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Val Kilmer Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (5) | Trivia (76) | Personal Quotes (46) | Salary (5)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 31 December 1959Los Angeles, California, USA
Birth NameVal Edward Kilmer
Height 5' 11½" (1.82 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Val Kilmer was born in Los Angeles, to Gladys (Ekstadt) and Eugene Kilmer, a real estate developer and aerospace equipment distributor. Val studied at Hollywood's Professional's School and, in his teens, entered Juilliard's drama program. His professional acting career began on stage, and he still participates in theater; he played Hamlet at the 1988 Colorado Shakespeare Festival. His film debut was in the 1984 spoof Top Secret! (1984), wherein he starred as blond rock idol Nick Rivers. He was in a number of films throughout the 1980s, including the 1986 smash Top Gun (1986). Despite his obvious talent and range, it wasn't until his astonishingly believable performance as Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone's The Doors (1991) that the world sat up and took notice. Kilmer again put his good baritone to use in the movie, performing all of the concert pieces. Since then, he has played two more American legends, Elvis Presley in True Romance (1993) and Doc Holliday in Tombstone (1993). In July 1994, it was announced that Kilmer would be taking over the role of Batman/Bruce Wayne from Michael Keaton.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Denise P. Meyer < dpm1@cornell.edu>

Spouse (1)

Joanne Whalley (28 February 1988 - 1 February 1996) (divorced) (2 children)

Trade Mark (5)

In many of his movies, he twirls small objects (coins, pencils, etc.) with his fingers.
He rubs the first two fingers of his right hand together. Particularly in tense scenes, but also where he is not speaking.
Known for his meticulous detail and precision when preparing characters. This is often to the chagrin of the actors and filmmakers he is working with.
Pretty-boy looks
Deep resonant voice

Trivia (76)

Attended Chatsworth High School with Kevin Spacey and Mare Winningham.
Ranked #62 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list. [October 1997]
Co-authored play "How It All Began," performed at the New York Shakespeare Festival, Public Theatre, in 1981.
Was at the time the youngest student ever accepted into Juilliard's drama department. His record has been supplanted by Juilliard student Seth Numrich, who was admitted at 15 in 2002.
Val Kilmer and Marlon Brando infuriated director John Frankenheimer on the set of The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996). Frankenheimer later vowed to never work with Kilmer again.
While being let out of the metal cage during the filming of the crossroads scene in Willow (1988), the rope holding the cage up broke and the cage landed on Kilmer's foot, nearly breaking it. Later on in the film, Kilmer (who played swordsman Madmartigan) can be spotted having difficulty walking.
Met first wife, British actress Joanne Whalley, when they filmed the 1988 fantasy Willow (1988).They had two children: Mercedes (born 1991) and Jack (born 1995).
Is the fifth actor to play Batman.
Did his own singing while playing Jim Morrison in The Doors (1991). The real members of the band said they had difficulty distinguishing Kilmer's voice from that of Morrison's.
Turned down a role in The Outsiders (1983) because he was working with a theater company at the time, and if he had pulled out, the show would have been cancelled and his fellow actors out of a job.
Got the role of Chris Shiherlis in Heat (1995) after Keanu Reeves, who was originally cast as Chris, backed out.
Contrary to popular belief, he enjoyed playing "Batman" despite his poor working relationship with Joel Schumacher during the production of Batman Forever (1995).
During the sled riding scene in Willow (1988), he can be seen wearing a black glove on his left hand.
Is the only blonde actor to have played Bruce Wayne/Batman.
Oliver Stone once considered him for the role of Alexander the Great in his long-delayed Alexander (2004) project. Kilmer plays the father of Alexander, King Philip, opposite Colin Farrell in the Alexander role instead.
Did not want to appear in Top Gun (1986) but was forced to do so because of contractual obligations.
Appeared in Tombstone (1993) opposite Charlton Heston. Five years later, he succeeded Heston in the roles of both Moses and God in The Prince of Egypt (1998).
Does a variation on his trademark of twirling objects in Willow (1988): he twirls a sword during the fight in the snow camp.
Has played two legendary rock and roll musicians: Jim Morrison and Elvis Presley.
He was 4' 11" when he entered high school. He acknowledged this on Late Night with Conan O'Brien (1993).
Admits in interviews that he is a horrible cook.
After his first film, Top Secret! (1984), he went off and backpacked around Europe.
Enjoys scuba diving and traveling.
Filmed his part as Elvis Presley in True Romance (1993) in 1 day.
Good friends with actor Frank Whaley and musician David Crosby.
Has lived in New Mexico since 1983.
His father, Eugene, died in 1993.
His first auditions were for commercials at 13 years old.
His parents divorced when he was 9 years old.
In 1995, Kilmer learned he was getting a divorce while watching CNN in a hotel room. "It was no fun," he has said.
In the past he used to send taped auditions to filmmakers, figuring they would be much better (and less pressure) than live auditions.
Loves buffalo (and owns several on his ranch in New Mexico).
Stated in 1999 that At First Sight (1999) was his most challenging role to date.
Turned down Patrick Swayze's role in Dirty Dancing (1987) because he didn't want to be perceived as a "hunk."
Turned down roles in movies such as: Dune (1984), Blue Velvet (1986), Flatliners (1990), Captain America (1990), Backdraft (1991), Sliver (1993), Point Break (1991), In the Line of Fire (1993), Indecent Proposal (1993), Crimson Tide (1995), Batman & Robin (1997), The Insider (1999), Bandits (2001), a cameo in Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002), Collateral (2004) and Dark Matter (2007).
Visited Iraq briefly in April 1998 with AmeriCares, delivering supplies such as food, medicine and baby food.
He was in the Kalahari Desert in Africa researching a story he was writing about witch doctors when he was offered the Batman Forever (1995) Batman role.
Wrote poetry for actress Michelle Pfeiffer.
Broke his arm while filming The Doors (1991) when he performed a jump from the stage into the crowd and the stuntman failed to catch him. The injury has left Kilmer with an abnormal growth on his left elbow that can clearly be seen many times in Heat (1995).
Was originally set to play the lead role in The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996) but asked to switch roles because of his divorce.
Keith Campbell has doubled for him in many films. His most recent double has been Chuck Borden.
Warwick Davis, Kilmer's co-star in Willow (1988), says in his audio commentary that the question he is most frequently asked is: "What was is it like to work with Val Kilmer?" Davis says he has very fond memories of working with Kilmer, stating that Kilmer had a great sense of humor and was very dedicated to the job.
While the movie The Missing (2003) was being shot about one hour from his New Mexico ranch, he called up his old friend Ron Howard [writer/director] and asked for a part. Ron gladly accepted and gave him a part which only took 3 days to film. Kilmer's scene is close to 13 minutes long, not counting the DVD's deleted scene.
He and Elvis Presley, whom Kilmer portrayed in True Romance (1993), were/are both said to have Cherokee ancestry.
Shares two roles with Peter Dobson. In True Romance (1993), Kilmer plays Elvis Presley, a role Dobson played in Forrest Gump (1994). Kilmer also plays Chris Shiherlis in Heat (1995), which was a remake of L.A. Takedown (1989), in which Dobson played the role.
Was originally cast as Johnny Mnemonic in Johnny Mnemonic (1995) but left the project when he was offered the role of Batman in Batman Forever (1995). He was replaced by Keanu Reeves, whom Kilmer later replaced as Chris Shiherlis in Heat (1995).
Grew up in the San Fernando Valley the middle son of three boys (Mark the eldest; Wesley the youngest). During his high school years, Wesley drowned in the family's swimming pool, an incident Val claims inspired his subsequent performance in The Salton Sea (2002).
His work with the New Mexico Film Investment Program fueled a nearly 40-fold growth in the state's annual production revenue, from $3 million in 2002 to $117 million in 2006.
Kilmer was eventually succeeded in the role of "Batman" by Christian Bale after George Clooney vacated the role. In The Prince of Egypt (1998), Kilmer provides the voice of "God", while Bale played "Jesus" in Mary, Mother of Jesus (1999).
Born to Eugene Kilmer and his wife, Gladys Ekstadt.
Val's father was of English, as well as Welsh, Northern Irish (Scots-Irish), French Huguenot, and German, ancestry. Val's mother was of Swedish ancestry.
Second cousin of journalist and poet Joyce Kilmer.
His paternal grandfather was a gold miner in New Mexico.
He and his old friend Kevin Spacey have both played iconic characters from DC Comics. Kilmer played Batman in Batman Forever (1995), and Spacey played Lex Luthor in Superman Returns (2006).
Was considered for the role of Captain America/Steve Rogers in the failed 1990 film adaptation of the character. Captain America later fought Batman, whom Kilmer played, in the 1996 DC vs. Marvel storyline.
Was succeeded as Batman by George Clooney.
To date (2007), he has appeared in one Tony Scott film per decade, for three decades. First was Top Gun (1986) in 1986, then True Romance (1993) in 1993, and then Deja Vu (2006) in 2006.
Actor Girard Swan has worked as his double on past films.
Volunteered to work with AmeriCares in 1998.
While promoting The Prince of Egypt (1998), he visited 6 countries in 5 days, stopping in Amsterdam, Rome, Madrid, Berlin, Paris and Zurich.
Younger brother of Mark and older brother of Wesley.
Attended high school with Mare Winningham and stated in his biography that "he was in love with her, cause she was old enough to drive and he wasn't".
Father, with Joanne Whalley, of daughter Mercedes Kilmer (born October 29, 1991) and son Jack Kilmer (born June 6, 1995).
Told Interview magazine during a 1991 conversation to promote The Doors (1991) that as a child, his family had employed a veteran of the Vietnam War, ongoing at the time, as a full-time babysitter. When the man found work elsewhere, the Kilmer family lost touch with him. Through Interview magazine they made an appeal for the Vietnam vet to reconnect with them.
Is a longtime board member of the New Mexico State Film Commission, which tries to persuade Los Angeles - based filmmakers and studios to film on location in New Mexico.
During the filming of Streets of Blood (2009), 50 Cent became good friends with Val Kilmer. The two actors bonded over their love of vintage cars and 50 Cent stunned Kilmer by giving him the keys of a 1965 Chevy Impala which the singer-turned-actor purchased for $100,000.
One of his favourite directors was Tony Scott. The two worked together on three films, Top Gun (1986), True Romance (1993) and Deja Vu (2006).
Made a personal appearance at the Big Apple Comic Book & Sci-Fi Expo in New York City. This was a two day fund raising event for several non-profit organizations as Kilmer donated all proceeds. [November 2007]
Playing in a production of David Mamet's "The Postman Always Rings Twice" in London. [July 2005]
Filming alongside Denzel Washington, Paula Patton and Jim Caviezel in Tony Scott's Deja Vu (2007), on location in New Orleans. [June 2006]
While on break from the set of his latest film, he joined former ambassador 'Joseph Wilson', 'Jonathan Richards', former CIA undercover agent Valerie Plame Wilson, 'Mary-Charlotte Domandi', Jane Fonda and Ali MacGraw in reading pieces from the new Eve Ensler book about ending violence against women and girls worldwide. Ticket-sale proceeds from this exclusive event went to various non-profit projects around the world. [June 2007]
Filming alongside Will Forte and Ryan Phillippe for Universal Picture's MacGruber (2010). [August 2009]
While on break from the set of _Streets of Blood (2009)_ with 'Curtis Jackson', he joined Cuba Gooding Jr. in supporting the First Star Celebration for Children's Rights. [June 2008]
While promoting _Comanche Moon (2009)_ and awaiting production of his latest film to start; joined Rosario Dawson, Jessica Alba, Katie Holmes, Gina Gershon and 'Kerry Washington' in supporting V-Day and the global effort to end violence against women and girls. Ticket-sale proceeds from this event went to fund several non-profit non-violent humanitarian missions around the world. [January 2008]
Made a personal appearance for the 2007 Orchard Beach Classic Car, Truck, and Motorcycle Show in New York. This was a one day non-profit fund raising event to raise money for the families of police officers who were killed in the September 11th terrorist attack. [September 2007]
Shares two roles with two fellow Batmans. He and Adam West have both played Doc Holliday. He and Christian Bale have both played Moses, in The Prince of Egypt (1998) and Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014).

Personal Quotes (46)

Upon playing Batman: "I've done an absurdly commercial cartoon and now I'm more likely to get hired for a job I couldn't get hired for before, because I hadn't done enough movies. It's so rare when an actor gets hired because he's right for the role - it just doesn't figure into it."
The only time it's ever like work is when you don't like what you've done.
"I was going to movies and watching TV, going to the theater a little bit. It was, like, 'Wow, you could make a living doing this? Great! What could be better?' There isn't anything I could choose better." - On why he initially choose acting as a career while still a young man.
Being successful doesn't change things. There's a painful, lonely part of acting because you're always waiting. The thing about being a performer is doing, and when you have to wait, it's the same pain as when you're starting out and have no job. You think that thing will go away, but it doesn't. It just shifts. I remember Robert Duvall saying that being a successful actor is all about finding interesting hobbies, because if you don't have the right hobby, you die. It's very hard to maintain interest. Most actors don't. They become a little clichéd. You learn how to do tricks and stuff.
It's always been the same for me. I've always enjoyed acting, and I really love good actors; they're such unique characters. I wish I could tell stories well, or tell a joke. Any time someone can do that it's so satisfying. Sean Penn, for instance, is a really good actor, and he can tell a good joke or story. But it's hard to do. Most actors have special talents that make them attractive, but they're often odd characters.
He was basically a nerd, and he really had wonderful qualities. I've never really played a hustler before, but he was absolutely a world-class hustler. A liar lies and a thief steals from you, but a hustler gives you something that you don't mind parting with your money for. You're entertained by the meal or the sex or the impression that something is going to happen. You're given a sense of well-being, and he was good at it. - On his character John Holmes for the movie Wonderland (2003).
I think John Holmes is one of the first twenty or fifty people that fulfilled Andy Warhol's prophecy that one day everyone would be famous for fifteen minutes. People who had nothing to do with pornography, or had any interest in it, knew who John Holmes was. And somehow it was famous, at least in LA, that Canoga Park was the pornography center of the planet. I still don't know why, but I knew that as a kid.
"I'm very lucky in that I haven't cultivated fame. Which, from what I've seen of my contemporaries, takes an enormous amount of time. I have a lot of respect for people that do it and they're successful at it ... Especially people that aren't such talented actors." - Quote from 2001.
Interesting characters are troubled characters. The only problem I've had in my business is very few people - unfortunately, very vocal - confusing the difficult role that I play with me. I play these guys, but I'm not like them. I've been accused of being difficult to work with. But that's like saying the football player's out of breath 'cause when he comes off the field having caught a hundred-yard pass he shouldn't be out of breath. He's not out of shape; he just went and did his job.
I've done a lot of jobs that were just for money or were just the best things around at the time.
Being called Jim made it easier for Oliver [Oliver Stone] and probably for me. In the end that approach was healthy because I don't believe you've got to go out and shoot dope to play Jim Morrison. - On if the rumors were true about Kilmer insisting being called Jim Morrison while filming The Doors (1991).
Acting is not a science. Anybody who believes that their success exists in relation to their goals is deluding themselves; unless you think of a career in terms of financial goals. I have nothing against Tom Cruise, but he must have a large capacity to deal with the business side of movies.
There are only three reasons to do a movie: the cast, the director, the role. Like I say, you live in a minute of screen time, but to prepare for the minute takes much more than a day. You'd better be excited about what those moments are, even if they're the hardest moments. Or the smallest.
"It's the most fulfilling thing I can do and get paid for." - On theatre.
I feel safer in Johannesburg than in L.A. Violence comes out of the blue here. I've had friends who have been carjacked, all kinds of things. Successful felons, criminals love L.A. It's so big, there's so many freeways to get on after you do your score. Because of its possibilities, L.A.'s the most sorrowful city in the world.
I was given a copy of that script because at one point I was involved with Dune (1984). It would have been my first job for damn near a year. So, Dave (Lynch) gave me the script and it was straight-out, hard-core pornography before page 30. I never finished it. I said, 'Good luck, but I can't do this.' It isn't what he ended up making. THAT movie, I WOULD have done. - On why he turned down David Lynch's Blue Velvet (1986).
It may or may not sound pretentious. But I've turned down, consciously and specifically, many jobs I knew would have been a pretty surefire way to go about making a lot of money, being recognized and gaining power in the industry.
"Nothing's ever guaranteed. It's all math, like, 'This guy has better numbers, so give the job to him.' If the business people think they can make money with you, it's not, like, a deep conversation that they have about you. Actors can get into a rhythm of working where the confidence [about them] is like the stock market. Someone 'feels' good, so they pay whatever, which gives other studios confidence, like 'Those guys have good taste, they hired him,' so whether he or she is any good, you can do four or five jobs like that until you're discovered. This town is filled with mystery careers -- people who aren't discovered found out, and they keep giving money to them." - On having a successful acting career.
"Every day was such a trial. It was a unique kind of hell. All the audience knows is the end result - and that's as it should be, but the experience of making it is quite different." - On filming Tombstone (1993).
I'd be in a bad western on a good horse any day of the week. It's such a fantastic genre of film.
Poetry is a very subjective and intimate expression. It's literally your heartbeat. Your rhythm. The song of your soul. It's superconcentrated. It's a dense piece of yourself.
"Parts. Little people are very funny. They already know that life is weird. So that part was fun. My co-star, I ended up marrying - that was fun. We went to New Zealand and we went to Wales. All the traveling was fun but wearing the pink dress wasn't fun." - On if filming Willow (1988) was fun.
"It looked like it might not work out with Michael Keaton, so they asked Joel Schumacher, 'Who do you want for Batman?' When he said me, I asked my agent, 'Why? Who did they not get?' I'd met with Joel a couple of times before about other [movies]. I didn't know anything in terms of the cast, story or anything, but I said, 'Sure, sounds like fun.'" - On accepting his role as Batman.
I think spiritual perception comes from natural and healthy relationship to the land and I've had that. I get an easy, automatic sense of myself in nature, a wholeness and I feel nowhere else. I think people should live where praying is most immediate. That's why I live in New Mexico. The physical terrain, the feeling, the environment and culture improve my life just by waking up there.
"When I figured out that to have money you had to work, I knew I couldn't hack a regular job. So I thought acting would be good, because basically you made your own hours, were ridiculously overpaid and got the girls. Don't laugh! That was the truth!" - On how he first came about considered acting as a career.
Doing my first movie, I realized I could get into real bad habits. If you're the star, all you have to do is show up, and 20 people say, 'Do you want anything? What is it? Let me get it for you.' Believe me, you get spoiled very quickly. I saw some of my contemporaries allow themselves to have that fame, thinking they could handle it. It messed them up.
"I liked being Doc Holliday. It's fun to be insightful and aristocratic, to stand up for your friend and make sacrifices for him. It was fun to be arrogant like he was and have the goods to back it up. He was a very noble character. Although, let's not forget, he did kill a lot of people." - On Tombstone (1993).
"It made me consider time differently, because my year ends when the year ends. I blame my birth date for being hung up about time."- On his New Year's Eve birthday.
It's probably fair to say I have taken myself too seriously on some jobs. I'm sure I'm more guilty of being difficult than I'd like to remember. I don't regret my desires; I've regretted the way I would communicate my desires. Maybe I've lost a job because of some rumor, I doubt it. But nobody good that I've worked with has ever said anything negative about me, because we've never had a negative experience. By good, I mean directors who do their homework, people that are passionate, crazy, never sleep, and do like I do and just go after it.
"When they decide they want to expand their repertoire of facial expressions, say, play a character part, or do a period piece, it's often their fate, tragically, that they fail. Few actors have learned about acting by doing successful movies. Tom Cruise has, and Tom Hanks." - On mainstream box-office actors.
"For my audition, I did a monologue from one of my plays. I couldn't find anything contemporary that they wouldn't have seen hundreds of times before. I didn't know what I was doing, but it worked." - On his Juilliard audition.
"I guess I'm one of the new generation of actors who have as little to do with the machinery of Hollywood as possible. We're colonizing whole chunks of cowboy territory; I never liked LA when I was growing up there as a kid, and I don't like it now. I've got my visits to that city down to a science: I make some people get up early, other stay up late -- and I can be in and out in a day." - 1992 quote.
I listened to a lot of records. I smoked quite a few cigarettes and that - the smoking - stayed with me unfortunately! And I copied his voice in much the same way as I would learn an accent. With a lot of work, I got it. I found Jim's voice. Whenever people see me singing, it's really me singing. It's live. Oliver [Oliver Stone] was counting a lot on the spontaneity and the authenticity, especially in the concert scenes. Everything was prerecorded just in case but I ended up performing it all live. It is all a thing of imagination and one can have the tendency to underestimate it. Physically, I enjoyed myself a lot when I had to gain weight to incarnate Jim Morrison at the end of his life. When he is in a stupor, intoxicated by alcohol and drugs, he resembles Karl Marx. The make-up artists took Polaroids and showed them to the Doors guitarist and to Alain Ronay to get their approval. They were amazed by the resemblance and that helped me a lot. - On becoming Jim Morrison for The Doors (1991).
My only challenge is to entertain. And I accomplish my task better when I myself am entertained by what I am doing. I am very critical of myself, I constantly set the bar higher and higher. I try to surpass myself. That's all. But I also know how to preserve myself, to not let myself get bedazzled by the smoke and mirrors.
New Mexico is my home. It has never been anything but home. The ranch has rivers and canyon, everything imaginable. I can ride, hunt and fish. At the same time, ranching is grueling, difficult work. It's like acting, to be successful at it, you have to work hard. I take it very seriously.
The trick to being a good actor is getting so involved in your character that the camera disappears, the 50 bored guys eating doughnuts disappear, friends disappear. To get to that point when you don't have to think about it, you're just acting and reacting in those circumstances.
I probably complained more when I was younger. The movie industry can be frustrating but I think sometimes I could have been more helpful, approaching a film as a partnership rather than being critical of a director's ignorance. I wasn't sensitive to the fact that it's very hard to direct.
Big movies are fun and it's great to fly on private jets and make a lot of money and all the things that are connected with Hollywood, but they take a lot of your own life.
There are some directors I should have worked with. I'd like to have worked with Altman [Robert Altman] - I turned him down a couple of times when I was younger. My thing now is if it's a good director I'll never say no - I'm just gonna say yes from now on. (2004)
It hurts. I miss my kids. I miss my kids in so many ways that I can't explain.
I thought I was going to marry my last girlfriend, she was just so wonderful. Daryl Hannah, fantastic woman. We shared so many interests, and we really made each other laugh . . . she just fascinated me. But there's something fundamentally where we didn't . . . maybe almost like brother and sister, just so alike, that it couldn't . . . " - Brentwood Magazine, October 2003.
[Prior to his divorce from Joanne Whalley]: "It's great. Instead of going out to parties, I go home to my family."
I would do a bad western with a good horse any day of the week.
(On his youthful drug experimentation) If marijuana was supposed to make you mellow, I would be like, "The cops, the cops, the cops . . ." I was what you call the buzz kill.
(2011) I don't believe in death. I think it's just a state of mind. The physicists now are starting to catch up with artists or the witch doctor, the healer, because now they can prove mathematically that everything's just a point of view.
(2011) I think I shortchanged myself in terms of my acting career, because it's a very hard job to do well and there are many, many, many talented artists. And I didn't take advantage of those opportunities like most of my peers, where there's a real consistency. Once you achieve a certain level of fame, you can secure it with money and you can secure it with relationships, and I just lived in New Mexico for 25 years.

Salary (5)

Batman Forever (1995) $7,000,000
The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996) $6,000,000
The Saint (1997) $6,000,000
At First Sight (1999) $9,000,000
Blind Horizon (2003) $1,000,000

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