Val Kilmer’s Story: Top Gun to Top Gun

Val Kilmer’s Story: Top Gun To Top Gun
Photo Credit: Kobal Collection – Shutterstock


Sixteen years ago, on New Year’s Eve, one of the best-known faces in Hollywood was born: Val Kilmer. Many of you might remember him from his role in the early 90s as music legend Jim Morrison (in The Doors, 1991), or his action roles in Batman Forever (1995) and Top Gun (1985).

Val was born on December 31, 1959, in San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, California. He started acting during high school years and later attended Hollywood Professional School. When Val was 17, he entered one of the world’s leading drama, music, and dance schools, called The Juilliard School. During those years, he started his career on stage.



His first stage appearance was in 1981, with How It All Began at The Public Theater in New York City. Val’s acting in a Broadway play called The Slab Boys in 1983 got noticed by directors of the movie Top Secret! (1984) who was looking for an actor in their action-comedy. He was eventually selected and starred in it as a rock & roll star performing six songs throughout the movie.

In 1985, Val Kilmer had his first lead role in the science-fiction comedy Real Genius, and in 1986 he appeared in the highest-grossing film of the year Top Gun, with Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis. It was a breakthrough role for Val and turned him into a big star. It was in his next movie Willow (1988) when he met his wife-to-be, Joanne Whalley. They got married in the same year and starred together once more in the action movie Kill Me Again in 1989.



The nineties were major days of success for Val Kilmer. From his critically acclaimed role as Jim Morrison in The Doors movie in 1991 to starring as Batman/Bruce Wayne in Batman Forever in 1995 and the successful action movie The Saint in 1997. In 1993 he played Elvis Presley in True Romance. A drama/mystery directed by Top Gun director Tony Scott based on a script by Quintin Tarantino.



Kilmer appeared in the western movie Tombstone (1993) and was nominated for MTV Movie Award for Best Actor. In the same year, he starred alongside Kim Basinger in The Real McCoy and in 1995 starred in Heat alongside Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. His daughter Mercedes and his son Jack were born in 1991 and 1995, respectively. Unfortunately, his marriage with Joanne Whalley came to an end in 1996.

Besides the aforementioned works, Kilmer also starred in movies like Thunderheart (1992), The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996), and The Ghost and the Darkness (1996). While most of his appearances were centered around action roles, he had a romantic movie with Mia Sorvino called At First Sight in 1999 and appeared in Dreamwork’s animation The Prince of Egypt as a voice actor.

In 2000s Val Kilmer starred in more than 30 movies in various roles, especially thrillers, starting with Red Planet alongside Carrie-Ann Moss, and ending with Hardwired in 2009. He won for a Prism Award for The Salton Sea (2002) and Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor for Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005). Tony Scott’s Déjà Vu (2006), Oliver Stone’s historical drama Alexander (2004), and The Ten Commandments: The Musical (2004) are among his noteworthy works in the first decade of the new millennium.



Kilmer continued his work in various roles in the 2010s. Bloodworth (2010), a drama about the life of a musician, Francis Ford Coppola’s horror movie Twix (2011), Kill the Irishman (2011), The Snowman (2017), and Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn (2014), where he played Mark Twain, are some of his prominent works in the decade. He also appeared in some TV series since 2000, including Entourage, The Spoils of Babylon and the 2008 mini-series Camanche Moon.

The 2020s will be a new beginning for Val Kilmer. He has gained his health after battling throat cancer in secret for two years, and he will have his first memoir entitled I’m Your Huckleberry published by Simon & Schuster. The most exciting news is that he has starred in Top Gun’s sequel along with Tom Cruise, which is expected to hit the theaters in mid-2020.



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