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Val Kilmer Actor

Val Kilmer, co-star of the "Mind Hunters" Movie!

A lovely and handsome leading man, Val Kilmer has been known as difficult to work with from a number of major directors. Trying valiantly to maintain a firm hold on his career, he has often turned down offers for big projects like Blue Velvet, Dirty Dancing, and Indecent Proposal for personal and artistic reasons. He began acting in high school with friend Kevin Spacey before going on to the Hollywood Professional School and eventually even Juilliard. He acted on the New York stage and in Shakespeare festivals before his film debut in 1984 as the rock idol Nick Rivers in the spy spoof Top Secret! Throughout the '80s, he played several hunky supporting roles, such as the older roommate in Real Genius and the cocky "Ice Man" in Top Gun. He had a leading role in Willow, where he met his wife, British actress Joanne Whalley; they both appeared in Kill Me Again a year later and had two children before splitting up in 1996. Kilmer's film breakthrough finally came in 1991, for his portrayal of rock icon Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone's The Doors. As the notorious rocker, Kilmer provided his own singing voice for some of the songs on the soundtrack. He went on to play other American icons in his next two films: gunslinger Doc Holliday in Tombstone and the spirit of Elvis in True Romance. Due to his persistent questioning and commenting, the actor didn't get along very well with directors during this time in his career, particularly with Michael Apted for Thunderheart and Joel Schumacher for Batman Forever. Openly refusing to repeat the Bruce Wayne role, Kilmer broke his Batman contract and secured his own star status by appearing with both Robert De Niro and Al Pacino for the crime thriller Heat. This time around, he met with a more accommodating (or at least more tolerant) director, Michael Mann. Working with another acting veteran, he co-starred with Michael Douglas for the hunting adventure The Ghost and the Darkness. Unfortunately, his next few films were disappointments, particularly The Saint and The Island of Dr. Moreau. He switched gears a few times with little success, turning to romantic drama in At First Sight and to science fiction in Red Planet, but neither seemed to fit his dramatic intensity. He was especially ill-suited for the role as the drunken dad in Joe the King. After lending his booming voice to the role of Moses in the animated film The Prince of Egypt, he returned to form in The Salton Sea as a tormented drug addict. In 2003, he lined up quite a few projects, including the crime thriller Mindhunters and the drama Blind Horizon. In the same year he earned a starring role as another aggressive American icon, the legendary adult film star John Holmes, for the biographical drama Wonderland.

Val Edward Kilmer was born on December 31, 1959, in Los Angeles, California, USA.

More fun stuff about Val Kilmer

Height 6' 0½" (1.84 m)

Spouse: Joanne Whalley (March 1988 - February 1996) (divorced) 2 children

Trade mark: 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 if often to the chagrin of the actors and filmmakers he's working with.

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]

Dated Cindy Crawford. [1996]

Co-authored play "How It All Began", performed at the New York Shakespeare Festival, Public Theatre, in 1981.

Shakespeare Festival, Public Theatre, in 1981.

Youngest student ever accepted into Juillard's Drama Dept.

Father of daughter Mercedes (1992) and son Jack (1995)

Graduated from Chatsworth High, CA [1977]

Wrote poetry for Michelle Pfeiffer

A Led Zeppelin fan.

Wanted to turn down Julliard but his classmate at Chatsworth High School, Kevin Spacey, convinced him to accept.

Val convinced fellow actor Kevin Spacey to attend Julliard, after Val had inspired him to become an actor in the first place.

So infuriated the late director John Frankenheimer on the set of The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996) that Frankenheimer vowed to never work with Kilmer again, and he never did.

While being let out of the metal cage during the filming of the crossroad's 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).

Is the fifth actor to play Batman.

Is part Cherokee Indian.

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.

Out of all the actors to have played Batman, creator Bob Kane thought he was the best.

Contrary to popular belief, he enjoyed playing Batman. In fact, he said he enjoyed playing the role so much that he was eager to reprise the role in Batman & Robin (1997), however he could not because he was already committed to doing The Saint (1997).

During the sled riding scene in Willow (1988), he can be seen wearing a black glove on his left hand.

He 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.

Has a reputation as being difficult to work with, evidenced in part by the The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996) director's promise never to work with him again.

He 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 the "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (1993).

Said that his daughter and her friends were very "blown away" when they saw him in the Batman costume for the first time.

Described the Madmartigan character from the 1988 fantasy Willow (1988) as being a "warrior on warrior skid row".

Admits in interviews that he is a horrible cook.

After filming his first film Top Secret! (1984), he went off and backpacked around Europe.

Enjoys scuba diving.

Enjoys traveling.

Filmed his part as Elvis Presley in True Romance (1993) in 1 day.

Friends with musician 'David Crosby (I)' .

Good friends with actor Frank Whaley.

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 use to send taped auditions to filmmakers, figuring it was much better (and have less pressure) then what he would have done in a live audition.

Is of Swedish, German, Mongolian, Scottish, Irish and Cherokee ancestry.

Loves buffalos and owns (or owned) a few on his ranch in New Mexico.

Loves candles.

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), Backdraft (1991), Sliver (1993), Point Break (1991), In the Line of Fire (1993) and Indecent Proposal (1993).

Visited Iraq briefly during the Gulf War 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 part of Batman.

Wrote poetry for actress Michelle Pfeiffer.

Val Kilmer's personal quotes:

Upon playing Batman: "I've done an absurdly commercial cartoon and now I'm more likely to 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 cliched. 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.

"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 (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 on being called Jim Morrison while filming The Doors.

"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. 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.

"It may or may not sound pretentious. But I've turned down, consciously and specifically, many jobs I knew would have been pretty surfire 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.

"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 travelling was fun but wearing the pink dress wasn't fun." - On if filming Willow 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.

"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 (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 wait 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 Alan Ronay to get their approval. They were amazed by the resemblance and that helped me a lot." - On becoming Jim Morrison for The Doors.

"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 (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."

At First Sight (1999) $9,000,000
Batman Forever (1995) $7,000,000

Liv Tyler and Val Kilmer to be Coin Locker Babies

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Liv Tyler, Val Kilmer, Asia Argento and Tanobu Asano are in negotiations to star in "Coin Locker Babies,", an adaptation of the Japanese novel by Ryu Murakami.

Production Weekly is reporting advert and music video director Michele Civetta will helm the surreal coming-of-age tale.

The adaptation has been written by Sean Lennon, son of John Lennon, along with Jordan Galland, Peter Kline and Civetta.

Abandoned at birth in adjacent train station lockers, two troubled boys spend their youth in an orphanage and with foster parents on a semi-deserted island before finally setting off for the city to find and destroy the women who first rejected them. Both are drawn to an area of freaks and hustlers called Toxitown. One becomes a bisexual rock singer, star of this exotic demimonde, while the other, a pole vaulter, seeks his revenge in the company of his girlfriend, Anemone, a model who has converted her condominium into a tropical swamp for her pet crocodile.

Together and apart, their journey from a hot metal box to a stunning, savage climax is a brutal funhouse ride through the eerie landscape of late-twentieth-century Japan.

Val Kilmer Proves He's Top Fun

Movie star Val Kilmer has always had the reputation of being an unfriendly odd bod. Until now.

The Top Gun actor came up trumps at The Ivy in London on Monday night - where he was dining with Quentin Tarantino and Kevin Spacey - when a stranger spoke to him at the men's urinals.

"This guy quoted Top Gun and said to him: 'You can be my wing man anytime,'" says our spy. "He was expecting Val to get arsey. But Val said: 'No man - you can be mine.'"

"They had a good laugh, and then the guy asked Val if he could greet him at the bar like he's an old friend, to wind his pal up. Val agreed.

"Minutes later, Val came to the bar and said: 'Dave, so good to see you. How you doing?' The guy's pal was stunned." So are we.

Val Kilmer goes out on a limb

Is Val Kilmer mad to think he can revive his career by playing John Holmes, the porn star with the legendary 13-inch body part? Well, it won't be the first bad decision he's made...

According tothe talk in Hollywood, no fewer than 19 leading men - Matt Damon and Willem Dafoe among them - turned down the chance to play the legendary porn star John Holmes in a new movie about his dark, late years called Wonderland. Naturally, Val Kilmer is made of sterner stuff than most (I mean, he actually chose to star in The Saint) but, for a while, he was of the same mind. 'I could see the headlines,' he says. 'It made me nervous.

'Being associated with someone else's body part is kind of weird. He wouldn't have been famous at all if he hadn't been so abnormal . But then, when I met his wife and girlfriend, and I found out that they were all friends, I thought: this story represents how dynamic love is, and how forgiving. He's trying to get his girl out of town. That's what it's about. He's just trying to save her. This demented, tragic, darkly beautiful attempt...'

There follows a momentary silence while we contemplate the body part in question, all 13 inches of it. In a 20-year career, Holmes, otherwise known as the porno private eye Johnny Wadd, made 2,000 hard-core films and had sex with 14,000 women. He died from an Aids-related illness in 1988. Along the way, however, he developed a coke habit so ravenous he was finally no longer able to perform (tricky to fornicate for the cameras when you are permanently locked in the lavatory). Penniless and desperate, he turned to crime, befriending a gang of drug dealers who operated out of a house on Wonderland Avenue in the Hollywood Hills. In 1981, four members of this gang were murdered by a rival dealer, apparently having been set up by Holmes. Wonderland is about the days leading up to these slayings (miraculously, Holmes was later acquitted of all involvement in them).

Wonderland is, I'm afraid, Boogie Nights without the boogie. In the US, it has already been condemned for being both sleazy and too sympathetic to Holmes. One reviewer likened it to 'a pile of human waste'. Another advised cinema-goers to take 'moist towels' with them, so grubby is its content. Kilmer, though, believes the critics are wrong.

'Hollywood is wonderful, but it does eat its young,' he says, a reference, perhaps, to the relative youth and inexperience of the movie's director, James Cox. 'The community doesn't have much respect for people growing, or changing their opinion. Holmes was a charming, charismatic, goofy young man who moved to Los Angeles and... got involved in a quadruple murder.' He smiles, possibly because he knows that this argument is going precisely nowhere. 'Look at the graph of his life; it plummets after the year he started doing cocaine. A couple of times, he levelled off and tried to do the right thing by his wife and girlfriend. He loved his wife and he was in love with his girlfriend. That intrigued me. But I'm not interested in pornography. I don't relate to it.'

I suspect that, deep down, Kilmer was hoping that Cox would make an edgy, cultish film and that this, combined with his own twitchy, actorly performance, would single-handedly revive his lacklustre career. As he is the first to admit, it is a while since he appeared in anything even approaching a blockbuster. 'No, I haven't done one of those big, commercial movies in a long time. There are films I'd like to do, but the world has changed. To get a film financed now, you have to have been in a hit movie in the last year. I had great representation when I was young, but I didn't listen. I wish I had. There are certain things that it's wise to do.' Such as? 'If you're in a hit movie, it's good to be in another hit movie straight away.' Kilmer is just a touch oblique in an interview situation, so let me translate. The subtext here is: if you're offered a second Batman movie, and the first one in which you appeared grossed $180m at the box office, don't turn your nose up and insist on doing a real stinker like The Saint instead.

We are in Junket Central, better known as the Dorchester Hotel. In the flesh, Kilmer has a permanently swollen-looking face, as though he has stepped straight out of a long, too-hot shower. Today, to add to the effect, he sports - for the benefit of the photographer, I hope - a light dusting of peach foundation and powder. The short hair is crispy with what stylists like to call 'product'. He is wearing a stripey shirt, a dark suit and, on his bare feet, a pair of soggy little leather numbers that look like ballet shoes. He frets about clothes, he says - especially when he is on a date (he is single, but has the major hots for Scarlett Johansson). But the good news is that he is more mellow than of old, and more garrulous. At times, his answers are positively labyrinthine. If I didn't know better, I'd say he is a mite embarrassed by the dastardly reputation that has stuck to him like so much hot tar.

In the mid-Nineties, not long after he had turned down the aforementioned sequel to Batman Forever, Kilmer suddenly became enemy number one in the eyes of the entertainment press. A gossip magazine, Buzz , cited him as one of the '12 scariest people in Hollywood'. Joel Schumacher, who directed Batman Forever, called him 'the most psychologically disturbed human being I have ever worked with'. The screenwriter Kevin Jarre said: 'There's a dark side to Val that I don't feel comfortable talking about.' The stories about his activities on set became increasingly preposterous. While making The Saint, he was said to have told the crew to avoid eye contact with him. When he played Jim Morrison in The Doors, he is supposed to have requested that the crew address him as 'Jim'. John Frankenheimer who directed him in The Island of Dr Moreau, is said to have shot the star's final scene and then shouted: 'Cut! Now get that bastard off my set!'

These days, Kilmer is unfazed by this stuff. 'It was horrible. I was getting divorced at the time [he was married to the British actor, Joanne Whalley, whom he met on the set of Willow and with whom he has two children].' He believes - I am not quite sure why - that some of his critics were out to try and influence his custody battle. Whatever. Their comments have been hard to shake off. 'Someone has just written a biography of me and that director [I think he means Schumacher] is right there, at the front of the book. I now use a lawyer. When they print stuff that isn't true, I go after them.' Does he think those who attacked him for being difficult were at all justified? 'I think part of my reputation has to do with the difficult roles I've played. Actors do tend to get identified with their characters. But also, I just wasn't into socialising with financiers. I wanted to do the work, to act, not to get involved with other stuff. Oliver Stone [the director of The Doors ] warned me about it. Now, I don't mind schmoozing so much - if that's what's needed.' He tells me that, thanks to his experiences with the press, he knows what it must be like to be a woman, 'always having to work harder than the men'.

And no, his behaviour did not have anything to do with being spoilt movie star. 'I never cared about the size of my trailer. I took a long time off after my first film, went to poor places. On set, you've got 50 people asking if you want a cup of coffee. You throw your shoes in a corner, someone puts them neatly together. It's corrupting. It's not abnormal for an actor to want to work with the same make-up artist - that's not demanding - but I don't think I was spoilt. I've lived in New Mexico [he lives in an adobe ranch just outside Santa Fe] for a long time. It's a poor community, where all that matters is your word. My children have absolutely no interest in my fame. They're very sophisticated, and they have a spiritual perspective on material things because we go to church.' Doesn't he get lonesome, out there in the wilderness? 'Sure. But I'd rather be eaten by animals than crackheads.'

Kilmer is 44 now, and there are gullies on his chewy face. But he will not, he insists, be taking himself off to the cosmetic surgeon any time soon. His future, he seems to believe, lies in character acting - roles where the odd line can only help his cause. Not that he gives two hoots for the Oscars; all the actors he admired as boy had a thorough-going disdain for such things (though he wonders whether the limp he affects in the forthcoming Greek epic, Alexander, might not be something of a crowd pleaser as far as the Academy goes). 'No one wins one who doesn't want one,' he says. 'But Brando knew better than to get into that kind of vanity. Actually, I never think about the way I look. I didn't really do any of those $20m ab movies. Even Batman was pretty camp.' I am longing to ask him why, if he is so uninterested in his appearance, he has gone all tangerine on me. But alas, there is no time for this. The publicist is at the door. As for Val, he has urgent business to attend to. 'I want to get hold of Kevin Spacey,' he says. Fear not. No schmoozing will be involved. Apparently, the man owes him money.

Val Kilmer: The Saint

Patrick Stoner: You got very involved in the creation of this character [of THE SAINT]. Was this because you thought THAT'S the way the character had to go or was it because you wanted an acting challenge?

Val Kilmer: Both. Phillip [Noyce, the director] said it IS character driven, so whatever ideas you have about anything are good. I suggested the disguises would be more than what we usually think of. Each disguise would be a whole character -- without laboring it. You would see Simon really enjoying people, making each of these characters an event. I hoped that if it was fun for me, it would also be fun to watch.

Stoner: So Simon [THE SAINT] is an actor?

Kilmer: He is. That's how con men or cat burglars survive. I know a few of them, and they will DIE if you find out they're pretending. There's a kind of energy that you get addicted to, of being undercover, of having your life on the line.

Stoner: Are more actors, at least those who have become stars, taking more charge of the roles they play?

Kilmer: Actors have earned more responsibilities lately. Before -- meaning before the '70s -- an actor rarely achieved a status that would allow him to direct. Now, there are a number of stars who direct or get involved in producing, and they make successful films because they are more aware of the variety of responsibilities where they can contribute.

Stoner: You're known for your strong opinions. Are you tempering yourself at all now?

Kilmer: Somewhat. I've learned that my words can be taken out of context. I've sometimes been so concerned about something that I've talked about it more and in more places than perhaps I should have. And, you know how people are always looking for something controversial. Sometimes, I am simply philosophizing about a subject, and a small snippet of that gets quoted. That has caused some problems, and that's not good for me, or the projects, or my career. So, I'm more careful, but I don't plan to stop giving my opinion and talking about things that of deep interest to me, like Africa and the value of that wonder-filled land. I just do it a bit more thoughtfully now.

Chasing Val Kilmer

T.O. cut-out caper – who's pasting star's mug all over College Street? Hollywood actor Val Kilmer is getting more face time these days than he arguably deserves, thanks to someone in Toronto who's clearly quite crafty with scissors and glue.

Photocopied cutouts of Kilmer's mug have been showing up in the last year or so on buildings, fences and garbage bins in the Queen West and College areas.

The ubiquitous images of a younger Kilmer have inspired others to add Batman masks – an ode to a former role – or simply scrawl his name or the word "void" across the faces.

Kilmer thinks the whole tagging caper is just bizarre.

"I'm as bewildered as the next tag subject," he said on the line on January 7 from Dublin, where he was promoting the European release of his latest film, Alexander.

"It could be my older brother tagging Toronto," he jokes. "I don't have any way of helping you out with this. Maybe I'll have to come and investigate myself."

The practice of tagging is an irritant for police and property owners. But the Kilmer mystery has pop art enthusiasts buzzing, and speculation about who's behind it is making headlines around the world.

It made the January 17 issue of People, which declared, "Bring me the head of Val Kilmer."

The story was splashed across the January 5 edition of Scotland's Daily Record under the headline "Val is left red-faced."

On the Internet, bloggers are sharing theories about the origins and meaning of the grassroots Kilmer campaign.

Some believe it's part of an underground movement to revive Kilmer's career or to win him back the Batman role. Another theory is that one of the actor's fans wanted to put up so many Kilmer cut-outs that he'd have to make a public statement denouncing the graffiti.

But the most elaborate explanation comes from a blogger calling himself Shufler. He claims the Kilmer faces are promoting a local band named the Val Kilmer Tagging Caper.

He writes, "The Val Kilmer Tagging Caper used to be known simply as Val Kilmer. The graffiti all over Toronto was really advertising for the band. After a while, their fans started getting into the act and writing 'Val Kilmer' wherever and whenever.

"It's rumoured that the name came about when a couple of police officers came to one of Val Kilmer's shows and demanded that the graffiti cease. Since the band members were no longer responsible for most of the tags, they denied having anything to do with it apart from sharing the same name. The police officers left in a huff, unsatisfied by not figuring out who did it."

Shufler claims he found the band's independent CD at HMV and discovered that its members are named after characters Kilmer's played in movies: Simon Templar (The Saint), Tom Kazanski (Top Gun) and Nick Rivers (Top Secret).

Problem is, the band and the CD cover Shufler posted online don't exist.

Another story making the rounds is that the actor himself suggested the tagging to a fan during a drunken conversation at the Toronto International Film Festival several years ago.

Kilmer's New York publicist, Christina Papadopoulos, denies her client has anything to do with it. "People shouldn't be damaging property and using his likeness to do it," she says.

Val Kilmer Talks About "The Salton Sea"

"The Salton Sea's" lead role required an actor who was able to portray a sense of humanity and vulnerability. Equally as important would be the actor's ability to pull the audience into his dark journey without creating a totally unsympathetic character.

"As the story unfolds, you find yourself feeling sympathy for a character that normally you wouldn't be very sympathetic towards. We needed someone with the acting chops who could pull that off," explains producer, Ken Aguado, adding, "This is a very dark role for an actor and it required someone who would throw himself entirely into the part. Val was our first choice."

After casting Kilmer and watching his performance, Aguado was elated. "Val completely submerged himself in the character. He is very dedicated and serious about his craft, and I think this is one of his best performances," said Aguado.

VAL KILMER (Danny/Tom)

You've described this film as a beautiful love story. Can you talk about that aspect of the film?
Well, it's a story of a man who just can't leave this moment in time when he loses his wife. In order to find out who the murderers are, he becomes - basically - another person and then he gets lost in that character, too. So it's like an onion. The movie is like an onion (laughing). It's really a dynamic story, though. It's hard to describe without sort of giving away parts of the plot that are fun to watch. I hope the critics aren't doing that. The ones I've read are not. They actually stopped me in New York and said, “Don't say that part!” That was nice.

What made you want to take on this role?
Really - everything about it. The story is fantastic and the character has a lot of depth. The cast is fantastic. I was really proud of it.

Was it hard to work in the desert and around the Salton Sea?
Yeah, it was a tough location but it was a good setting. We used to go down there a lot when we were kids because I was raised here, so I like the desert.





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