Val Kilmer -- A Horrible Evening Spent With Him

Val Kilmer is an amazing talent. The stories of his early days are legendary. He was the youngest actor to ever get into Juilliard acting program. He was offered lots of film roles while he was there, and did stage work before hitting the big screen.

It’s hard to pick your favorite role of his, because so many were great. Here in San Diego, most locals would pick his Ice Man character in “Top Gun” since it was filmed here.

I just recently saw “Tombstone” for the first time. He was good in that.

“Heat” was known for being the first movie that had Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in a scene together. Well, Kilmer wasn’t chopped liver in that.

I always thought his movie that Ron Howard directed, “Willow”, was underrated.

I saw his turn as Batman, but honestly, don’t remember it. I barely remember when Clooney played the caped crusader, either.

He’s the only guy to play two musical superstars -- Jim Morrison and Elvis (in the first Tarantino script, the underrated “True Romance”).

The first time I saw Kilmer in person was at Comic Con over 10 years ago. He was selling autographs for $25 each. There was a huge line, and I didn’t feel like paying. Especially since my favorite band -- The Doors -- well, it wasn’t my favorite movie. It was rather disappointing. Yet it wasn’t nearly as disappointing as the experience I had with Mr. Kilmer tonight.

He was screening the film of a stage play he did called “Citizen Twain”. You could get tickets to see that, or VIP tickets (which included drinks and desserts), or the meet-and-greet package, which was $100.

I couldn’t find The Doors DVD I had, I think because I gave the movie away. So we stopped first at a video store to buy Top Gun. I noticed his movie “The Saint,” and we got that, too. I figured, my wife and I could each get one signed.

When Kilmer walked into the event, everyone was snapping photos. It wasn’t too out of hand, though. He stopped to bend down and take a photo with a guy in a wheelchair, and it looked like he autographed something for him. I didn’t want to be pushy, and having a “meet-and-greet” ticket, I didn’t feel it was necessary to rush him.

Yet after he took a few photos with some people and some products, I found myself right near him. I pulled out the Saint DVD and asked him to sign it. He pointed to the elevator, which had just opened up. He didn’t sign, and went upstairs to the movie.

People were saying he wasn’t talking because of his recent surgery due to throat cancer. He was also wearing a scarf/bandana around his throat. That made me wonder how he completed his scenes for Top Gun 2 recently. It also made me wonder how he would do the Q&A he was supposed to do with the always entertaining and immensely talented Scott Mantz of Access Hollywood.

Well, we sat through this Citizen Twain, which was torture. He tried to make Mark Twain more of a stand-up comedian, and with a more modern touch. It was an hour and a half, but felt like three. It had a few funny scenes, but it just lacked coherence. Also, the fact that so much of this is spent “apologizing” to Mary Baker Eddy, only made sense to me because before the event, someone was talking about Kilmer being a Christian Scientist (she’s the founder of that religion). It would’ve been a bit more interesting if he delved into other aspects of Twain. For instance, he was friends with P.T. Barnum.

Anyway, the crowd was excited to see the Q&A and perhaps ask Kilmer a question. Well, he couldn’t talk. Yet it was never told to the crowd why he couldn’t talk. I remembered a few years ago seeing videos of his speech sounding belabored. So, Mantz did his best asking questions, and Kilmer would just smile and nod his head, and his assistant would answer for him. Sometimes that meant reading what Kilmer typed, but usually it was just his guess on what Kilmer would’ve said. It was easily the weirdest Q&A anybody has probably ever seen. One person sitting behind me said, “It’s like they’re dealing with a person that has special needs. This is so bizarre.”

But hey -- we were going to go to the meet-and-greet with Kilmer, and get autographs and take photos.

The desserts were being set out, but my wife and I went to where the line was forming. We were told that no flash photography was allowed, and there was a woman there that would take the photo with your cell phone.

After waiting 15 minutes, he came over and sat down. It’s always a weird photo when a person is sitting and you have to bend over. Those are the worst at book signings, when people try to lean over the table, too.

My wife told me, “I’ll go first. He’s more likely to sign an autograph for a woman.”

She approached him and said, “I’ve studied Mary Baker Eddy” and he immediately put his arms out to hug her. She then said a few other things to him, and asked if he’d sign the Saint DVD. He said no. They took their photo, and I was up next. I pointed to the Doors shirt I was wearing and said, “You did a good job playing Morrison, but the movie I loved was ‘Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang’ [Robert Downey, Jr.]. He smiled. We took the photo and I said, “Can you sign my Top Gun DVD?”

He nodded his head no, so...I walked away so the next person in line could get a photo with him.

Seriously, how money-grubbing is Kilmer? He’s here promoting his movie, he can’t talk to anyone, but arranged to do a $100 “meet-and-greet.” Well, if he can’t have a conversation with anyone, the least he could do is sign some autographs. And if somebody showed up with a bunch of 8x10’s, he could limit them to just one signed photo. But ya know one of the reasons he probably did this? Well, he had a table set up with 8x10s from all his movies, that were autographed. For the whopping price of $80 each. Or, you could buy one of his crappy stencilled pieces of art for a lot more. There were also replica hats from Tombstone that were signed. Those would set you back $895.

So, you go to a meet-and-greet that people paid $100 each for, and another $30 for the movie ticket, VIP area -- and you get a picture with Val Kilmer, who can’t talk and looks horrible. It was a disaster.

If any of you have the chance to see his film Citizen Twain, save yourself some time, and avoid it. You’re better off reading one of Twain’s books.

Views: 4358

Tags: Christian Science, Citizen Twain, Juilliard, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Mark Twain, Mary Baker Eddy, The Doors, Tombstone, Top Gun, Val Kilmer, More…Willow

Comment by BC on March 16, 2019 at 1:40pm

I'm younger, so westerns are not my thing either, but I liked Tombstone. It is certainly overrated and the shooting scenes are cheesy. Yet, it is still enjoyable and has a great cast. Even a heavyset Billy Bob Thorton got in on it. You're right about Boothe being the standout acting wise. His performance was great. I liked Michael Beihn too.

Comment by Christopher Williams on March 17, 2019 at 7:40am

Interesting story.

I loved "The Saint" and he was great as Doc Holliday (although I also loved Dennis Quaid as Doc Holliday).

Of course, the movie "Heat" had one of the best-of-all-time shooting scenes.

He's a great talent.  

Personally, I don't care how these people act in person since I've never had the desire to acquire an autograph from any of them.

Comment by Xwiesy on March 17, 2019 at 9:54am

I just have to wonder how Val is financially. He was hocking some weird scrapbook he handmade (10 or so?) for like 10 grand each. He's out there screening some movie that's a decade old...he can't talk, I dunno, he seems like he's hurting. I cant imagine someone sitting on a fortune acting this way. Someone steer me right if Im wrong...

Comment by Rich on March 17, 2019 at 10:16am

Westerns can still be done pretty well. Ed Harris directed a decent one called Appaloosa about 10 years ago. The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford was a great film, though I'm not sure if it falls more into the historical drama category.

Comment by Rich on March 17, 2019 at 10:28am

Met Val at C2E2 in 2012. I met three people that day - Sean Astin, Anthony Daniels and Val Kilmer. Astin was great, just a very warm personality. He had a much smaller line than Daniels and Kilmer, possibly because he's done the con circuit a bit more. My dad was with me, and as I was getting my Notre Dame mini helmet signed ("Ride" reference), casually asked Sean "Hey, how are your parents doing?" He seemed genuinely touched and said, "They're doing great, thank you for asking," then talked about how John was working as an acting professor and Patty was trying to get back into acting a bit more. Very warm personality. 

Kilmer and Daniels were right next to each other on the other side of the room. Kind of a fitting tag team of awfulness. Daniels' line was huge, as was Kilmer's. I waited for Daniels first. In all fairness, the guy wasn't terrible and seemed happy to talk to fans, but the line moved much slower than it should have as there was no really sense of urgency. This probably sounds like a good thing for fans who wanted to chat with him a bit, but it ultimately sabotaged the entire thing a bit, especially when you through in Daniels's frequent breaks to wander off who knows where. When I finally got up to him, Kilmer's line had died down to few people, and he seemed to have no interest in sticking around, despite his schedule having him at his autograph station much longer. My dad came back up to me to ask for my Tombstone photos, and Daniels got noticeably irked that he was being interrupted. Kilmer just wanted to go, Daniels blows a fuse the second he gets pulled out of his comfort zone (blows my min he's made a 40 year career of being in a metal suit in desert environments). 

Dad got my pics signed, but I never got to meet Kilmer. Official Pix employees working the event confirmed that Kilmer, despite the smiles, had an attitude and kind of silly ego. Even they weren't too interested in defending them.

Comment by Josh Board on March 17, 2019 at 4:14pm

Regarding Westerns: I loved Appalossa. Especially the fact that Ed made himself the "slow" character, and Viggo the smart one. Interesting move, and...he wrote and directed the film, too. Also loved the remake of 3:10 to Yuma, so yeah, there have been a few.

Regarding Val and money: He must be dead broke. I thought the same thing. Why would he be doing this. He even has a Q&A at the end of the month in New Orleans. How, if he can't "talk" to answer questions??? It's all about making money. He once had a tax lean on him. I believe a few times. And he once owned a $33 million ranch, I believe in New Mexico. I think he's broke, and ya know what? It couldn't happen to a nicer guy. Everyone that's ever worked with him, has hated the experience. In William Goldman's book, he talked about how Michael Douglas had to have a talk with him. On another set, he put out a lit cigarette in a guys face. When he did Batman, he was difficult, and the director said he'd never, ever work with him again. Everyone, has hated the experience.

Comment by Rich on March 17, 2019 at 5:02pm

Didn't Brando grab and throw his cell phone on the set of Dr. Moreau?

Comment by Josh Board on March 17, 2019 at 8:41pm

I don't know if Brando did that, but I heard Brando say in an interview that "Mr. Kilmer...mistakes acting preparation for talent" (or something like that). Although, Brando was kind of a pain to work with sometimes, too. He often didn't bother to learn his lines.

Comment by Xwiesy on March 18, 2019 at 8:00am

Brando had zero room to talk about anybody else haha

Comment by Robert Babb on March 19, 2019 at 2:03pm

nice article josh! sorry he did not sign for you. I got him ttm a few times and wonder if they are real?


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