Val Kilmer's Comeback To The Screen Follows Tough Battle For His Health After He Awoke To "Scene Out Of The Godfather"

Jun 15, 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.

After a hiatus in the mid-late 2010s when he battled cancer, Val made a comeback to his movie-star roots. After being cancer-free for a few years, he was busy with a number of releases including a memoir that he published in 2020 titled "I'm Your Huckleberry: A Memoir." The following year in 2021 he released a documentary about his life to great acclaim. Titled "Val," the film featured never-before-seen archive footage that Val filmed himself. Then in 2022, he reprised his role as Iceman in "Top Gun: Maverick," which also featured Tom Cruise. Fans praised the film, as well as Val's role in it, which meant the world to him. 

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. In fact, one of his ex-girlfriends, who he's still close with, was even there to help him through his 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."

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

Val Kilmer (2013), (Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic/Getty Images)

Val has stayed busy ever since his comeback in 2020 when he released his memoir. For his 2021 documentary "Val," 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 detailed 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.

Following his memoir and documentary releases, Val reprised 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." He added:

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

Jack spoke with People about his father's return to the iconic movie series. He said, "They honor the legacy of Iceman, and he was so stoked by it." He added:

"(My sister) Mercedes and I went down to San Diego to that big naval base for the shoot with Tom Cruise and everyone. And there were hundreds of extras of real pilots coming up to us and telling us that the first Top Gun inspired them to join the Navy and the Air Force. It was one of the proudest moments of being American that you could think of really." 

Jack Kilmer, Mercedes Kilmer (2021), (Stephane Cardinale-Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Mercedes also spoke to People about how much being in the film meant to her father and how "extraordinary" it was to be on set that day. She said:

"It means a lot to my dad as he's very proud of that film. This is what he loves to do ... It was trippy and very special for my dad to be on set with all of his friends who made this movie when they were my age."

Producer Jerry Bruckheimer told People about how "thrilled" Val was to be included in the new movie. He said:

"We called Val and told him we wanted to meet him to be in the picture. And he was thrilled ... Tom (Cruise) said he wasn't going to make the movie without him. So the fact that he was able to do it and he worked with us on the script, to have him there and be a part of it was a really emotional day when we filmed him. Because you want to see those two on the screen again, Iceman and Maverick going at it. And that's what movie making and audiences love."

He talked about capturing their characters' "36-year friendship" on camera and how critical it was to the film's plot. Meanwhile, Cruise also revealed to Entertainment Tonight that for the first "Top Gun" he "really rallied hard for (Val) to make the movie." He then spoke about their scene together in "Top Gun: Maverick":

"The kind of talent that he has, and you see that scene, it's very special, it's just very special."

Both critics and fans on social media had nothing but praise for Val and the rest of the crew involved with the movie, and some even said it's better than the original movie. That's no small feat and only proves Val's Hollywood comeback was a true success story.

Val Kilmer (2019), (Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)

Are you a fan of Val Kilmer? What do you think about his big Hollywood comeback and the "Top Gun" franchise? Let us know your thoughts and pass this on so those you know can read about it too!

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