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Val Kilmer (1959)

Val Edward Kilmer

Type :  

  Summary  

Val Edward Kilmer is an American actor. Originally a stage actor, Kilmer became popular in the mid-1980s after a string of appearances in comedy films, starting with Top Secret! , then the cult classic Real Genius , as well as blockbuster action films, including a supporting role in Top Gun and a lead role in Willow.

During the 1990s, Kilmer gained critical respect after a series of films that were also commercially successful, including his roles as Jim Morrison in The Doors, Doc Holliday in 1993's Tombstone, Batman in 1995's Batman Forever, Chris Shiherlis in 1995's Heat, Col. John Henry Patterson in 1996's The Ghost and the Darkness, Simon Templar in 1997's The Saint and Moses in 1998's The Prince of Egypt. During the early 2000s, Kilmer appeared in several well-received roles, including The Salton Sea, Spartan, and supporting performances in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and as the voice of KITT in Knight Rider.

  Biography  

 early life
Kilmer was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Gladys and Eugene Kilmer, an aerospace equipment distributor and real estate developer. Kilmer's grandfather was a gold miner in New Mexico; the poet Joyce Kilmer is a distant cousin of Kilmer's. Kilmer is of German, Swedish, Irish, and Cherokee descent. He grew up in the San Fernando Valley with his two siblings, older brother Mark and younger brother Wesley . Kilmer, who was raised a Christian Scientist, attended Chatsworth High School—where his classmates included Kevin Spacey and Mare Winningham—as well as Hollywood's Professional's School. He also attended Berkeley Hall School, a Christian Science school in Los Angeles, from nursery school until graduation from the 9th grade. At the age of 17, he was at the time the youngest person to be accepted into Juilliard's drama program. He was in Group 10 of the Drama Division.

 career
 1980s
In 1981, Kilmer co-authored and starred in the play How It All Began, 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. That same year, his first off-stage acting role came in the form of a television short titled One Too Many, which was an educational drama on drinking and driving; 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 released an album under the film character's name, "Nick Rivers".

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, before being cast as naval aviator "Iceman" in the action film Top Gun, alongside Tom Cruise. Top Gun grossed a total of $344,700,000 worldwide. 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 in TNT's Billy the Kid.

 1990s
After several delays, director Oliver Stone finally started production on the film The Doors, based on the band of the same name. Kilmer 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. Stone was not impressed with the tape, but Paul Rothchild said "I was shaken by it" and suggested they record Kilmer in the studio. After Kilmer was cast as Morrison, he prepared for the role by attending Doors tribute concerts and reading Morrison's poetry. 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 members of The Doors noted that Kilmer did such a convincing job that they had trouble distinguishing his voice from Morrison's. Paul Rothchild played Val's version of 'The End' for Robby Krieger, and he told him "I'm really glad they got 'The End'. We never got a recording of that live with Jim and now we've got it." However, Doors keyboardist, Ray Manzarek, was less than enthusiastic with 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 is credited as one of Kilmer's finest performances. 1995 saw Kilmer star in Wings of Courage, a 3D IMAX film, and that same year, he starred opposite Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in Heat, which is now considered one of the best crime/drama films of the 1990s. In 1996, he appeared in a largely unknown film, Dead Girl, and starred alongside Marlon Brando in the poorly received The Island of Dr Moreau. That year, Kilmer starred alongside Michael Douglas in the thriller The Ghost and 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 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.

During the 1990s, Kilmer developed the reputation of being very difficult on sets. John Frankenheimer, director of The Island of Dr Moreau, is quoted as saying, There are two things I would never do again 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. While promoting The Ghost and the Darkness in France, Michael Douglas bitterly complained about Kilmer's attitude in an interview to daily newspaper Le Parisien. 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."

Batman
In December 1993, Batman Forever director Joel Schumacher had seen Tombstone and was most impressed with Kilmer's performance as Doc Holliday. Schumacher felt him to be perfect for the role of the Caped Crusader, though at the time, the role was still Michael Keaton's. Batman creator Bob Kane said he felt Kilmer was the best actor to portray Batman.

In July 1994, Michael Keaton decided not to return for a third Batman film after 1992's Batman Returns, due to "creative differences." William Baldwin was reported to be a top contender, though just days after Keaton dropped out, Kilmer was cast. Kilmer took the role without even knowing who the new director was and without reading the script.

Released in June 1995, Batman Forever was a success at the box office, despite receiving mixed reviews from critics. There was debate about the performance of Val Kilmer; some critics charged that Kilmer, while physically fit to play Batman, more so than his predecessor Michael Keaton had been, gave a wooden performance as Bruce Wayne. Other critics though, such as Roger Ebert, had kind words for Kilmer. Batman creator Bob Kane said in a Cinescape interview that of all the actors to have played Batman up to that point , he felt Kilmer had given the best interpretation. Film critic Leonard Maltin complimented Kilmer's portrayal when he reviewed the film for his expanding collection of film reviews, as well as being very favorable of the film as a whole. Defenders of Batman Forever praised the film for portraying Batman as a more heroic, less ruthless, and more human character than in the Tim Burton films. The film also brought the film interpretation of Bruce Wayne more into line with his comic book counterpart, showing him as a seasoned celebrity of the media and a very public figure rather than the neurotic recluse of the previous films.

In February 1996, Kilmer decided not to return for another Batman feature film, feeling that Batman was being marginalized in favor of the villains. Kilmer went on to do The Saint with a salary of $6 million. George Clooney replaced Kilmer as Batman in 1997's Batman & Robin.

 2000s

Kilmer's first role in 2000 was in the big budget Warner Bros. box office disaster Red Planet. That same year, he had a supporting role in the film Pollock and hosted Saturday Night Live for the first time. In 2002, he starred in the thriller The Salton Sea, which was generally well-reviewed, but received only a limited release. 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. 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. Kilmer next appeared in the big budget Oliver Stone production, Alexander, which received poor reviews. 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. The production played at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood and also featured Adam Lambert. Kilmer had previously played Moses in the animated film The Prince of Egypt. Finally in 2004, Kilmer appeared in an episode of Entourage, where he played a Sherpa whose primary source of income was the growing, harvesting and distributing high-quality marijuana, all under a guise of metaphysical insights.


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. Kilmer performed in The Postman Always Rings Twice on the London stage from June to September 2005. In 2005, he co-starred with Robert Downey, Jr. in the action-comedy film Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. His performance was praised and the film was well reviewed, but the film received only a limited release. 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 Déjà Vu. The song "Val Kilmer" was named after him on Bowling for Soup's 2006 album The Great Burrito Extortion Case,. The song was later used for one of the Ford commercials on season 10 of American Idol in 2011. In 2007, he guest-starred in hit TV series Numb3rs episode "Trust Metric" as torture expert Mason Lancer.

In 2008, Kilmer starred alongside Stephen Dorff in the Sony and Stage 6 film Felon. The film was given only a limited theatrical release in New York and Los Angeles in 2008, but it developed into a success secondary to positive word of mouth.

Kilmer was the voice of the car KITT for the 2008 Knight Rider TV pilot film and the following television series. He replaced Will Arnett, who had to step down from the role due to contractual conflict with General Motors. In keeping with tradition established by the original Knight Rider series and original KITT actor William Daniels, Kilmer was uncredited for the role on-screen.

He next starred alongside Nicolas Cage in the Werner Herzog film Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, and alongside Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson in Streets of Blood. Both were released in 2009. He appeared as the main antagonist "Mongoose" in a live TV series adaptation of the comic/video game of XIII on NBC in 2009.

 2010s
In 2010, Kilmer starred in the horror film from Michael Oblowitz, The Traveler, where he played the vengeful spirit of a man who had been tortured and murdered while in police custody.

In November 2010, Kilmer was filming in Kelseyville, California; he is the lead role in the Francis Ford Coppola film Twixt. The film is being filmed mostly on Coppola's estate in Napa County. The filming is expected to take five weeks and is being independently funded by Coppola.

In 2010, Val Kilmer appeared as the villain Dieter Von Cunth in MacGruber.

Mark Twain/Mary Baker Eddy project
Since 2010, Kilmer has been working on a film about the life of Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science church, and Mark Twain, one of her most famous critics. Kilmer wrote the screenplay, describing the film about the lives and relationship of Mary Baker Eddy and Mark Twain as "a quirky, tender, tragicomic portrait of two contrasting lives, set against the backdrop of Gilded Age America."

 personal life
Kilmer was married to actress Joanne Whalley from March 1988 to February 1996. The two met while working together on the film Willow. The couple had two children: a daughter, Mercedes , and a son, Jack . He dated supermodel Cindy Crawford in the 1990s.

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 released a CD in the fall of 2007, proceeds of which went to his charity interests.

Other actors have noted that he prepares for his roles extensively and meticulously. Irwin Winkler talked about his decision to hire Kilmer. "I'd heard the stories, so I checked him out. I called Bob DeNiro and Michael Mann, who'd worked with him on Heat, and they both gave him raves... I had a wonderful experience in spite of all the naysayers." Jeffrey Katzenberg talks about the actor. "Val was one of the first people cast in The Prince of Egypt. He was there every step of the way; patient, understanding, and phenomenally generous with his time."

Following their appearance together in Top Gun, Kilmer and co-star Tom Cruise reportedly had taken their onscreen conflict offscreen. Reports classified the two as holding a vitriolic hatred of one another. Kilmer even refused to participate in a charity beach volleyball game with Cruise on the grounds that he was "dangerous", although Kilmer is noted to have knocked Cruise out in a fistfight during the filming of Top Gun.

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

In 2009, Kilmer listed Pecos River Ranch for sale for $33,000,000 with conservation real estate firm [http://www.orviscw.com/Orvis/Cushman&Wakefield]. The price was subsequently dropped to $23 million in October 2010 and dropped again to $18.5 million two months later.

He briefly flirted with running for Governor of New Mexico in 2010, but in the end declined to run.
He made a donation to Ralph Nader's 2008 presidential campaign. On January 30, 2009, Kilmer was chosen to be the King of Bacchus, a parading Krewe in New Orleans, that in 1969 began the tradition of having celebrities ride in their parade as King.

In November 2010, the Internal Revenue Service filed a $498,165 lien against Kilmer's New Mexico ranch for unpaid 2008 income taxes. In April 2010, Kilmer paid $538,000 to settle another dispute with the IRS.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Val Kilmer", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.