About Val Edward Kilmer
Originally a stage actor, Val Kilmer became popular in the mid-1980s after a string of appearances in comedy films starting with Top Secret! and then the cult classic Real Genius, as well as blockbuster action films, including "Ice Man" in Top Gun. He received his breakthrough role in 1991 as rock icon Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone's The Doors.
He was born Val Edward Kilmer on December 31, 1959 in Los Angeles, California, the son of Gladys (née Ekstadt) and Eugene Kilmer, an aerospace equipment distributor and real estate developer. Kilmer's grandfather was a gold miner in New Mexico; the poet Joyce Kilmer is a distant cousin of Kilmer's. Kilmer is of German, Swedish, Irish, and Cherokee descent. He grew up in the San Fernando Valley with his two siblings, older brother Mark and younger brother Wesley (who died at 15 due to an epileptic seizure in a swimming pool).
Kilmer, who was raised a Christian Scientist, attended Chatsworth High School where began acting in high school with friend Kevin Spacey. He later attended Hollywood Professional School and Julliard, where he was the youngest student to be accepted to the drama division.
After performing on stage in New York, Kilmer received his film debut in 1984 in the spy spoof Top Secret!. After a string of supporting parts, including the roommate in Real Genius and "Ice Man" in Top Gun, he received his breakthrough role in 1991 as rock icon Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone's The Doors. The film allowed him to show off another talent; Kilmer provided his own singing voice for the soundtrack. He followed this success by portraying other American legends in his next two films: gunslinger Doc Holliday in Tombstone and the spirit of Elvis in True Romance.
It was during this period in his career that Kilmer earned a reputation as being difficult to work with. The actor notably clashed with Michael Apted for Thunderheart and Joel Schumacher for Batman Forever. In 1995, after refusing to repeat the Bruce Wayne role, Kilmer broke his Batman contract and signed on for the crime thriller Heat with Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. And in 1996, he co-starred with Michael Douglas for The Ghost and the Darkness.
During the late 1990s, Kilmer delivered a string of less-than-successful performances, including The Saint, At First Sight and Joe the King. After lending his booming voice to the role of Moses in the animated film The Prince of Egypt, he returned to form in The Salton Sea as a tormented drug addict.
Kilmer's affairs off-screen have kept the media on watch, including liaisons with Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer and Cindy Crawford. He married actress Joanne Whalley, whom he met on the set of Willow, in 1988. They divorced in 1996 and have two children, Mercedes and Jack.