‘Val’ provides an inside peek into Hollywood stardom

“Val” follows footage taken by Val Kilmer throughout the course of his diverse career.


“Val” follows footage taken by Val Kilmer throughout the course of his diverse career.

Reese Duncan, News Editor

With “Top Gun: Maverick” being released into theaters on May 24, 2022, many viewers are wondering why actor Val Kilmer does not partake as big of a role in this film compared to the 1986 original. This is primarily due to Kilmer losing his voice in his difficult fight with throat cancer, a fight in which he proved victorious. 

Now that Kilmer has taken a step back from acting, he has been given time to reflect on his own career and his various life experiences throughout the years. Documentary-makers Leo Scott and Ting Poo teamed up to create a beautifully comprehensive documentary on Kilmer and the deep-rooted effects that come along with the rise and fall of stardom.

The documentary highlights the footage that Kilmer took throughout the decades and eras of his career. From “Top Gun,” “Heat,” “Tombstone” and even “Batman Forever,” Kilmer filmed behind the scenes in a home video style. Between the footage reels, Kilmer gives his own commentary on how that particular production was and how it affected his career. Kilmer has to use an electrolarynx, a device that creates a voice for those with damaged vocal cords, to speak. While he gives some of the commentary, the rest is given by his son, Jack Kilmer. On top of this, Kilmer also chimes in on the sometimes harsh public opinions and how it has affected his career and even his own view of himself. The combination of this commentary and footage forms a retrospective documentary that gives outsiders a look into the life of a fallen Hollywood superstar.

One of the most prevalent topics touched on by Kilmer was the comparison of “Top Gun” to his other roles. Fresh out of Juilliard, Kilmer was more forced into the role of Iceman than many think. Nonetheless, he was thankful for a role in such a large production. It was his jump to ultimate stardom and the role that many know him for. Still, Kilmer found far more artistic fulfillment in his role of Chris Shiherlis in 1995’s “Heat.” 

Furthermore, the actor talks about how “Batman Forever” forced him to act less in order to keep the spotlight on other characters. Several moments dwell on how that film made him feel like simply a famous face who was there to play a version of Batman who had almost no personality and a lack of lines. From this point on in his life, Kilmer pursued films that respected his artistic autonomy, refocusing the rest of the documentary on his own personal endeavors.

Released on July 23, 2021, the film already knew of the upcoming blockbuster “Top Gun: Maverick.” However, it focuses more on Kilmer’s feelings and personal developments in his career, forming a more emotional and extensive documentary.