Val Edward Kilmer (born December 31, 1959) 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! (1984), then the cult classic Real Genius (1985), as well as blockbuster action films, including a role in Top Gun and a lead role in Willow.
During the 1990s, Kilmer gained critical respect after a string of films that were also commercially successful, including his roles as Jim Morrison in The Doors, Doc Holliday in 1993's Tombstone, and Batman in 1995's Batman Forever. During the early 2000s, Kilmer appeared in several well-received roles, including The Salton Sea, Spartan, and acclaimed supporting performances in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Alexander, and he is set to star in the new series of Knight Rider as the voice of KITT.
Kilmer, who was raised a Christian Scientist, 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.
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, despite receiving mixed reviews. 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. 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 & 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.
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.
In July 1994, Michael Keaton decided not to return for a third Batman film after 1992's Batman Returns, due to "creative differences." 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. 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). 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. Kilmer went on to do The Saint with a salary of $6 million (triple the amount of his contract for Batman Forever). 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?"
Batman co-creator Bob Kane said he felt Kilmer was the best actor to portray Batman (although Kane did not live to see Christian Bale in the role.)
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 mixed 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 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. 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 Deja Vu. In 2007, he guest-starred in hit TV series Numb3rs episode "Trust Metric" as torture expert Mason Lancer.
He is set to appear as the main antagonist "Mongoose" in a live TV series adaptation of the comic/video game of XIII in 2009.
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. They have 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 released a CD in the fall of 2007, proceeds of which went 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 have 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, quote, "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."
Kilmer owns a huge ranch in New Mexico where he hunts, hikes, fishes, and raises buffalo. Kilmer is also involved with The Wildlife Center of New Mexico and assists in rescuing animals and releasing them on his ranch.
He is rumored to be considering a run for Governor of New MexicoSteve Hickner |- |rowspan=2| 1999 || At First Sight || Virgil 'Virg' Adamson || || Irwin Winkler |- | Joe the King || Bob Henry || || Frank Whaley |- |rowspan=2| 2000 || Pollock || Willem DeKooning || || Ed Harris |- | Red Planet || Robby Gallagher || || Antony Hoffman |- |rowspan=2| 2002 || The Salton Sea || Danny Parker/ Tom Van Allen || Limited release || D. J. Caruso |- | Hard Cash || FBI Agent Mark C. Cornell || || Predrag Antonijevic |- |rowspan=4| 2003 || Wonderland || John Holmes || || James Cox |- | The Missing || Lt. Jim Ducharme || || Ron Howard |- | Blind Horizon || Frank Kavanaugh || || Michael Haussman |- | Masked and Anonymous || Animal Wrangler || || Larry Charles |- |rowspan=5| 2004 || Entourage || The Sherpa || Episode: The Script and the Sherpa ||Adam Bernstein |- | Spartan || Robert Scott || || David Mamet |- | Stateside || Staff Sergeant Skeer || || Reverge Anselmo |- | Alexander || Philip || || Oliver Stone |- | George and the Dragon || El Cabillo || uncredited || Tom Reeve |- |rowspan=2| 2005 || Mindhunters || Jake Harris || || Renny Harlin |- | Kiss Kiss Bang Bang || Gay Perry || || Shane Black |- |rowspan=6| 2006 || Summer Love || The Wanted Man || || Piotr Uklanski |- | Moscow Zero || Andrey || || María Lidón |- | 10th & Wolf || Murtha || || Robert Moresco |- | Played || Dillon || || Sean Stanek |- | Déjà Vu || Agent Andrew Pryzwarra || || Tony Scott |- | The Ten Commandments: The Musical || Moses || || Robert Iscove |- |rowspan=2| 2007 || Have Dreams, Will Travel || Henderson || || Brad Isaacs |- | Numb3rs || Mason Lancer || Episode: Trust Metric || Tony Scott |- |rowspan=9| 2008 || Comanche Moon || Inish Scull || TV mini-series based on the book || Simon Wincer |- | Knight Rider || voice of KITT (replaced Will Arnett) || based on 1980s NBC series Knight Rider || Steve Shill |- | Conspiracy || MacPherson || direct-to-video || Adam Marcus |- | Columbus Day || John || || Charles Burmeister |- | Felon || John Smith || || Ric Roman Waugh |- | Delgo || Bogardus (voice) || awaiting release || Marc F. Adler |- | || Maz || awaiting release || Phillip Guzman |- | American Cowslip || Todd Inglebrink || post-production || Mark David |- | XIII || Mongoose || post-production; Based on Belgian comic book XIII || Duane Clark |- |rowspan=4| 2009 || Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans || TBA || post-production || Werner Herzog |- | Streets of Blood || TBA || post-production || Charles Winkler |- | The Thaw || Dr. David Kruipen || post-production || Mark A. Lewis |- | The Steam Experiment || Jimmy || filming || Philippe Martinez |}