Val Edward Kilmer was born on December 31, 1959 in the San
Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles, California, the second of the
three sons of Eugene Kilmer and his wife. When Kilmer was nine years
old, his parents divorced, and his mother moved to Arizona. Kilmer
stayed behind in town of Chatsworth, California with his father.
Val attended Chatsworth High School where he wasn't
much better than an average student. Val managed to become accepted
to the Julliard School in New York, where he became the youngest
person ever accepted to the drama department. Sadly, Val's younger
brother, Wesley, drowned in 1977 on the day before Val left Chatsworth
for New York City
During his time at Juilliard, Val appeared as Orestes,
Macbeth, and Richard III, Greek tragedy and Shakespearean roles,
as well as Henry IV and As You Like It. In 1981, while still at
Juilliard, he starred in How It All Began, a play he co-authored.
In 1983 he appeared Off Broadway in The Slab Boys with Kevin Bacon
and Sean Penn. Val's other stage roles include: Hamlet, in Hamlet,
at the 1988 Colorado Shakespeare Festival, and the 1992 Jacobean
play about incest and murder 'Tis Pity She's a Whore performed at
Joseph Papp's Public Theater.
In 1984 he made his film debut in "Top Secret",
a parody espionage movies.
In the following year, Kilmer made his first foray
into television, as Eric in the ABC special One Too Many, a story
about teenage. Among the other made-for-television movies in which
he appeared were The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1986), The Man Who
Broke 1,000 Chains (1987), and Gore Vidal's "Billy the Kid"
Kilmer's next film role was that of the prankish student
physicist Chris Knight in Martha Coolidge's Real Genius (1985),
in which Knight and his roommate, both of whom are students at an
academy for the gifted, foil the plot of a professor who is trying
to use them to develop a deadly laser weapon for the CIA. . The
movie elicited widely varying reviews, as did Kilmer's performance.
Fortunately for Kilmer's career, his next film role
was that of fighter pilot Tom "Iceman" Kasanzky in Tony
Scott's slick box-office smash Top Gun (1986), which starred Tom
Cruise and Kelly McGillis.
Kilmer's next film, Ron Howard's fantasy-adventure
Willow (1988) provided the actor with the opportunity to meet his
future wife, the British actress Joanne Whalley, who also appeared
in the film. After marrying in March 1988, the couple costarred
in John Dahl's directorial debut, Kill Me Again (1989), a film noir
set in the Nevada desert.
Joanne and Val married in 1988 and celebrated the
birth of their daughter, Mercedes, in 1990
1989 Kilmer auditioned for the role of the self-destructive rock
star Jim Morrison, the legendary lead singer and lyricist of the
Doors, in Oliver Stone's proposed film biography sending the director
an unsolicited video of himself singing Doors songs that had been
recorded at different stages of Morrison's brief career. Upon seeing
Kilmer's video and hearing his baritone voice, Stone was hooked.
Once he had been given the role, Kilmer prepared for it by reading
a biography about Morrison, attending concerts by Doors tribute
bands, listening to the Door's music, and wearing Morrison's trademark
leather pants and reading his poetry. Kilmer learned 50 Doors songs,
15 of which he actually performed on-screen. All the live musical
numbers in the film were done by Kilmer except for five lines, including
Kilmer's next cinematic role was in the acclaimed
documentary filmmaker Michael Apted's Thunderheart (1992), Kilmer
who is part Cherokee, portrayed a part-Sioux FBI agent assigned
to investigate a murder on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota
in the 1970s. Inspired by real events surrounding the occupation
of Wounded Knee in 1973 by members of the American Indian Movement,
the film ranks as one of Kilmer's best.
1993 saw Kilmer appearing in three films. He supplied
the disembodied voice of Elvis Presley in True Romance, written
by Quentin Tarantino.
In Russell Mulcahy's The Real McCoy he Co-starred
with Kim Basinger and played a bank robber.
His most substantial role that year was that of the
consumptive gunslinger Doc Holliday in George P. Cosmatos's Tombstone,
starring Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp. Most critics faulted Tombstone
for being too long and uneven in tone. Sadly, Val's father died
during the filming of Tombstone.
Joel Schumacher noticed Kilmer's "dark edge"
and good looks in Tombstone and though he would be perfect to replace
Michael Keaton, the a Caped Crusader in Batman Forever. Batman Forever
raked in a record $53 million at the box office its opening weekend.
In 1995 Kilmer played Jean Mermoz, a daredevil pilot
and charismatic, French cultural icon in Jean-Jacques Annaud'' Wings
In June of 1995, Joanne gave birth to their second
child, Jack. Approximately six weeks after the joyous occasion,
the two separated,
then divorced eight months later.
In the autumn of that year, he portrayed Chris Shiherlis,
a safecracker, in Michael Mann's Heat, starring Robert DeNiro and
Also in '95, Val did an obscure independent film called
Dead Girl with a notable cast that included Famke Janssen, Amanda
Plummer and Teri Hatcher. Val plays the role of Dr. Dark, a reluctant
psychiatrist treating a rather troubled aspiring actor played by
Adam Coleman Howard (also the film's writer/director). The film
is a dark parody of the Hollywood machine and centers around a disturbing
story of necrophilia.
In 1996, Val played Montgomery in the H.G. Wells classic,
The Island Of Dr. Moreau. Val was quoted as saying, "I couldn't
resist the chance to be in a movie with Brando. It was a privileged
acting experience". Originally slated to play the lead role
of Douglas, Val opted instead to play Montgomery, Dr. Moreau's assistant.
The movie was not well received by the critics, and was, apparently,
a nightmare behind the scenes as well. Its first director, Richard
Stanley, was fired three days into production, Rob Morrow (who was
to play Douglas) quit, and the movie's second director, John Frankenheimer,
was left frustrated with his inherited and troubled production.
Later that same year, Val co-starred with Michael
Douglas in The Ghost And The Darkness. Set in 1898, the movie was
based on the true story of two lions in Africa that killed 130 people
over a nine month period.
In April of 1997, Val put on a multitude of disguises
in The Saint. The Saint allowed Val to co-create the wide array
of characters impersonated by gentleman-thief Simon Templar. The
chemistry between Val and his co-star, Elisabeth Shue, sizzled in
the film. Val, apparently, had some very good ideas for the movie.
The directors and producers were receptive to collaborating with
him. Working with makeup artists, Val invented 12 characters for
Simon Templar to impersonate. Eight of his creations made it into
the final film. The movie grossed $16.3 million its first weekend
out. To date, The Saint has grossed over $170 million world wide.
In January of 1998, Val began shooting MGM's romantic
drama At First Sight, the Irwin Winkler-helmed picture based on
an article by physician-author Oliver Sacks called To See And Not
See in his book An Anthropologist On Mars. In the movie Val portrays
Virgil, a man blind since early childhood, who is encouraged by
his fiancé (Mira Sorvino) to undergo an experimental and
dangerous operation to restore his sight. The surgery is a success,
but overwhelmed by his newly acquired sense, Virgil becomes depressed
and withdrawn and unable to integrate sight into his sensory repertoire.
Released in January of 1999 the movie received mixed reviews. Some
felt the chemistry between Val and Mira was lacking. Others blamed
the direction as feeling forced, slow-paced and predictable.
On April 19, 1998, Val and playwright Nicholas Ellenbogen
explored nature's delicate balance in TBS Superstation's Africa
Unbottled. Once again, Val demonstrated his love of Africa as the
narrator of this ecologically concerned documentary which explored
six different African countries to show how the residents have taken
a holistic and somewhat controversial approach to managed wildlife
mid-1998, Val finished filming the low-budget, independent film,
Joe the King, in which he portrayed the abusive, drunken father
of the title character, Joe, a 14-year old boy played by Noah Fleiss
In December of 1998 Val provided the voice of Moses
as well as the resonant, inspiring voice of God speaking to Moses
in Dreamworks' first animated feature, The Prince of Egypt,
Even though 1999 was short on feature film releases
for Val, he took a very small cameo role in a film called Three
Days, a raucous docudrama about the on-and-off-tour lives of rock
group, Jane's Addiction. He also took another bit part as artist
Willem de Kooning in Pollock, a biopic about the life and times
of breakthrough artist, Jackson Pollock.
November, 2000, marked the release of Val's first
science fiction film, Red Planet. Val took the lead and co-starred
with Carrie-Anne Moss, of Matrix fame and a supporting cast, which
included Tom Sizemore (who also worked with Val in Heat and True
Romance), Benjamin Bratt, Terence Stamp and Simon Baker. The film
tells the story of the first manned mission to Mars.
In the spring of 2001, Val went to Hungary to film
a movie originally entitled In God We Trust. The title was subsequently
changed to Hard Cash and has since premiered on the USA Television
Network as Run For The Money. The film also stars Christian Slater
and Darryl Hanna.
2002 saw the Val in The Salton Sea which tells the
story of a man who goes under cover to avenge the death of his wife.
Although the film was initially on limited release, Val won the
2003 Prism Award for Best Performance in a Theatrical Film.
In 2003 Val portrayed legendary porn star John Holmes,
who died of AIDS at the age of 43 in 1988,
in the true-crime drama Wonderland.
2003 also sees Kilmer in Masked and Anonymous, a film
allegedly written by and starring Bob Dylan. The film sees Val as
an animal wrangler with a cast including Penelope Cruz, Jessica
Lange, Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Angela Bassett, Mickey Rourke,
Ed Harris, and Christian Slater.
2004 will also see him as King Philip II of Macedonia
in Oliver Stone's epic movie "Alexander". Kilmer will
play the part of Alexander's father, played by Colin Farrell and
husband of Olympias, played by Angelina Jolie.
Val Kilmer presently resides in New Mexico. Val loves
animals and has horses, dogs, cats, chickens and 3 buffaloes at
his New Mexico ranch.
Masked and Anonymous (2003)
George and the Dragon (2003)
Run For The Money (2002)
The Salton Sea (2002)
Red Planet (2000)
At First Sight (1999)
Joe The King (1999)
The Prince of Egypt (1998)
The Saint (1997)
Dead Girl (1996)
The Ghost and The Darkness (1996)
Island of Dr. Moreau (1996)
Wings of Courage (1995)
Batman Forever (1995)
The Real McCoy (1993)
True Romance (1993)
The Doors (1991)
Gore Vidal's Billy the Kid (1989)
Kill Me Again (1989)
Man Who Broke 1,000 Chains (1987)
Top Gun (1986)
Murders in the Rue Morgue (1986)
Real Genius (1985)
Top Secret! (1984)
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