Throat Cancer, Voice Box Can't Silence Val Kilmer

Actor speaks through personal footage spanning decades in new doc
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 7, 2021 10:45 AM CDT

Val Kilmer's speaking ability was severely limited by an operation on his trachea, but no matter. The actor speaks volumes, through footage personally shot over four decades, in a new documentary premiering this week at the Cannes Film Festival. Val utilizes home video footage "from virtually every chapter of his life," from his childhood to his time as a Juilliard student to his 1983 Broadway debut, on to his one-time stint as Batman, eventually reaching his experience with throat cancer, reports IndieWire. Directors Leo Scott and Ting Poo sorted through 800 of hours of footage—or thousands of hours, according to Variety—to come up with the final product. "It was gold, like a treasure trove," Poo tells IndieWire. "You got the sense from the material that he was knowingly, wisely, gathering some of these things for a bigger story one day," adds Scott.

"I've lived a magical life, and I've captured quite a bit of it," says Kilmer's son, Jack, speaking for his father, in a voice-over from the film's trailer. "I was the first guy I knew to own a video camera." Scott notes the 61-year-old, shown speaking with a voice box, was using his own cameras on sets "so early on" that people found it unusual, per IndieWire. Poo adds that the actor filmed over 200 hours of footage just while working on 2000's Red Planet. "He had a full camera crew with him, and his own HD cam" but "we ended up using less than a minute." Kevin Bacon and Sean Penn are among those appearing in the film, which also explores Kilmer's "camaraderie with Tom Cruise on Top Gun" and "rockier experiences alongside Marlon Brando during the disastrous production of The Island of Dr. Moreau," per IndieWire. The Amazon film is out in theaters on July 23 and on Prime Video on Aug. 6. (Read more Val Kilmer stories.)

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