Val Kilmer Continues His Hollywood Comeback But Laments Being 'Too Serious' Before His Health Battle

May 10, 2022 by apost team

Val Kilmer is one of Hollywood’s most recognizable leading men. From his turn as Lieutenant Tom “Iceman” Kazansky in the classic '80s film "Top Gun" and the fantasy film "Willow," to playing the Caped Crusader himself in 1995’s "Batman Forever," Val has had a long and varied career that's spanned decades.

Other notable roles of his include rock star Jim Morrison in "The Doors," as well as roles in "True Romance," "Tombstone," "Heat" and "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang." And while he's continued to work in Hollywood over the years, he hasn't been in the spotlight like he once used to be.

Sadly, after lying low for a period in the mid-2010s, it was revealed that the actor was battling throat cancer. Val initially denied reports that he was ill and tried to keep his personal life separate from his public life and career, but in 2017 he decided to reveal his diagnosis to the public. This was while he was already well into his treatment. Suffice to say, fans gave him their full support. 

While he battled the disease, Val underwent chemotherapy and two tracheotomies, which ultimately left him with a rasp in his voice and changed the way he spoke. But while his voice is no longer like it once was, Val is still acting and doing interviews and he's shown that he hasn't lost his sense of humor. 

These days, he's made quite the comeback after being cancer-free for the last few years. In 2020, he published "I'm Your Huckleberry: A Memoir," while in 2021 a documentary about his life was released to great acclaim. Titled "Val," the film featured never-before-seen archive footage that Val filmed himself. Meanwhile, in 2022, he also reprised his role as Iceman in "Top Gun: Maverick," which also features Tom Cruise. He also opened up about how he's changed since his cancer diagnosis.

Val Kilmer (1996), (Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

Val began acting by being accepted into the prestigious Juilliard School, where at the time he was the youngest person ever to be accepted. He got his start in the theater and at the same time he showed off his other creative talents by writing plays and publishing poetry. He broke through in Hollywood with the 1984 film "Top Secret!," which was followed by a lead role in "Real Genius" and soon after, "Top Gun." The rest, as they say, is history, and Val's filmography from the '80s through to the 2000s speaks for itself. 

Considering he was a real Hollywood heartthrob, it's no surprise to learn that Val had quite the bevy of famous girlfriends during his career, including Cher, Ellen Barkin, Cindy Crawford and Michelle Pfeiffer. When he was asked in 2020 what made him so appealing to these charismatic women, he had a very mature answer

"I'm committed. You have to be committed with a woman that's as dynamic and as committed to their work. As someone like Cindy Crawford, who was the number one model on the planet at the time."  

In fact, one of his ex-girlfriends, who he's still close with, was even there to help him through his recent battle with cancer. As reported by People, Val wrote in "I'm Your Huckleberry: A Memoir" about an incident that happened when he was at Cher's home:

"One night I suddenly awoke vomiting blood that covered the bed like a scene out of The Godfather. I prayed immediately, then called 911. Then alerted my hostess. Cher stepped in and stepped up."

Val Kilmer (2005), (Goffredo di Crollalanza/FilmMagic/Getty Images)

After being hospitalized for throat cancer in Jan. 2015 and undergoing multiple surgeries, Val underwent a two-year battle with the disease but he's slowly made his recovery. Now, he's been cancer-free for the last few years, which he told "Good Morning America" in a 2020 interview. However, he did reveal that he uses a feeding tube as he can no longer eat.

Despite having lost the ability to speak how he once did, the actor certainly hasn't lost his sense of humor. In the same interview with "GMA," after he was asked what he missed most about his old voice, he proclaimed: "That I had one! And that I didn't laugh like a pirate." That hasn't stopped Val from continuing to act and movie studios were even able to recreate his voice through AI technology by using archival audio of him speaking.  

As for what's next for the Hollywood icon? On top of releasing his memoir in 2020 and the documentary "Val" in 2021, the actor even embarked on working with his two children — Mercedes Kilmer and Jack Kilmer. Mercedes, 30, made her feature film debut alongside her father in 2020's "Paydirt," while Jack, 26, was the narrator of his father's self-titled documentary.

Since Val's voice was raspier than it once was after his battle with cancer, he enlisted his son to narrate his story in the documentary. The film details the highs and lows of the actor's personal life and was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2021 before it premiered on Amazon Prime in August that year. According to Entertainment Weekly, using Jack as the narrator helped provide the documentary with a "poignant and spot-on soundalike narrator," which helped viewers fully immerse themselves into the film. 

Val Kilmer (2019), (Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)

Working on the documentary was something that meant a lot to Jack, as he has continued to be inspired by his father's dedication and passion for work and life. Jack spoke to People about his father and said:

"He's a guy who wants to go out there and just be the best that he can be and he doesn't have time to think about how vulnerable he is because he's thinking about the next smash-box-office hit. He has crazy energy. He can't be stopped."

Following on from his memoir and documentary releases, Val has dropped even more projects. He's back in his iconic role of Iceman in the "Top Gun" sequel, "Top Gun: Maverick." The film had its world premiere in May 2022 ahead of a worldwide theatrical release. In the film, Val starred alongside Tom Cruise once again. He told "GMA," the experience "was absolutely moving." Without disclosing any plot details, he said:

"In between takes, Tom and I just laughed like we were in high school."  

A true artist, Val has also focused on creating artworks ever since his comeback. He launched Kamp Kilmer, which is described as "a destination where creative beings gather to express themselves in exciting and innovative ways while contributing to the evolution of the arts through technology and connectivity." Some of his own artworks and collaborative pieces are on display on the website. 

Although his journey through his health battle has not been an easy one, Val has come out of it a changed man. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, he lamented his old ways:

“I was too serious. I’d get upset when things like Oscars and recognition failed to come my way.”

Val is doing much better these days and that is very clear from his new lease on life. 

Val Kilmer (2019), (EuropaNewswire/Gado/Getty Images)

Are you a fan of Val Kilmer? Did you know about his battle with cancer? What do you think about his return to acting alongside his children? Pass this on to those you know so they can stay up to date too.

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