What happened to Val Kilmer? 'Top Gun' star is battling serious health issues

Kilmer's new documentary which is out on July 23 will tell the story of the elusive actor after he's survived throat cancer. Here's what to know

                            What happened to Val Kilmer? 'Top Gun' star is battling serious health issues
Val Kilmer with a billboard of his newly released documentary 'Val' (Instagram)

Val Kilmer, once the heartthrob of millions currently looks far from his his old self. Kilmer was at the top in the '90s in terms of popularity in Hollywood which further skyrocketed with his every release. His portrayal of Jim Morrison in the singer-songwriter's biography 'The Doors' was one of his finest works but the aftermath of completing the job was filled with tragedy for Kilmer. He had to get therapy because shaking off the character after spending a year dressing like Morrison, listening to his music and going about life like the Lizard King was hard to forget. 

Kilmer had studied Morrison down to the T. So much so that fans had a hard time believing it wasn't the musician himself who played himself in 'The Doors'. “It still boggles me to this day to seeing people with a tattoo of me playing him and not knowing it isn't Jim,” Kilmer replied to a fan on Reddit. “Happens more than you think.” However, the actor today is not how fans remembered him and his shockingly transformed self is what audiences will see in a new documentary titled 'Val' which is out in theaters on July 23 and will be available for Amazon Prime Video users by August 6. 


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Val Kilmer attends the Simply Shakespeare's Live Read of "The Merchant Of Venice" at Walt Disney Concert Hall on October 28, 2019 in Los Angeles, California (Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)

What happened to Val Kilmer?

In an interview in 2016, Catherine Zeta Jones's husband and throat cancer survivor Michael Douglas had claimed Kilmer was suffering from the same thing as him. Douglas and Kilmer had acted alongside each other in a 1996 movie 'The Ghost and the Darkness' and he made the revelation during a Q&A. “The picture didn’t turn out as well as I hoped, but I had a wonderful time. Val was a wonderful guy who is dealing with exactly what I had, and things don’t look too good for him.”

Douglas further added, “My prayers are with him. That’s why you haven’t heard too much from Val lately.” Rumors about Kilmer not being in his best, health-wise, first started in 2015 after the 'Top Gun' villain was seen with what looked to be a tracheostomy tube around his neck. He was hospitalized in January that year after which he kept his neck covered with scarves and bandanas. In October that year, he had denied all rumors about him being unwell through his Facebook page. “Thank you all for your love and support. There’s a rumor I’m unwell again and in hospital which is totally untrue. I was in to verify I have no tumor or infection of any kind which was verified by the very caring experts at UCLA,” he wrote on Facebook at the time.

Val Kilmer attends the Monster Energy $50K Charity Challenge Celebrity Basketball Game at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion on July 08, 2019 in Westwood, California (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)

“I have not had a tumor, or a tumor operations, or any operation I had a complication where the best way to receive care was to stay under the watchful eye of the UCLA ICU,” Kilmer told fans after he was released from the hospital in February 2015, a month after being admitted. By 2018, he was open about his illness. Fast forward to today, he is living with a hole in his throat through which he breathes and he talks using a voice box. The documentary is narrated by his son Jack Kilmer 

“My name is Val Kilmer. I’m an actor,” Jack says in the beginning. “I was recently diagnosed with throat cancer. Though I healed quickly from the extensive radiation and chemotherapy, what followed has left my voice impaired. I’m still recovering, and it’s difficult to talk and be understood," he adds. Apart from Jack narrating his father's life, the documentary will also feature footage from tapes Kilmer had shot since he was a young child living in San Fernando Valley, California. Apart from candid footage from various audition tapes, Kilmer shot to behind the scenes from the movies he has acted in, the documentary will also have scenes where his former co-stars like Kevin Bacon and Sean Penn chat away like no one is hearing. 

'Val' is out in theaters on Friday, July 23 and viewers will also be able to catch the movie on Amazon Prime Video starting August 6.