These Are Val Kilmer’s Best Movies

Highly-renowned actor Val Kilmer is a talented performer with an extensive and diverse resume. Since his film debut in the 1984 comedy Top Secret!, the Hollywood heavyweight has appeared in numerous critically acclaimed and box office hits. His role as Lieutenant Tom “Iceman” Kazansky in the quintessential ‘80s flick Top Gun truly shot Kilmer to prominence and would lead to starring roles in hits like The Doors, Tombstone and Heat, among countless others. Kilmer will even reprise the role in the much-anticipated and overdue sequel Top Gun: Maverick.

Arguably the actor’s greatest asset is his gift of being a chameleon on the silver screen; he’s not afraid to jump from genre to genre, regardless of how big or small the role is. He is able to captivate audiences with his authentic and confident characters, as reflected in his widely distinct filmography, even if that means sometimes going extremely method and alienating those around him, with his on-set behavior having become infamous.

Kilmer’s acting career has spanned decades, an impressive feat in the finicky world of mainstream movies. He’s quite literally done it all in Hollywood; whether he’s portraying famous real-life figures, beloved superheroes, or a Biblical prophet, the superstar is not afraid to tackle any role. Even with his recent battle with throat cancer, Kilmer continues to shine as a talented acting force. He recently wrote the moving documentary Val that showcases his extensive career and personal fight with cancer, offering an intimate glimpse into his life. Let’s do the same and take a look at the best Val Kilmer movies.

10 The Saint

The Saint Remake Is Happening at Paramount Pictures

1997’s espionage thriller The Saint follows the title character, a master of disguise and high-tech thief whose latest job is to steal the secret process for cold fusion. Kilmer stars as Simon Templar, A.K.A ‘The Saint,’ and ends up falling in love with the scientist he’s supposed to steal from. Elisabeth Shue appears opposite Kilmer as Dr. Emma Russell, and the duo’s chemistry was praised by critics. Kilmer’s “It” factor is front-and-center in The Saint; he’s full of sarcasm and wit, portraying the perfect blend of brooding and bewitching. Though the film’s screenplay is muddled, Kilmer shines and his performance was applauded by critics. The San Francisco Chronicle wrote, “Kilmer dons 12 disguises in all, polishes them with impeccable accents and pliable postures.”

9 Real Genius

Real Genius TV Show Happening with Workaholics Producer

Val Kilmer was able to show off his comedy chops early in his career with the parody Top Secret! and the 1985 sci-fi flick Real Genius, in which he portrays a teen prodigy who enters a top engineering college and works on creating a chemical laser. When his professor wants to turn the laser into a military weapon, it’s up to Kilmer and his eccentric roommate to save the day. Co-starring Gabriel Jarret and William Atherton, the comedy was a modest success financially and was appreciated by critics, who enjoyed the zany premise and playful performance from Kilmer. Real Genius was the star’s second major role and he wasn’t afraid to fully embrace the slapstick humor and goofy comedy of the film. Val Kilmer is full of charm and charisma, and Real Genius highlighted his humor before he branched out into dramatic performances.

8 Batman Forever

The Moment Michael Keaton Knew Batman Forever Was Going to Suck

Many fine actors have donned Batman’s iconic black cape and mask in Hollywood, with some shining brighter than others. Moviegoers tend to sometimes forget that Val Kilmer briefly stepped into the role for 1995’s Batman Forever, which follows the caped crusader as he battles both the Riddler and Two-Face to protect Gotham City. Kilmer was cast when Michael Keaton chose not to reprise his role, and his performance polarized critics, with many comparing his portrayal unfavorably to Keaton’s. Batman Forever features an impressive cast like Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, and Nicole Kidman, earned over $336 million at the time despite mixed reviews. The film was released at the peak of Kilmer’s fame and the actor played the tortured Bruce Wayne with convincing strength and confidence. Though it was his only outing as the beloved DC hero, he’s one of the few stars who can say they’ve portrayed the iconic character.

Related: New The Batman Images Gives Clearest Look Yet at Robert Pattinson’s Batsuit

7 The Prince of Egypt

DreamWorks Pictures

Dreamworks’ 1998 animated classic The Prince of Egypt is a retelling of the famous Exodus story and follows the life of Moses from being the prince of Egypt to fulfilling his destiny of leading the Jews out of slavery. Kilmer takes on dual roles as both Moses and God and his voice performance was impressive and impactful; he shows off the character’s growth and maturity flawlessly and keeps audiences engaged. The Prince of Egypt has stunning animation, a memorable soundtrack, and a talented cast that ultimately helped it to become a box office smash. At the time, it became the most successful non-Disney animated feature and went on to win Best Original Song at the Academy Awards. It has an 80% Rotten Tomatoes score and remains a beloved, critically acclaimed movie.

6 True Romance

Warner Bros.

Tony Scott’s 1993 romantic crime movie True Romance was written by Quentin Tarantino and features an ensemble cast including Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Val Kilmer, and Dennis Hopper. Slater and Arquette portray newlyweds on the run from the mafia after they steal a shipment of cocaine, but it was Kilmer’s bizarre performance as Slater’s imaginary mentor, Elvis Presley, that really helped propel the film. It’s a small but extremely memorable role, and one of Kilmer’s most delightful. Despite initially being a box office failure, True Romance quickly developed a cult following and is considered one of Tony Scott’s best films. Critics praised the characters, unique style, and dialogue with Peter Travers of Rolling Stone proclaiming, “it’s Tarantino’s gutter poetry that detonates True Romance. The movie is dynamite.” With a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 93%, it is one of Kilmer’s highest-rated films.

5 Top Gun

Top Gun 2 Finalizes Cast, Val Kilmer Opens Up About the Experience

1986’s mega commercial hit Top Gun follows Lieutenant Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, a young pilot who, along with his Radar Intercept Officer LTJG Nick “Goose” Bradshaw, is given the opportunity to train at the prestigious US Navy’s Fighter Weapons School. Alongside Tom Cruise’s iconic portrayal of Maverick, Val Kilmer co-stars as the film’s antagonist LT Tom “Iceman” Kazansky, one of Top Gun’s star students and Maverick’s rival-turned-wingman. The action drama helped skyrocket Kilmer to stardom , as he perfectly portrays Maverick’s adversary, with his stoney stare downs, brazen quips, and smug grins. Despite mixed reviews from critics at the time, Top Gun raked in over $350 million on a $15 million budget and helped make Cruise and Kilmer bonafide superstars. The latter actually didn’t want to take the role initially but was forced to by contractual obligations; it would ultimately become an iconic and important part of his career. The star is set to reprise his role for the sequel, Top Gun: Maverick.

Related: Top Gun: Maverick: Cast, Plot, Release Date, and Everything We Know

4 Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

The 2005 black comedy crime flick Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is Shane Black’s directorial debut and stars Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer as a New York thief and private eye, respectively, who become embroiled in a murder mystery. The script is partially based on the 1941 Brett Halliday novel Bodies Are Where You Find Them and was met with widespread acclaim. The duo’s comedic chemistry was praised, as was the film’s tongue-in-cheek satirical flair. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang earned Kilmer a nomination for the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor and would win the award for “Overlooked Film of the Year” from the Phoenix Film Critics Society; it is one of Kilmer’s most unique and delicious performances. Variety magazine poignantly wrote: “Once again making a diverting but insubstantial movie look better than it is, Downey, with haggard charm to burn, is winning all the way. Kilmer is riotous at times as an impeccably groomed, businesslike guy keen to assert his orientation at every opportunity.”

3 Heat

Warner Bros.

Michael Mann’s 1995 American crime drama Heat boasts an all-star ensemble cast led by Robert De Niro and Al Pacino with Val Kilmer, Tom Sizemore, and Jon Voight in supporting roles. Depicting the conflict between an LAPD detective (Pacino) and a career thief (De Niro), Heat was both a critical and financial success. Kilmer plays De Niro’s right hand man and confidante Chris Shiherlis, a ruthless and cold killer and thief who makes frequently terrible decisions, in a performance which was a change from Kilmer’s usual witty and self-assured protagonists. The film’s impressive cast, action sequences, and Mann’s direction were heralded by critics and fans alike, and the cat-and-mouse game between the two A-list leads is thrilling to watch. Heat is heavily regarded as one of the most influential films of its genre and a sequel is currently being discussed, with Mann returning.

2 The Doors

Tri-Star Pictures

Oliver Stone’s 1991 epic biographical film tells the story of the influential and iconic 1960s rock band The Doors, with a heavy focus on the life of lead singer Jim Morrison. Stone had Val Kilmer in mind to star as the brilliant frontman after watching him in the fantasy film Willow. To earn the role, the actor spent thousands of his own dollars to create an audition tape in which he dressed and sang like Morrison at different phases of his life. Kilmer also lost weight and spent six months learning and rehearsing Doors songs; when the band members heard Kilmer singing they could not tell whether the voice was the star’s or Morrison’s. The Doors was met with mixed responses from audiences and fans from the band, but Kilmer earned widespread praise for his performance and his utterly uncanny resemblance to the legendary singer. His role as the talented and tragic Morrison is one of finest performances in his long Hollywood career.

1 Tombstone

Tombstone Was Mostly Directed by Kurt Russell Claims Val Kilmer

Loosely based on events in Tombstone, Arizona including the Earp Vendetta Ride and the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, 1993’s western Tombstone stars Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer as gunslingers Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. Kilmer spent months practicing his quick-draw speed and took on a more method approach when acting as the character. Tombstone was warmly received by critics and audiences alike, while Kilmer’s portrayal of the fearless and faithful Doc Holliday earned universal acclaim. Kilmer’s range as an actor was on full display and the star took on the character with confidence and sardonic humor, with the role and the performer perfectly suited for each other. His famous wink to Billy Clanton just before the commencement of the O.K. Corral gun fight was improvised on the spot by Kilmer, further demonstrating just how creative he was in the role. He truly stole the show and was heralded by famed critic Robert Ebert as “the definitive saloon cowboy of our time.”

Val Kilmer Gets His Voice Back with AI Technology, Hear the Results
Val Kilmer Gets His Voice Back with AI Technology, Hear the Results

After battling throat cancer Val Kilmer has achieved astounding results working with Sonantic, a U.K.-based software firm that clones voices. The results are amazing.

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