to play superheroes the rest of their life. Even Sean Connery left James Bond." William Baldwin (who previously worked with Schumacher on Flatliners) was reported to be a top contender, though just days after Keaton dropped out, Kilmer was cast.[24] Kilmer took the role without even knowing who the new director was and without reading the script (possibly thinking Tim Burton was still set to direct).[23] Kilmer first learned that he was offered the role of Batman while he was literally in a bat cave in Africa, doing research for The Ghost and the Darkness (1996).

In February 1996, Kilmer decided not to return for a sequel (1997's Batman & Robin with George Clooney replacing Kilmer), feeling (much as Michael Keaton had when he vacated the role) that Batman was being marginalized in favor of the villains. [25] Kilmer went on to do The Saint with a salary of $6 million (triple the amount of his contract for Batman Forever). [25] When asked why he didn't return for a fourth installment, Kilmer said he liked the characterization of Simon Templar better than Bruce Wayne. Kilmer commented "Simon is a literary character who uses his wit, and not violence. Batman is a real screwed-up guy who has hustled an entire city, and now he's running around in a cape. What's it all about?" [26]

[edit] 2000s

Kilmer's first role in 2000 was in the big budget Warner Bros. box office failure[27] Red Planet. That same year, he had a supporting role in the film Pollock and hosted Saturday Night Live for the first time. During his SNL hosting, he spoofed his role from Top Gun in a skit titled "Iceman: The Later Years", in which he is now out of the Navy and in training with a civilian airliner, however he is unable to fathom that his airline co-pilots are not as gung-ho as his Navy comrades. Kilmer's skit was also a joke that many retired fighter pilots are only able to find work as airline pilots. In 2002, he starred in the thriller The Salton Sea, which was generally well-reviewed,[28] but received only a limited release.[29] The same year, he teamed with his True Romance co-star, Christian Slater, and the two starred in the low budget film, Hard Cash, also known as Run for the Money.

In 2003, Kilmer starred alongside Kate Bosworth in the drama/thriller Wonderland, as well as appearing in The Missing, where he again worked with Willow director Ron Howard. The next year, he starred in Spartan, where he played a United States government secret agent who is assigned the task of rescuing the kidnapped daughter of the President. He received Delta Force-like training in preparation for the role.[30] Subsequently, he had a role in the drama, Stateside, and starred in the thriller Mindhunters, which was filmed in 2003 but not released until 2005. He also appeared in the big budget Oliver Stone production, Alexander, which received mixed reviews.[31] Also in 2004, Kilmer returned to the theatre to play Moses in a Los Angeles musical production of The Ten Commandments: The Musical, produced by BCBG founder Max Azria.[32] The poorly received production played at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood. Kilmer had previously played Moses in the animated film The Prince of Egypt.

Kilmer was in negotiations with Richard Dutcher (a leading director of Mormon-related films) to play the lead role in a film entitled Prophet: The Story of Joseph Smith, although the project never materialized.[33] Kilmer performed in The Postman Always Rings Twice on the London stage from June to September of 2005.[34] In 2005, he starred in the action-comedy film Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. His performance was praised and the film was well reviewed,[35] but the film received only a limited release.[36] It later won the award as "Overlooked Film of the Year" from the Phoenix Film Critics Society. In 2006 he reunited with director Tony Scott a third time for a supporting role opposite Denzel Washington in the box-office hit Deja Vu. In 2007, he guest-starred in hit TV series Numb3rs episode "Trust Metric" as torture expert Mason Lancer.

He will also star in the Lewis and Clark film opposite Bill Pullman.

He was working on writing the movie about the life of Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science Monitor in 2005.[7]

He is the voice of KITT for the Knight Rider TV pilot movie which aired on February 17, 2008 on NBC.

[edit] Personal life

He dated supermodel Cindy Crawford in the 1990s. They had a big fight over her hat advertising in a bar whose owner Kilmer disliked. He admitted that he was being unreasonable while Cindy was very comfortable with advertising.[7]

Kilmer was married to Joanne Whalley, an actress and former lead singer of Cindy & the Saffrons, from March 1988 to February 1996. The two met while working together on the film Willow.[37] They shared two children, daughter Mercedes, born in 1991, and son Jack, born in 1995.

Warwick Davis, Kilmer's co-star from the 1988 fantasy Willow, in his audio commentary for the film described Kilmer as a very funny man and a hard working, dedicated actor. Kilmer is also an avid musician, and will be releasing a CD in the fall of 2007, proceeds of which will go to his charity interests.

Following their appearance together in Top Gun, Kilmer and co-star Tom Cruise reportedly have taken their on-screen conflict off-screen. Reports[38] have classified the two as holding a vitriolic hatred of one another, with Kilmer even refusing to participate in a charity beach volleyball game starring the movie's cast with Cruise on the grounds that he was "dangerous".

Other actors have also noted that he prepares for his roles extensively and meticulously, it is often done to the chagrin of cast and crew (although many have argued that this should be seen as a tremendous quality rather than a flaw). Kevin Jarre, the original director of Tombstone, said that Kilmer once told him, "I have a reputation for being difficult. But only with stupid people."[39]

Kilmer owns a huge ranch in New Mexico where he hunts, hikes, fishes, and raises buffalo.[7] Kilmer is also involved with The Wildlife Center of New Mexico and assists in rescuing animals and releasing them on his ranch.


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