Val Kilmer makes an almost miraculous comeback as ‘Iceman’ in the new movie Top Gun: Maverick.
Top Gun fans better stand at attention for the most heartbreaking reunion as Val Kilmer makes an almost miraculous comeback in the upcoming sequel.
Even Tom Cruise’s daring stunts can’t match the courage of the 62-year-old actor who lost his voice as a result of life-saving surgery for throat cancer. The sun reports.
Grown men shed tears as they saw Val return in the role of confident Tom “Iceman” Kazansky who made him famous in 1986.
A highly charged scene featuring Tom’s pilot, Maverick, forms the emotional heart of the film, which has been receiving five-star reviews from critics ahead of its release next Wednesday.
The original transformed the then-unknown Val into Hollywood’s hottest hunk, and he’s dated singer Cher, supermodel Cindy Crawford, and actors Daryl Hannah and Angelina Jolie.
But a reputation for being difficult to work with, financial woes and his battle with cancer have seemingly destroyed all hopes of ever seeing Val in another film.
But radically new artificial voice technology has given the actor the ability to speak again.
Despite that, convincing Top Gun producers that he was fit to return to active duty was an arduous task for the film veteran.
Val rightly insisted that there was none Top Gun without ice cream man.
He stated, “Tom was Maverick, but Maverick’s nemesis was Iceman. The two went together like salt and pepper.
“It didn’t matter that the producers hadn’t contacted me. if The temptations sang in the heyday of Motown soul, ‘Ain’t too pride to beg’.”
That certainly wasn’t the attitude of Val three decades ago when he got the script for director Tony Scott’s film about recruits for the US Navy’s Fighter Weapons School.
The then 26-year-old thought it was “stupid” and only accepted the role because he was under contract with the studio.
At the time, Val had only appeared in two comedies, Very secret! and true genius†
The precocious newcomer didn’t play it safe, opting to expand lines and deliberately create tension off-screen with co-star Tom.
He reportedly formed a Team Iceman camp to rival anyone on the Maverick side and went to party while Tom diligently learned his script.
Val said: “Tom abstained from our revelry, and rightly so. From day one, he was focused on a single goal: to become the greatest action hero in movie history.”
Accepting the role turned out to be an accidental hiatus for Val as Top Gun was the box office biggest hit of 1986, and Val’s phrase, “You can be my wingman any time,” is part of pop culture.
Two years later, the ladies man met his wife, British actress Joanne Whalley, 60, on the set of fantasy film, Willow, and they had two children, Mercedes, now 30, and Jack, 26.
His insistence on method acting — when an actor stays in his character for long periods — caused problems for both his marriage and co-stars.
All year long he played tragic rock frontman Jim Morrison in 1991 The doorshe didn’t break out of the part at home or price himself out of the same leather pants.
While auditioning for the Oliver Stone movie, Val got so caught up in the moment that he was going to “beat” actress Caitlin O’Heaney, resulting in a financial settlement.
Batman forever (1995) director Joel Schumacher described Val – who played the caped crusader only once – as “psychotic” and, after starring in sci-fi horror The Island of Dr Moreau a year later, the second director John Frankenheimer said, “There are two things I will never do in all my life: I will never climb Mount Everest and I will never work with Val Kilmer again.”
Val admits he occasionally crossed the line.
In a recent documentary, Val, about his life and career, he defended himself by saying, “I have behaved badly, I have behaved bravely, I have behaved bizarrely towards some.”
His actress daughter Mercedes, who is so close to her father that she lives next door to him in California, said, “He has a reputation for being tough, which is deserved and undeserved.”
Val is now in regular contact with the mother of his children, despite their acrimonious breakup in 1996.
The actor claimed he only learned through news reports that Joanne had left him.
The actress, best known for her role as the call girl in the 1989 film Scandalsued Val for alleged non-payment of child support in 2011.
But recently he said: “Joanne and I have a tremendous amount of respect for each other and she was and is a big part of my life.”
Val, who claimed to prefer the company of women over men, has surprisingly been single for a few decades.
In a 2020 interview, he said, “I haven’t had a girlfriend in 20 years. The truth is I’m alone part of every day.”
Ex-girlfriend Cher, whom he dated in 1981 before he became famous, proved pivotal in Val’s life-saving cancer treatment.
In 2015, the actor was short of money and living alone after a New Mexico real estate deal cost him millions of dollars during the 2008 financial crisis.
Val woke up one morning in a pool of blood he had coughed up because of a growing lump in his throat that made it difficult for him to swallow.
“I assumed this was the day of my death,” he wrote in his autobiography I’m your Huckleberry†
He received an emergency tracheotomy — an incision through the front of the neck and into the windpipe to help a patient breathe — at nearby Santa Monica Hospital. But he needed ongoing care and it was his lifelong friend Cher who got him transferred to the David Geffen School of Medicine, which is known for its cancer research.
For two months, Val underwent chemotherapy and radiation before leaving to recuperate at Cher’s Malibu guesthouse.
He wrote, “Once Cher makes her way into your head and heart, she never leaves.”
When fellow A-lister Michael Douglas revealed in 2016 that Val had cancer, he denied it, before revealing the truth a year later.
Today, Val is open about his struggles. Footage from his documentary showed Val throwing up after signing autographs in a wheelchair at the Comic Con fan convention in London.
But the actor, raised as a Christian Scientist by his parents, gives glory to God instead of medicine for curing his cancer.
Val has said his faith healed him “much faster than any of the doctors predicted”.
Adherents of Christian Science believe that diseases, including cancer, do not really exist and are the result of negative thoughts.
The actor has said: “There is nothing good or bad, but the thinking makes it so. I prayed, and that was my form of treatment.”
What cannot be denied is that science has been a major player in giving Val his voice back.
A tech company called Sonantic took old voice recordings of the actor and used artificial intelligence to convert them into words played through a speaker.
Val said: “I was stricken with throat cancer. After being treated, my voice as I knew it was taken from me. People around me have trouble understanding me when I talk.
“But despite all that, I still feel like I’m the exact same person.”
Val, who wears scarves to cover his tracheotomy and often looks swollen, insists he feels much healthier than he looks.
That has allowed him to play an older and wiser Iceman in Top Gun: Maverick†
In the new film, his character is an admiral in command of the US Pacific Fleet and on more friendly terms with top test pilot Maverick, who tries to evade a promotion that would leave him grounded.
While Val may not have as many lines this time around, he is very happy to be back.
He concludes: “The characters never really go away. They live on, frozen. If you’ll forgive the pun.”
This article originally appeared on The sun and is reproduced with permission.
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