On January 19, “Val” was released on VOD platforms. Directed by Leo Scott and Ting Poo, this is a poignant documentary about Val Kilmer. In this new film, the actor looks back on his entire career and in particular on his incarnation of Batman. A role that was ultimately not a cakewalk.
What’s this Val, the documentary on Val Kilmer?
Directed by Leo Scott and Ting Poo, Val is a documentary film, as its name suggests, centered on the career of comedian Val Kilmer. From his beginnings in the 1980s, through his years of theater, then the immense success of Top Gun, the documentary traces the actor’s 40-year career. Val also allows to learn more about the private life of Val Kilmer. The latter highlights his family, his daughter and his son, who serves as the narrator of the story.
In 2015, Val Kilmer is diagnosed with laryngeal cancer. Although he has recovered overall, Val Kilmer has definitely lost his voice and now speaks through a special device. A condition that has obviously been a brake on his acting career. Val do not hesitate, moreover, to approach the disease of the actor without detour, and with an unexpected sensitivity. Recently, Val Kilmer attempts a comeback. He was on the poster of the series B Paydirt and will soon be again in the skin of Iceman for Top Gun: Maverick. Thereby, Val allows us to take a sensitive look at an immense career, the past and the recent years of a great actor.
batman forever : the role of a life?
Through Val, the actor looks back on his greatest roles. It stops in particular on Top Gun, Willow, The Doors, Tombstone, Heat and obviously batman forever. In 1995, Warner wanted to produce a new Batman film, less dark than previous versions.
Sadly, Michael Keaton no longer wants to return to the role of the Dark Knight, in particular because of the departure of Tim Burton, replaced by Joel Schumacher. The production is therefore obliged to find a successor. She turns first to Ethan Hawke who refuses the proposal. It is therefore Val Kilmer who is hired, without even taking the time to read the script. A logical decision according to him since:
By Hollywood standards, Batman is the ultimate lead role and a dream come true.
The Beginning of Hell
Unfortunately for Val Kilmer, the reality turned out to be very different from his childhood dreams.
No matter how childishly excited I was, I was ground down by the reality of the Batsuit. Yes, all children dream of being Batman. They want to be him… but not necessarily embody him in a film.
So the first problem came from the Batman suit itself. His enthusiasm and excitement were crushed by the uncomfortable Dark Knight costume. In his documentary, Val Kilmer reveals that the Batsuit was heavy, very difficult to carry, and he couldn’t hear anything in it. The technical team had to help him to sit down, to get up and to walk. A situation that pushed him, little by little, to isolate himself from the rest of the group:
When you wear it, you can barely move and people have to help you get up and sit down. Also you can’t hear anything and after a while people stop talking to you, it really isolates you. I had to struggle to deliver a performance beyond the costume, and it was frustrating, until I realized my role in the film was only to show up and stand where I was told.
Val Kilmer regrets this choice
In hindsight, the actor regrets having played Bruce Wayne in the cinema. Notably because his own game was not up to his standards. Val Kilmer is renowned for being a complex actor and this role of Batman has been a brake on his creativity. always in Val, he remembers that:
Nothing I did seemed to change anything. So I tried to act like I was playing in a bad melodrama. When I was talking to Nicole…I lost count of the number of times I put my hands on my hips.
He notably compared his performance with those of Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carrey, both in the film. The latter had much more freedom in their movements, and had prepared their interpretations with great fervor. A situation that made Val Kilmer uncomfortable. When Warner offered him to return to the role of the vigilante for batman & robin, Val Kilmer refused, preferring to devote himself to The Island of Doctor Moreau to tour with his idol Marlon Brando. It was ultimately George Clooney who inherited the…