Val Kilmer: Real Genius

Apparently didn't pick up much while playing this part...
Apparently didn't pick up much while playing this part...

This is several years old and I’m sure at least some of you have seen it before. But wow. It’s from an interview in Esquire magazine:

The conversation evolves into a meditation on the emotional toll that acting takes on the artist. I ask him about the “toll” that he felt while making the 1993 western Tombstone. He starts talking about things that happened to Doc Holliday. I say, “No, no, you must have misunderstood me. I want to know about the toll it took on you.” He says, “I know, I’m talking about those feelings.” And this is the conversation that follows:

Me: You mean you think you literally had the same experience as Doc Holliday?

Kilmer: Oh, sure. It’s not like I believed that I shot somebody, but I absolutely know what it feels like to pull the trigger and take someone’s life.

Me: You understand how it feels to shoot someone as much as a person who has actually committed a murder?

Kilmer: I understand it more. It’s an actor’s job. A guy who’s lived through the horror of Vietnam has not spent his life preparing his mind for it. He’s some punk. Most guys were borderline criminal or poor, and that’s why they got sent to Vietnam. It was all the poor, wretched kids who got beat up by their dads, guys who didn’t get on the football team, couldn’t finagle a scholarship. They didn’t have the emotional equipment to handle that experience. But this is what an actor trains to do. I can more effectively represent that kid in Vietnam than a guy who was there.

Me: I don’t question that you can more effectively represent it, but that’s not the same thing. If you were talking to someone who’s in prison for murder and the guy said, “Man, it really fucks you up to kill another person,” do you think you could reasonably say, “I completely know what you’re talking about”?

Kilmer: Oh yeah. I’d know what he’s talking about.

Me: Let’s say someone made a movie about you–Val Kilmer–and they cast Jude Law in the lead role. By your logic, wouldn’t this mean that Jude Law–if he succeeded in the role–would therefore understand what it means to be Val Kilmer more than you do?

Kilmer: No, because I’m an actor. The people in those other circumstances don’t have the self-knowledge.

He goes on to admit that someone playing him as a youngster before he became an actor would know more about being Val Kilmer as a youngster than Val Kilmer does. But he then goes on to claim that he knows as much about being Moses as Moses did because he once played Moses. And that if he had been given the lead role in Passion of the Christ, he’d know as much about Jesus Christ’s experiences as Jesus knows.

Though the interviewer admits it’s tough to tell, he was pretty sure Kilmer was completely serious.

Kilmer is someone I’ve always sort of liked as an actor. Though a big movie watcher (and failed screenwriter wannabe) I never really spent any time following the gossip or other news about actors and other Hollywood personalities. The more I learn, the less I want to.

Via Lab Rat, who points out Actor Val Kilmer Said He Is Pondering A 2010 Run For Governor In New Mexico

2 thoughts on “Val Kilmer: Real Genius”

  1. Kilmer is legendary when it comes to not getting along with people on the set. Always seemed to be a bit too full of himself.

    This interview doesn’t do anything to change my mind.

    James

  2. What an arrogant douche. He “knows” what it’s like? I throw the BS flag on that one. As to his “theory” on Vietnam Vets, I’ve got a couple of friends I’d like him to repeat this in front of. They’d kick his ass. They actually know what it feels like, unlike this self-important jack-off. What a prick.

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