Who Is Val Kilmer?
Born in 1959 in Los Angeles, California, Val Kilmer made his film debut in the spy spoof Top Secret! in 1984. After a string of supporting parts, including "Ice Man" in Top Gun, Kilmer received his breakthrough role in 1991 as rock icon Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone's The Doors. After Batman Forever and a string of unmemorable films, he lent his voice to the animated film The Prince of Egypt and later starred in The Salton Sea.
Val Edward Kilmer was born on December 31, 1959, in Los Angeles, California. The son of an aerospace equipment distributor and real estate developer, Kilmer began acting in high school with friend Kevin Spacey. He later attended the Hollywood Professional School and the Juilliard School in New York City, where he was the youngest student to be accepted to the drama division.
'Top Gun,' 'The Doors'
After performing on stage in New York, in 1984, Val Kilmer made his film debut in the spy spoof Top Secret! After a string of supporting parts, including the roommate in Real Genius (1985) and "Iceman" in Top Gun (1986), he received his breakthrough role in 1991 as rock icon Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone's The Doors. The film allowed the actor to show off another talent, as his own singing voice was recorded for the soundtrack.
'Tombstone,' 'Batman Forever'
Kilmer followed this success by portraying other American legends in two of his next films: gunslinger Doc Holliday in Tombstone (1993) and the spirit of Elvis Presley in True Romance (1993). It was during this period in his career that Kilmer earned a reputation for being difficult to work with. The actor notably clashed with Michael Apted while working on Thunderheart (1992), and with Joel Schumacher during the filming of Batman Forever (1995).
'Heat,' 'The Ghost and the Darkness'
After refusing to repeat the Bruce Wayne role, Kilmer broke his Batman contract and signed on for the crime thriller Heat (1995), along with Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. In 1996, he co-starred with Michael Douglas in The Ghost and the Darkness.
'The Prince of Egypt,' 'The Salton Sea'
During the late 1990s, Kilmer delivered a string of less-than-successful performances, including in the films The Saint (1997), At First Sight (1999) and Joe the King (1999). After lending his booming voice to the role of Moses in the animated film The Prince of Egypt in 1998, he returned to form as a tormented drug addict in The Salton Sea (2002).
'Alexander,' 'Déjà Vu'
In 2004, Kilmer portrayed Philip II of Macedon in Alexander, appearing alongside Angelina Jolie and Colin Farrell, and he later played FBI agent Paul Pryzwarra in the 2006 film Déjà Vu, starring Denzel Washington. The actor went on to earn notable roles in Conspiracy (2008), Double Identity (2009) and The Traveler (2010), while voicing the supercar KITT in a reboot of the hit 1980s series Knight Rider.
Kilmer continued contributing to films across a range of genres, including the farcical comedy MacGruber (2010), the horror flick Twixt (2011) and the Disney animated feature Planes (2013). He also starred as Mark Twain in Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn (2014), before launching a one-man stage show about the famed writer and humorist.
'The Snowman,' 'Top Gun: Maverick'
Following a hiatus from the screen, Kilmer surfaced in the romantic drama Song to Song and the suspenseful The Snowman in 2017. The following year, it was announced that Kilmer would be reprising the role of Iceman alongside Tom Cruise's Maverick for the long-awaited sequel to Top Gun, scheduled for a 2020 release.
Kilmer married actress Joanne Whalley, whom he met on the set of Willow, in 1988. The couple divorced in 1996 and have two children, Mercedes and Jack.
In January 2015, it was reported that Kilmer had been hospitalized after having emergency surgery performed on his throat. In April 2017, he finally confirmed the longstanding rumors that he was battling throat cancer.
Late in the year, the actor opened up about how things had changed since his cancer diagnosis. "I was too serious," he told The Hollywood Reporter, recounting his days as an A-lister. "I'd get upset when things like Oscars and recognition failed to come my way."
Kilmer shared more details about his experiences as a cancer patient in his 2020 memoir, I'm Your Huckleberry, revealing that ex-girlfriend Cher had helped him get through some of his toughest times.
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