While Goose felt the “need for speed” in “Top Gun,” Val Kilmer felt the need to tell his memorable life story through a new documentary featuring footage from the past four decades.
Amazon Studios released the official trailer for the new documentary “Val” on Tuesday ahead of its world premiere at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival.
For over 40 years, Kilmer – who starred in “Top Secret!” from 1984! and “Real Genius” from 1985 – personally filmed and documented his life and art through video. The 61-year-old has racked up thousands of hours of footage, including 16mm home movies and clips from his time shooting blockbuster movies like “Top Gun”, “The Doors” and “Batman Forever” “.
According to the official film synopsis from Amazon Studios, “This raw, extremely original and flawless documentary reveals a life lived to the extreme and a heart-filled, sometimes hilarious look at what it means to be an artist and a complex man. . “
Directors Leo Scott and Ting Poo spent over nine months digitizing Kilmer’s home videos for use in the documentary. He shot over 200 hours of footage while working on the 2000 film “Red Planet,” Poo told IndieWire.
“It was gold, like a treasure that you are lucky enough to meet in your career,” Poo added.
The documentary provides a first-person account of the actor’s rise to Hollywood stardom, followed by a few bumpy years. The shots are taken from his early years as a promising actor, his conflict-laden acting career in which he details his creative vision and his tragic battle with throat cancer.
In 2017, Kilmer confirmed he had cancer after months of denying he was sick. Actor and friend Michael Douglas mentioned Kilmer was battling throat cancer, but Kilmer called him “uninformed.” Eventually, however, it came clean.
“[Douglas] was probably trying to help me because the press probably asked me where I was these days, and I had a cure from cancer, but my tongue is still swollen as the healing is constant, ”he said. -he writes. “Because I don’t look normal, but people think I might still be under the bad weather.”
“Val” and its trailer date back to Kilmer’s childhood, when his brother Wesley – who died of a seizure when Kilmer was still a child – filmed Val in a number of 8mm films.
“His brother was really a budding genius director who could possibly have become one of the greats,” Scott told IndieWire. “There were just heaps and heaps of these reels that weren’t transferred… It was really special digging up all these things and then putting these animations together so that Val could see them for the first time.”
The documentary also touches on his passion projects as an undergraduate student at Juilliard. Pictures reveal the actor in a dressing room for his 1983 Broadway debut in “Slab Boys,” where he starred in the shadow of Sean Penn and Kevin Bacon.
The documentary also taps into his camaraderie with Tom Cruise on “Top Gun”, as well as his experiences alongside Marlon Brando on the disastrous 1996 film “The Island of Dr. Moreau”. In his 2020 memoir, “I Am Your Huckleberry: A Memoir,” Kilmer admitted he didn’t even want to star in “Top Gun,” although he came to love it.
“I didn’t want the role,” he wrote. “I didn’t care about the movie. The story did not interest me. My agent, who also represented Tom Cruise, basically tortured me until at least one encounter [director] Tony Scott, saying. . . he was completely obsessed with me.
The documentary later features his project “Cinema Twain”, a one-man show about American author Mark Twain. Kilmer intended to turn the series into his directorial debut, but that was postponed due to his health concerns when his cancer kicked in.
Viewers also get a glimpse of Kilmer’s current endeavors such as painting and other creative endeavors.
The trailer, which includes clips from his childhood through to his current recovery from throat cancer, opens: “Hi, my name is Val. I don’t do this every time I interview I take you home, I don’t. But I will do it.
“I lived a magical life and captured a lot of it,” the trailer continues. “I was the first guy I knew to own a video camera. “
The trailer continues with a storytelling in which he reveals that it’s hard to speak and be understood, but he wants to tell his story more than ever.
“I behaved badly,” he says in the trailer. “I behaved courageously, strangely for some… I see myself as a sensitive and intelligent human being but with the soul of a clown.”
“Val always said he didn’t think of it as a documentary,” Scott told IndieWire. “He saw it as a movie starring Val Kilmer as the main character in his life story, and we all lined up with that sentiment.”
Despite his illness, Val Kilmer is back in action with Tom Cruise on “Top Gun: Maverick”, the sequel to Jerry Bruckheimer’s hit 1986 production. The Paramount movie will be released on November 19.
Amazon Studios will release “Val” in theaters on July 23. The documentary will begin airing August 6 on Amazon Prime Video.