Actor Val Kilmer is currently unable to speak due to throat cancer and is currently undergoing treatment.

A new Amazon Prime documentary about Kilmer’s life will premiere tonight. The documentary was directed by Leo Scott and Ting Poo and premiered in Los Angeles on August 3 at the Directors Guild of America in West Hollywood. Jennifer Salke, Amazon Studios chief, introduced the movie along with Jerry Bruckheimer, who recorded a video from Atlanta where he is working on a movie.


“Thirty-five years ago, Val Kilmer jumped off the screen as ‘Iceman’ in Top Gun,” said Bruckheimer. “I’ve been lucky enough to follow him as both an actor and an artist. Now, he reprises his role as ‘Iceman’ in Top Gun: Maverick. But, more importantly, I’m here to share with you a moving and thrilling documentary about Val. Thank you, Val, for everything you’ve given us.”

Kilmer did not attend the Los Angeles premiere. However, his two children – Mercedes Kilmer and Jack Kilmer – were there. Jack, 26, recorded Kilmer’s narration for the documentary, his voiceover sessions were filmed by the directors. Kilmer himself speaks throughout the movie; the film shows him at home making collages and scrapbooks about his trips around the country attending Comic-Con and other autograph-signing events. He is heard on video that Kilmer shot over the years, talking about his days at Julliard, his rise in Hollywood, his family and his health struggles.

Poo explained that Val is more of an autobiographical documentary as opposed to a biographical one.

“We intentionally wanted it to be impressionistic. We were kind of inspired by his artwork and his scrapbooks, so we wanted to make, in a sense, a cinematic scrapbook of his life where we could juxtapose moments in time next to each other, based on either something as simple as geography or something as simple as an action and connect moments in time,” Poo told Deadline at the premiere’s afterparty. “He’s such a multi-dimensional person that you need to show little pieces here and there to try and put together a collage of who he is. And also the nature of a lot of the footage he shot, especially in his personal life, is very dreamy. It’s very impressionistic and so we wanted to lean into that.”

Kilmer played the role of singer-poet Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone‘s The Doors (1991). The actor reflected on how his “Method” approach to the role in the movie put his former wife, Joanne Whalley-Kilmer, through a year of living with a Morrison clone.

The film also featured footage of Kilmer in his younger years with Sean Penn and Kevin Bacon while they were backstage in the production of the play Slab Boys.

Kilmer revealed he idolizes Marlon Brando whom he worked with for The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996).

The actor also spoke openly about his life with the British actress, Whalley. Their relationship began on stage in London. The two were married from 1988 to 1996, after their son, Jack was born. Kilmer’s love for his children was shown in several scenes of the film, in moments where he is spending time with them, or when he created an Easter egg hunt on land he owned in New Mexico.

“He’s a very creative dad, in the way that he parented us,” Mercedes told Deadline at the after-party. “It’s hard to be objective about it but as far as I can be – like you see in the film where it’s Easter and we were with [him] that year – so he’s doing an Easter egg hunt and filming it all for us. He would always make these scrapbooks when we would go away. So he’s always kind of used art – the film presents that so truthfully – how he uses art as a way of just surviving and living and connecting … He’s a very inspiring parent to have because he’s always creating things.”

Kilmer has been working on a film about Mark Twain for several years. The movie may come to pass, but likely now without Kilmer as the main character due to the throat cancer.

Poo believes Kilmer thrived in balancing his passion for art with his Hollywood career.

“He appreciates both. I think that’s the push and pull,” he said. “He was born on the stage but also it was watching movies that inspired him as a young kid. I think he went back and forth in his career and he understands the mixture of art and commerce and basically pop culture. His career is a pretty good mixture of both those things. In the end, what he returned to was the stage and back to his roots a little bit. That’s why we wanted to include a pretty big section on Twain because it was a decade-long in-the-making masterpiece and the character that really captured his mind and imagination. So we wanted to give it its due.”

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