On the set of “Top Gun: Maverick,” emotions were running high.
36 years after the classic original film, Val Kilmer returns for a brief cameo in the new sequelOn May 27, Tom “Iceman” Kazansky joined his old-screen rival Tom Cruise as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell.
In a poignant scene filmed in front of a small group of crew members and family members, the wise men of yesteryear are emotionally reunited in the offices of Iceman, now the commander of the U.S. Navy. The emotion we see on the star’s face doesn’t get much from any one man, sources say.
“I was on set and I saw it with my own eyes, and it was amazing,” Kilmer’s daughter, singer-actor Mercedes Kilmer, 30, told The Post. “It means a lot to my dad because he’s so proud of that movie. It’s something he loves to do.”
She added on the experience of watching her famous father, now 62, who played Ice for the first time at the age of 26: “My dad felt psychedelic on set with all his friends who made this movie, and it was very special to me. age.”
What made the day especially moving for the Kilmers and his co-stars was the actor’s “maverick” appearance after His tough two-year battle with throat cancerwhich made him lose his voice.
Shocked actor fans get first look at his health problems Revealing the documentary “Val”, It premiered last summer.
They see a very different Kilmer, who has been free from cancer for six years but has gone down a treacherous path. He had an emergency tracheostomy, an incision made in his windpipe to allow him to breathe, which forced him to use a feeding tube to eat and caused him to almost lose the ability to vocalize.
On “Maverick,” his voice had to be recreated using archival recordings and sophisticated techniques.
Kilmer’s valiant struggles are a far cry from the carefree early days of Hollywood heartthrobs whose lives were all abs and aviator sunglasses.
Kilmer was born and raised in California, where he and his brother Wesley would produce nuanced short films in the backyard.
“They were really creative,” Leos Scott, who co-directed “Val” with Ding Bao, told The Washington Post. “It’s been there all the time, and you can see it in the early footage.”
After his best friend Wesley died of a seizure at the age of 15, a heartbroken Kilmer moved to New York to study acting at The Juilliard School.
He dabbled in Shakespeare on stage, but got his big break with the 1984 film Top Secret!. It wasn’t long before he became a big name with 1986’s “Top Gun” which made the world fall in love with Kilmer, Cruise and the bespectacled Anthony Edwards as “Goose”.
Although this is the role he is best known for, Kilmer wasn’t initially keen on making Top Gun.
“I don’t want this role,” he wrote in his 2020 memoir, “I am your Huckleberry“I don’t care about this movie. I am not interested in this story.My agent, who also represents Tom Cruise, is basically torturing me to at least meet [director] Tony Scott. ”
Kilmer agreed to go, but he went to great lengths to ruin his chances. During the audition, he “looked like a fool . . . I read the lines casually.” However, when he got the part, he found himself enjoying playing Iceman.
The ladies found they liked Kilmer.
A true heartthrob, the actor is in high demand when it comes to romance.
He has had a string of famous girlfriends including Daryl Hannah, Cindy Crawford and Angelina Jolie. He dated Cher in the early ’80s before meeting his future ex-wife.
That was British actress Joanne Wiley, the eventual mother of his children Mercedes and Jack, whom he first met on the set of the 1987 fantasy adventure film Willow. The couple married in 1988.
They teamed up on “Kill Me Again” in 1989, but Whalley filed for divorce in 1995, citing irreconcilable differences. Although she sued him in 2011 for providing child support to Jack, they have a good relationship today, Mercedes said.
He went on to shoot major films, including Jim Morrison in 1991’s “The Door” and the Caped Crusader in Joel Schumacher’s controversial “Batman Forever” in 1995, as well as many smaller work.
Acting enthusiast, and later returned to the stage. In 2014, when Kilmer donned a Mark Twain wig on his tour “Citizen Twain”, he noticed a lump in his throat.
After waking up in a pool of his own blood one night, he was diagnosed with throat cancer. The actor wrote in his autobiography that he “thought it was the day I died” when he underwent an emergency tracheotomy.
A lifelong Christian scientist, he spoke about his decision to undergo chemotherapy, even though it went against his religious beliefs.
He told The New York Times Magazine in 2020 that he initially I believe he will find a cure By relocating and working with his practitioner (a kind of spiritual counselor) to help pray that his fears go away so that his body no longer “shows outwards what could be diagnosed as a disease.”
But his children and relatives disagreed and urged him to undergo treatment. “I just don’t want to experience their fear, it’s profound,” he said.
“I had to leave, I just didn’t want to be without them.”
His ex-girlfriend Cher then came to the rescue. The “If I Could Turn Back Time” singer arranged for her old boyfriend to be treated at the prestigious David Geffen School of Medicine, where he underwent two months of chemotherapy and radiation.
Afterwards, he lived at the Singer Guest House in Malibu, writing in his book, “Once Cher is working in your head and heart, she never leaves.”
Although Cher supported Kilmer during her battle with cancer, she is not believed to have paid for her treatment, sources said.
“If I don’t plug this hole, I can’t talk [in his throat]You have to choose to breathe or eat,” he said in the 2021 Mercedes-produced documentary “Val,” who appeared in the 2013 film “Palo Alto” with his son Jack, 26.”
An emergency tracheostomy and subsequent radiation and chemotherapy left the actor with a feeding tube and difficulty speaking.
Since then, Mercedes said, his presentation has improved.
“He did a great job,” she said. “He can talk, but it’s really harsh.”
After the turnaround, Kilmer was desperate to appear in the long-awaited Maverick.
“It’s okay if the producer doesn’t contact me,” he wrote. “As Temptations sang in the heyday of Motown Soul, ‘Don’t be too proud to beg.'”
Kilmer’s longtime business partner, Ali Alborzi, praised his drive.
“Val and Tom have been friends for 36 years in order to make another ‘Top Gun’ movie that was very important to both of them,” he told The Washington Post. “It doesn’t look right without Val in it.”
Kilmer’s role was secured, and the production team and London-based artificial intelligence company Sonantic then used AI to recreate his voice so he could perform again.
“It was fantastic that they were able to voice him in his own voice,” Mercedes said. “It’s a technical feat, and being able to engineer his sound in this way is an extension of the technical feats of cinema.”
As exciting as his comeback was, Kilmer didn’t attend any of the “Top Gun: Maverick” premieres – May 4 in San Diego, Wednesday night’s Cannes Film Festival or London’s Royal Palace in attendance by Prince William The show and Kate Middleton on Thursday night. Mercedes confirmed he was staying at his Hollywood Hills home to avoid crowds due to the pandemic.
Jack and Mercedes replaced their father on the red carpet in Cannes on the French Riviera.
Variety said that at the French premiere, “there was an overwhelming response when Val Kilmer, who played the Crusker Iceman in the original film, appeared in a scene in Cruise. The screening lasted five minutes. The standing ovation ends.”
Kilmer still has big plans for his career. He continues to work, busy with artistic pursuits related to his Los Angeles-based gallery/creative incubator HelMel Studio, and continues to perform. In 2020, he co-starred in the thriller “Paydirt” with Mercedes.
“I never underestimate my dad. He was a very resilient guy and nothing surprised me,” she said.
“Now he has his own voice [thanks to technology] he can definitely take on more projects.
“Some people were like, ‘Oh, I’ve got a cold, I’m not going to act today, but he’s really not letting anything stop him,'” she said.
“I want him to rest!”