Val Kilmer

Val Kilmer Headshot

Actor

Birth Date: December 31, 1959

Age: 64 years old

Birth Place: Los Angeles, California

Spouses: Joanne Whalley

Val Kilmer first made himself known as the chief rival of Tom Cruise in the blockbuster "Top Gun" (1986) before delivering an uncanny performance of poet-singer Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone's "The Doors" (1991) and a mesmerizing turn as Doc Holliday in "Tombstone" (1993). Following a strong supporting turn in Michael Mann's epic crime drama, "Heat" (1995), he starred in "The Island of Dr. Moreau" (1996). Kilmer also starred in such movies as "The Ghost and the Darkness" (1996), "The Saint" (1997) and "At First Sight" (1999) before taking on the crime thriller "The Salton Sea" (2002). Kilmer had his strongest performance in years as a gay private detective opposite Robert Downey, Jr.'s dimwitted thief in the hilarious "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang" (2005), which led to a revitalization of his image as one of the most in-demand actors for both major Hollywood movies and independent films.

Born on Dec. 31, 1959 in Los Angeles, Kilmer was raised by his father, Eugene, an aerospace equipment distributor and real estate developer who made - and lost - a fortune developing a ranch once owned by Roy Rogers, and his mother, Gladys. After attending Chatsworth High School, where he was classmates with Mare Winningham and Kevin Spacey, and the Hollywood Professional School, Kilmer became the youngest student at the time to be allowed entrance into the famed Julliard School. While at Juilliard, he and his classmates wrote and performed "How It All Began," a play that was eventually produced at the New York Shakespeare Festival with Kilmer in the lead. Meanwhile, he landed parts in "Henry IV, Part I" at the NYSF and "As You Like It" for the Tyrone Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, MN. Kilmer soon made his Broadway debut opposite Sean Penn and Kevin Bacon in "The Slab Boys" (1983). The following year, he made his feature debut with a starring role in "Top Secret!" (1984), a spy parody and all-around Hollywood spoof from the goofy minds of David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker which later achieved a cult following.

Also at the time, Kilmer had a supporting role in "One Too Many" (ABC, 1985), a rather stark "ABC Afterschool Special" that cautioned teens against drunk driving. In the comedy "Real Genius" (1985), he played a brilliant science student at a fictional university who teams up with a freshman (Gabe Jarret) to stop a wayward physics professor (William Atherton) from experimenting on unsuspecting students. Graduating from teen comedies to big studio films, Kilmer kick-started his career by costarring opposite Tom Cruise in one of the biggest movies of any decade, "Top Gun" (1986), playing the cocky F-14 pilot and chief antagonist Tom "Iceman" Kazansky, who butts heads with an equally brash Navy pilot, Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (Cruise), over the coveted Top Gun award. Despite upstaging Cruise with the critics, Kilmer was left behind in the dust professionally, as the other actor rocketed to superstardom. Meanwhile, he stumbled with his next few projects while murmurings that he was a "difficult" actor began to arise. After publishing My Edens After Burns, a collection of poems that included fond remembrances of former companion Michelle Pfeiffer, Kilmer displayed a flair for fantasy heroics as the dwarf-friendly lead in Ron Howard's "Willow" (1988), a lavish but uninvolving fantasy from producer George Lucas that proved to be a commercial disappointment. While building his career throughout the decade, he also developed a reputation as something of a ladies man, dating a wide range of actress, including Cher - who was many years his senior - and Ellen Barkin.

Kilmer met his future wife Joanne Whalley on the set of "Willow," and following their marriage in February 1988, the pair co-starred together in "Kill Me Again" (1989), director Tom Dahl's post-modern noir about a seedy private detective (Kilmer) hired by a woman (Whalley) to fake her own death in order to escape mobsters from whom she had stolen money. Kilmer next earned considerable attention and plaudits for one of the best performances of the year when he carved out an uncanny portrait of tortured singer Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone's metaphysical, but often muddled biopic, "The Doors" (1991). In order to secure the part, Kilmer videotaped himself singing Door songs. Though Stone was initially unimpressed, former Doors producer Paul Rothchild was struck by Kilmer's ability to mimic Morrison's voice. Stone cast the actor in the pivotal role, which proved in retrospect to be a wise decision: without Kilmer's domineering performance, the film may have performed worse than it did, thanks to an uneven portrayal of the singer and weak supporting performances. Meanwhile, Kilmer's method acting demands - including that everyone call him Jim on set - later prompted Stone to acknowledge that the actor "is passionate about his work; with the wrong approach, you may see a side of him you don't like."

Kilmer enjoyed a critical hit as the star of Michael Apted's "Thunderheart" (1992), an engrossing crime drama in which he played a part-Sioux FBI agent who confronts his heritage while investigating a murder on an Oglala Sioux reservation. Part-Cherokee himself, Kilmer delivered a finely tuned performance noted for its subtle intensity. He put his film career back on commercial track with an acclaimed performance as the tubercular gunslinger, Doc Holliday, stealing the thunder from Kurt Russell's strong portrayal of Wyatt Earp in the surprise hit Western, "Tombstone" (1993). Even though it proved to be successful both at the box office and with critics, "Tombstone" was marred with onset difficulties, including the firing of original director, Kevin Jarre. Let go after a month of shooting, Jarre later remarked that "[t]here's a dark side to Val that I don't feel comfortable talking about." To back his claim, he relayed an anecdote to Entertainment Weekly about Kilmer taking a locust from an excited stand-in and eating it in front of him before saying, "As you know, I have a reputation for being difficult. But only with stupid people." Meanwhile, Kilmer lost his father in April 1993, which precipitated a falling-out with his own brother, leading to their estrangement from each other for many years thereafter.

After giving a quirky portrayal of Elvis, complete with a rendition of "Heartbreak Hotel," in the Quentin Tarantino-scripted "True Romance" (1993), Kilmer starred in "The Real McCoy" (1993), a crime thriller in which Kim Basinger played a burglar just released from prison and forced to pull one last heist to save her son. His on set troubles continued when news surfaced that he lost control during an argument with director Russell Mulcahy over changing his scenes, leading to him firing a prop gun at a car. Following a one-year absence from the screen, Kilmer had a banner 1995 when he was tapped by director Joel Schumacher to succeed the departing Michael Keaton as the Caped Crusader in "Batman Forever" (1995). Pitted against notorious scene stealers Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones as the Joker and Two-Face respectively, Kilmer brought more intensity and humor to arguably the best installment of the franchise, a blockbuster earning over $200 million worldwide. But again, stories about Kilmer's onset behavior emerged, with Schumacher refusing to mince his words when relaying details about a shoving match between the two: "He was rude and inappropriate. He was childish and impossible. I was forced to tell him that this would not be tolerated for one more second. Then we had two weeks where he did not speak to me - but it was bliss." The normally gentile Schumacher later told Premiere magazine, "Val is the most psychologically troubled human being I've ever worked with. The tools I used to work with him - tools of communication, of patience and understanding - were the tools I use on my five-year-old godson."

Both Warner Bros. and Schumacher were happy to see Kilmer leave the Batman franchise in favor of casting George Clooney for "Batman & Robin" (1997). But director Michael Mann, who cast Kilmer in a supporting role for his crime epic, "Heat" (1995), had nothing but praise for the actor. Mann was a lone voice of support from the directors encountering Kilmer in the mid-1990s; John Frankenheimer also had zero tolerance for the actor after taking over the disastrous sci-fi horror thriller "The Island of Dr. Moreau" (1996) from fired helmer Richard Stanley. Whenever Kilmer sought to contribute his ideas, Frankenheimer snapped and said, "I don't give a f*ck!" Kilmer also ran afoul of a cameraman, whom he burned with a cigarette while seemingly joking around. Of Kilmer, Frankenheimer was unrelenting in his assessment: "I don't like Val Kilmer. I don't like his work ethic, and I don't want to be associated with him ever again." But of himself, Kilmer said, "Often I have been accused of being difficult, when in fact it's a difficult character that I'm playing. (Hollywood) confuses the two. I work hard. I don't know anybody who's good at their job who doesn't get into trouble." Amidst the height of his reputation as a difficult actor, Kilmer was criticized for his performance in Stephen Hopkins' "The Ghost and the Darkness" (1996), which earned the actor a Razzie award nomination for Worst Supporting Actor.

As if things were not difficult enough, Kilmer split with long-time wife, Joanna Whalley, shortly after the birth of their son, Jack, in 1995. But he soon found himself in the arms of model Cindy Crawford, though that particular relationship failed to last very long. Meanwhile, his penchant for casually slipping into different voices and guises led him to choose the role of Simon Templar, "The Saint" (1997). Though hopes for establishing a franchise were high, the ridiculously implausible story doomed Leslie Charteris' debonair detective to inhabit yet another sub-par movie. By the time he voiced Moses in DreamWorks' debut animated feature "The Prince of Egypt" (1998), Kilmer was determined to bury his bad boy image. He played the doting dad to his two children for journalists and ditched Hollywood for Pecos, NM, where he enjoyed fly-fishing and other outdoor activities on his 6,000 acre ranch. Back on screen, he played a blind man romancing Mira Sorvino, whose life is upended when his vision is restored in the mawkish "At First Sight" (1999).

Following a brief, but memorable turn as artist Willem DeKooning in director-star Ed Harris' "Pollack" (2000), Kilmer made a career misstep when he starred as an astronaut on Mars in the seemingly commercial, but oxygen-deprived sci-fi vehicle, "Red Planet" (2000). He next starred in the meth-fueled neo-noir thriller "The Salton Sea" (2002), in which he played a crystal meth addict who tries to find his wife's murderer by working with a pair of undercover narcotics cops (Anthony Lapaglia and Doug Hutchison) while trying to save his abused neighbor (Deborah Kara Unger). After a few little seen turns in low-profile projects, Kilmer returned to the limelight with his convincing portrayal of 1970s porn king John Holmes for the true-life crime drama, "Wonderland" (2003), based on the porn actor's alleged involvement in the bloody drug-related murders on Los Angeles' Wonderland Avenue in 1981. He next received positive reviews as a maverick government agent trying to recover a politico's kidnapped daughter (Kristen Bell) in writer-director David Mamet's crime drama "Spartan" (2004). Kilmer then starred as Moses in a controversial stage version of "The Ten Commandments" (2004), a glossy musical that appeared to many as being a Hollywood parody. The musical was forced to cut back performances for retooling following scathing reviews.

Kilmer reunited with Oliver Stone to co-star in the director's epic drama, "Alexander" (2004), an ambitious, but ultimately failed look at the rise to power and eventual fall of conqueror Alexander the Great (Colin Farrell). Amidst the lavish excesses of Stone's production and the endless narration from Ptolemy (Anthony Hopkins), Kilmer delivered a convincing portrayal of Alexander's controlling father, King Philip II. Following a brief appearance as an FBI instructor in "Mindhunters" (2005), he was nothing short of brilliant as a homosexual private investigator partnered with none-too-bright petty thief (Robert Downey, Jr.) who is dragged into a murder investigation in "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang" (2005), written and directed by Shane Black. Undeniably, the comedic chemistry between Kilmer and fellow reformed bad boy Downey, Jr. was infectious both on screen and off. Following a supporting role in the period crime thriller "10th and Wolf" (2006), he took a supporting role as a government agent who has knowledge of why an ATF agent (Denzel Washington) suddenly has strange memories about the future regarding a cataclysmic explosion in "Déjà Vu" (2006).

Over the next few years, Kilmer kept something of a lower profile despite working steadily in small budget films and on television. Following an episode of "Numb3rs" (CBS, 2004-10), he was the voice of KITT in the re-imagining of "Knight Rider" (NBC, 2008), which started as a two-hour television movie and wound up being a short-lived series during the 2008-09 season. Kilmer next had roles in little seen features like the crime thriller "Conspiracy" (2008), the Western "Comanche Moon" (2008) and the prison drama "Felon" (2008). Continuing along with independent film, he co-starred opposite Nicolas Cage and Eva Mendes in "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans" (2009), Werner Herzog's remake of Abel Ferrera's crime drama, "Bad Lieutenant" (1992). After a supporting role in "American Cowslip" (2009), an offbeat black comedy about an agoraphobic heroin addict (Ronnie Gene Blevens), he played Dieter von Cunth, sworn enemy to distracted special ops agent, "MacGruber" (2010), played by Will Forte, based on his recurring sketch on "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ).

Credits

B'Twixt Now and Sunrise

Actor
Hall Baltimore
Movie
2023

Tom Cruise: Movie Maverick

Actor
Show
2022

Top Gun: MaverickStream

Actor
Adm. Tom "Iceman" Kazansky
Movie
2022
96%

The Birthday Cake

Actor
Uncle Angelo
Movie
2021

ValStream

Producer
Movie
2021
94%

ValStream

Self
Movie
2021
94%

A Soldier's Revenge

Actor
CJ
Movie
2020

Paydirt

Actor
Sheriff Tucker
Movie
2020

Jay and Silent Bob Reboot

Actor
Bluntman
Movie
2019

1st Born

Actor
Biden
Movie
2018

The SnowmanStream

Actor
Rafto
Movie
2017
7%

Song to Song

Actor
Duane
Movie
2017

The SuperStream

Actor
Walter
Movie
2017
40%

The Spoils of BabylonStream

Actor
U.S. Army General
Miniseries
2014
81%

Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn

Actor
Mark Twain
Movie
2014

Standing Up

Actor
Hofstadder
Movie
2013

Palo Alto

Actor
Movie
2013

Riddle

Actor
Sheriff Richards
Movie
2013

Planes

Voice
Bravo
Movie
2013

Larry King NowStream

Guest
Talk
2012

Wyatt Earp's Revenge

Actor
Wyatt Earp
Movie
2012

7 Below

Actor
McCormick
Movie
2012

Breathless

Actor
Dale
Movie
2012

The Fourth Dimension

Actor
Hector
Movie
2012

Life's Too Short

Actor
Himself
Show
2011

Kill the IrishmanStream

Actor
Joe Manditski
Movie
2011
62%

Blood OutStream

Actor
Arturo
Movie
2011

5 Days of War

Actor
Dutchman
Movie
2011

Twixt

Actor
Hall Baltimore
Movie
2011

Deep in the Heart

Actor
The Bearded Man
Movie
2011

ConanStream

Guest
Talk
2010

MacGruberStream

Actor
Dieter Von Cunth
Movie
2010
47%

Gun

Actor
Angel
Movie
2010

The Traveler

Actor
Mr. Nobody/Drifter
Movie
2010

Provinces of Night

Actor
Warren Bloodworth
Movie
2010

Late Night With Jimmy Fallon

Guest
Talk
2009

The Steam Experiment

Actor
Jimmy
Movie
2009

Streets of Blood

Actor
Det. Andy Deveraux
Movie
2009

American Cowslip

Actor
Todd Inglebrink
Movie
2009

The Thaw

Actor
Dr. Kruipen
Movie
2009

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New OrleansStream

Actor
Stevie Pruit
Movie
2009
86%

Hardwired

Actor
Virgil
Movie
2009

Fake Identity

Actor
Dr. Nicholas Pinter
Movie
2009

XIII

Actor
Show
2008

Knight Rider

Actor
Series
2008
5%

Knight Rider

Voice
K.I.T.T.
Movie
2008

Conspiracy

Actor
MacPherson
Movie
2008

Felon

Actor
John Smith
Movie
2008

Delgo

Voice
Bogardus
Movie
2008

Columbus Day

Actor
John Cologne
Movie
2008

American Meth

Narrator
Movie
2008

2:22

Actor
Maz
Movie
2008

Comanche Moon

Actor
Show
2007

Have Dreams, Will Travel

Actor
Henderson
Movie
2007

10th and WolfStream

Actor
Murtha
Movie
2006
19%

Déjà VuStream

Actor
Agent Pryzwarra
Movie
2006
56%

Played

Actor
Movie
2006

The Ten Commandments: The Musical

Actor
Moses
Movie
2006

Summer Love

Actor
The Wanted Man
Movie
2006

Moscow Zero

Actor
Andrey
Movie
2006

Robot ChickenStream

Guest Voice
Series
2005

NUMB3RSStream

Guest Star
Series
2005

The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson

Guest
Talk
2005

Trudell

Actor
Movie
2005

Champion

Self
Movie
2005

Kiss Kiss Bang BangStream

Actor
Gay Perry
Movie
2005
86%

EntourageStream

Guest Star
The Sherpa
Series
2004
65%

Tavis Smiley

Guest
Talk
2004

Lovci na ubojice, britansko

Actor
Movie
2004

MindhuntersStream

Actor
Jake Harris
Movie
2004
24%

Stateside

Actor
SDI Skeer
Movie
2004

SpartanStream

Actor
Scott
Movie
2004
65%

Alexander

Actor
Philip
Movie
2004

Blind Horizon

Actor
Actor
Movie
2004

The Seventh Man

Narrator
Show
2003

WonderlandStream

Actor
John Holmes
Movie
2003
34%

The MissingStream

Actor
Lt. Jim Ducharme
Movie
2003

Masked and Anonymous

Actor
Animal Wrangler
Movie
2003

Run for the Money

Actor
FBI Agent Mark C. Cornell
Movie
2002

The Salton Sea

Actor
Danny Parker/Tom Van Allen
Movie
2002

PollockStream

Actor
Willem de Kooning
Movie
2000
80%

Red Planet

Actor
Robby Gallagher
Movie
2000

The Daily Show With Jon StewartStream

Guest
Talk
1999

At First Sight

Actor
Virgil 'Virg' Adamson
Movie
1999

Joe the King

Actor
Bob Henry
Movie
1999

The Prince of EgyptStream

Voice
Moses, God
Movie
1998
79%

The SaintStream

Actor
Simon Templar
Movie
1997
30%

Access Hollywood

Guest
News
1996

Dead Girl

Actor
Dr. Dark
Movie
1996

The Island of Dr. MoreauStream

Actor
Montgomery
Movie
1996
22%

The Ghost and the DarknessStream

Actor
Col. John Henry Patterson
Movie
1996
50%

Batman ForeverStream

Actor
Bruce Wayne/Batman
Movie
1995
40%

HeatStream

Actor
Chris Shiherlis
Movie
1995
89%

Wings of Courage

Actor
Jean Mermoz
Movie
1995

Un Hombre Verdadero

Actor
Movie
1993

True RomanceStream

Actor
Mentor (Elvis)
Movie
1993
93%

The Real McCoy

Actor
J.T. Barker
Movie
1993

TombstoneStream

Actor
Doc Holliday
Movie
1993
72%

Thunderheart

Actor
Ray Levoi
Movie
1992

The DoorsStream

Actor
James Douglas 'Jim' Morrison
Movie
1991
56%

Billy the Kid

Actor
William Bonney
Movie
1989

Kill Me AgainStream

Actor
Jack Andrews
Movie
1989

Mort apparante

Actor
Movie
1989

WillowStream

Actor
Madmartigan
Movie
1988
53%

The Man Who Broke 1,000 Chains

Actor
Robert Eliot Burns/Eliot Roberts
Movie
1987

L'homme qui brisa ses chaînes

Actor
Movie
1987

Top GunStream

Actor
Lt. Tom "Iceman" Kazanski
Movie
1986
57%

The Murders in the Rue Morgue

Actor
Phillipe Huron
Movie
1986

Real GeniusStream

Actor
Chris Knight
Movie
1985
77%

Top Secret!Stream

Actor
Nick Rivers
Movie
1984
76%

Entertainment Tonight

Guest
News
1981

Good Morning America

Guest
News
1975

Saturday Night LiveStream

Guest Star
Series
1975

Saturday Night LiveStream

Host
Series
1975

News aboutVal Kilmer