Despite being an integral part of many Hollywood blockbusters in the 1990s, Val Kilmer has slipped into obscurity in recent years, and many younger movie goers wouldn’t even recognize him if they saw him on the street. So, who is Val Kilmer? All you need to know about this former Hollywood actor.
Val Edward Kilmer was born on December 31, 1959 in Los Angeles. He was raised in a Christian Scientist family. This religion doesn’t believe in conventional medicine. As a result, he became an avid reader and developed a passion for Shakespeare while at school.
At age 13 he won an award for his role as young Tom Edison in The Invention of Electricity at Beverly Hills High School (BHHS). In 1977 his grades suffered due to his participation in theatre productions and art classes.
In 1984, Kilmer enrolled at UCLA School of Theater Arts. While there he joined Delta Tau Delta fraternity. After two years he decided to focus on acting and dropped out of college. It took a while for him to get established in Hollywood because his baby face often earned him roles that were far younger than his actual age.
Despite these setbacks, Kilmer began a career in film. His first notable appearance was in “Top Secret!” (1984). He followed that up with an appearance on “Real Genius” (1985) and then “Top Gun” (1986).
It was only his fifth role as “Jim Morrison” in “The Doors” (1991) that established him as a star. He had a promising career but he would become embroiled in controversy when his movie “Heat” got nominated for multiple Oscars including Best Picture.
In 1995 he was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in “Don Juan DeMarco”. He also appeared in “The Island of Dr. Moreau” (1996) and “Batman Forever” (1995). He would continue appearing in film throughout the 2000s but his roles became increasingly supporting ones.
Despite his personal and financial troubles he managed to appear in a number of successful movies. In 1995 he was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in “Don Juan DeMarco”.
He has also appeared in several television shows. Some of these include “Twin Peaks” (1990), “From Dusk Till Dawn” (1996-1997), and “3rd Rock from the Sun” (1996-2001). Most recently he appeared in “Two and a Half Men” from 2011-2013.
Today Val Kilmer has a net worth of $15 million. He still earns significant income from his film and television work but most of his wealth comes from real estate. His two main houses are in New York City and Malibu California. He also owns a house in Beverly Hills, which he used to rent out for short periods of time on Airbnb.
Born on December 31, 1959 in Los Angeles, California, his acting debut was at age 10 in an episode of “The Nancy Walker Show”. His breakout role came at age 16 as a teen prodigy opposite Anthony Hopkins in “The Tiger Makes Out”.
His breakthrough performance came in 1987 as “Jim Morrison” in “The Doors”, for which he earned a Golden Globe nomination and an Academy Award nomination. In 1988, he co-starred with Nick Nolte in “Cold Steel”.
He earned his second Golden Globe nomination for starring opposite Meryl Streep in “Warren Beatty’s Bugsy” (1991). A year later he made headlines by being one of a handful of directors sued by film critic Pauline Kael over her firing from Robert Altman’s The Player.
A prolific actor in his early career, he appeared in an estimated 68 movies from 1981 through 1999. In 1999 he was ranked number 72 on Empire’s The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time list. His performance in “The Doors” (1991) is ranked #42 on Premiere Magazine’s 100 Greatest Performances of All Time. He has been nominated for Golden Globe Awards and Screen Actors Guild Awards several times throughout his career.
A versatile character actor as well as a leading man, he has been successful in romantic dramas like “The Lake House” (2006) and action thrillers like “White Noise” (2005).
His film career has been less active in recent years. He returned to theatre in 2011 with The Exonerated at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company. In 2013, he played a supporting role in “Parkland” and starred in Paul Schrader’s critically acclaimed “The Dying of the Light”. In 2014, he co-starred with Ed Harris and Helen Mirren in “Jane Got a Gun”.
For his performance in “City of Hope” (1991) he was nominated for a Golden Globe Award and an Independent Spirit Award. His other films include “White Sands” (1992), “Heat” (1995), “The First Wives Club” (1996), “U Turn” (1997), “Batman Forever” (1995), “The Island of Dr. Moreau” (1996) and “Mystery Men” (1999). He portrayed John Nash in both “A Beautiful Mind” and in its sequel “A Beautiful Mind: The Proof”.
He also appeared in “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” (2012) as Principal Folsom. Most recently he co-starred with Jamie Foxx in “Sleepless” (2017). In 2018, he was cast as Lt. Gen. Lesley McNair in Clint Eastwood’s biopic about Gen. George S.
The rise of his career:
After leaving Los Angeles Valley College in 1976, he began to pursue a career in theatre and made his way into Broadway. He debuted on stage in Candide and later made an appearance on “The Iceman Cometh”. His performance earned him two Tony Award nominations in 1981 and 1983 for Best Supporting or Featured (Dramatic) Role for both of these performances.
In 1985, he was cast in his first movie role for “The Hitcher”. Two years later, he played Martin Sheen’s son in “Oliver Stone’s Platoon” and gained fame with co-star Charlie Sheen. His breakthrough performance was in “Top Gun” (1986) alongside Tom Cruise.
In 1989, he appeared in “Wyatt Earp” alongside Kevin Costner and reunited with Sean Penn in “The Rookie”. He also voiced one of his most famous characters “Doc Hudson” in “Pixar’s Cars” franchise. In 1993 he received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor for his role as Vincent van Gogh in Julian Schnabel’s biopic. His other notable films include “Tombstone” (1993), “Wyatt Earp” (1994), “The Island of Dr.”
He also starred in “Tombstone” alongside Kurt Russell and Sam Elliott. His other notable films include Wyatt Earp (1994), “The Island of Dr. Moreau” (1996), “U-571” (2000) and “Gosford Park” (2001). More recently he has been seen in “Grindhouse” (2007), “Brothers Bloom” (2008) and “The Last Stand” (2013). In 2015 he was cast as “Lex Luthor” for “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”.
When he was nominated for an Oscar in 1995 for his role in “The Usual Suspects”, he became known as one of Hollywood’s most respected character actors. In a strange career turn-about, however, after winning critical acclaim for his portrayal of “Jim Morrison” in “The Doors” (1991), he stopped taking acting roles and decided to only appear in films that were important to him.
He was not perceived as a traditional leading man, despite his good looks and lean figure. When he started working in film, he had to learn how to underplay his performances so that people would pay attention more to what he was saying than how he was saying it. In an industry where one’s looks are often more important than what they have to say, Val Kilmer played by his own rules.
He’s also known for his eclectic taste in roles. He doesn’t limit himself by choosing a specific type of role – instead he decides whether or not a movie is important based on his gut instinct. In other words, he’s incredibly choosy about which projects he gets involved with, and he would rather do fewer films that are interesting than more films that aren’t as captivating.
Kilmer was born in Los Angeles, California. He is a son of Gladys Swan (née Gough), a foreign-born socialite and real estate agent, and Eugene Dorris Kilmer, an aerospace equipment distributor and real estate developer.
A talented singer from an early age, he originally wanted to pursue a career as a professional singer when he was young. However, his interests changed at 17 when his family traveled around Europe with his father’s job.
He attended University High School in Los Angeles and became a part of many school plays. After high school, he studied at Chatsworth High School with actor Kevin Spacey before dropping out and being forced to return home after his father’s death.
From then on, he worked at his father’s company before starting his career as an actor. He attended Pierce College for one year and then studied acting at “The Beverly Hills Playhouse” for several years. Early in his career, he was frequently billed as Kyle Randall or Michael R. Kilmer before taking on his current name in 1985. He also appeared in three episodes of television series “Knight Rider” (1982–1986).
In 1984, he got his first major role in “Top Secret!”, a comedy film written and directed by Jim Abrahams and David Zucker. The same year he played in “Purple People Eater”. His breakthrough role was as Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee in “A Few Good Men” (1992), for which he was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe.
In 1995, he played “Jim Morrison” in “The Doors”. In 1996 he starred as Batman/Bruce Wayne in “Batman Forever”, and reprised that role in “1997’s Batman & Robin”. His performance was poorly received by critics.
In 1997, he reprised his role as Lt. Daniel Kaffee in a US $20 million production of “A Few Good Men on Broadway”. Although it was a financial success, it closed within a month due to negative reviews.
After appearing in several films during the 1990s, Kilmer took a hiatus from motion pictures and focused on his career on stage. His most successful outing was his portrayal of “Jim Morrison” in “The Doors” which earned him a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film. In 2004, he returned to mainstream film when he appeared in several films, including “Batman Forever” and “Shall We Dance?” (2004).
Over his 25-year career in show business, actor Val Kilmer has never abandoned his life as a philanthropist. Although he is best known for starring roles such as Doc Holliday in “Tombstone” and Bruce Wayne / Batman in “Batman Forever” and “Batman & Robin”, he doesn’t allow those parts of his career to overshadow his life dedicated to social causes. Here are a few of the notable causes that he supports:
Since he launched a charitable organization called “The Val Kilmer Foundation” back in 2003, which focuses on preserving natural resources and endangered species. One of his latest campaigns is “Save Vanishing Species” which works to protect vulnerable wildlife by encouraging people not only to give financially but also to help educate others about their plight.
He also created “Reach Out Worldwide” which delivers first aid and emergency relief supplies during natural disasters. Its mission is to provide fast medical assistance as soon as possible after a disaster strikes in order to save lives.
He has always worked with a lot of enthusiasm for his causes and he makes sure that his fans are involved as well. Just recently he encouraged them to attend a rally in Los Angeles in support of same-sex marriage and was one of its main speakers along with other actors including Jane Lynch and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
Apart from his philanthropic work, he is also very passionate about environmental issues and often participates in environmental protests. His latest public appearance was on “Earth Day” where he gave a speech at “Glendale Community College” supporting clean energy projects such as solar power.
As a nature lover, he has said that one of his main reasons for working in Los Angeles is that it gives him access to great hiking spots which makes hiking one of his favorite hobbies.
Trivia facts about Val Kilmer:
Popular American actor and director, best known for his role as Batman/Bruce Wayne in 1995 blockbuster “Batman Forever” and its 1997 sequel “Batman & Robin”. His career catapulted with roles in blockbusters “Top Gun” (1986), “Willow” (1988), “The Doors” (1991) and “Tombstone” (1993).
In addition to acting, he has also been involved in producing and directing several of his own films. His directorial film debut was as a co-director for “The Saint of Fort Washington” (1993), followed by “Single White Female” (1992). His other notable works include “Against All Odds” (1984), at which point he had become romantically involved with co-star Jane Brucker; “Heat” (1995) and its sequel “L.A. Takedown” (1999); and “Wyatt Earp” (1994).
More recently, Kilmer played a lead role in drama thriller film “Citizen Jane” (2018), where he appeared opposite Kristen Stewart. The film had its world premiere at South by Southwest Film Festival on 9 March 2018. It was then screened at several other festivals including “Nantucket Film Festival” and “Los Angeles Film Festival”. It was released theatrically on 7 December 2018 in a limited release and through video on demand by Magnolia Pictures.