Val Kilmer, 62, is a Hollywood superstar best known for his roles in Top Gun, Real Genius, Willow, The Doors, The Ghost and the Darkness, and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. His role, Tom “Iceman” Kazansky, reappears in Top Gun: Maverick, as does increased interest in the actor.
But Val’s return to the franchise hasn’t been easy; the actor was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2015, and the struggle nearly killed him in his acting career.
Val was diagnosed with throat cancer, but according to the Alexander actor, the lump was not malignant. After being hospitalised at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, California, for neck bleeding, he took to social media to discuss his condition and denied having a tumour.
In January 2015, he expressed his gratitude on Facebook for all the overwhelming support. “However, I’ve never had a tumour, tumour surgery, or any other type of surgery. I had a disease, and the UCLA ICU’s watchful eye was the ideal place to receive treatment.”
“Sensitive and caring friends, as well as those who are aware of my spiritual beliefs, have gone above and beyond that there is as little useless conversation and gossip as possible. As they say, I’m hoping for a quick return to the boards. Thank you, and may God bless you everyone. Val, with genuine affection and love.”
Michael Douglas’ health rumours became more widespread after the actor made comments that appeared to corroborate the diagnosis. Val revealed his struggle with throat cancer in 2017 during an AMA on Reddit.
“He was probably trying to help me because journalists inevitably questioned where I was these days, and I did have cancer healing,” Val said in response to a fan’s direct question about Michael’s words. My tongue remains swollen despite regular recuperation. People believe I’m still ill since I don’t sound like myself.”
A tracheotomy seriously harmed the actor’s voice after he suffered agonising rounds of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. He came on Good Morning America in April 2020 with a noticeably different voice, explaining that he had been “diagnosed with throat cancer, which cured pretty swiftly.” The actor cracked a joke when asked what he missed most about his iconic voice. “That I had,” he chuckled.
Val’s children, Mercedes and Jack Kilmer worked tirelessly on the brave 2021 documentary about his battle with throat cancer. Sonantic, a UK-based AI-powered voice-cloning firm, miraculously recovered his previous voice the same year. The results are stunning. Kilmer utilised the AI voice in a Sonantic video clip to announce, “My voice as I knew it was taken away from me.” “The people around me are having trouble understanding what I’m saying. Despite everything, I believe I am still the same person.
“The same creative spirit remains.” “A soul that confidently imagines concepts and stories, but I can now express myself once more, share these ideas with you, and again disclose this element of me. I was only skulking around an aspect that was never truly lost.”
Despite being in remission from throat cancer, Val Kilmer thinks the event altered him. “I was too serious,” he said of his mental state before being diagnosed with cancer in 2017. “I’d become annoyed when Oscars and praises didn’t come my way,” he admits.
Val’s co-director, Ting Poo, agrees that he has evolved. “You wouldn’t expect someone of his stature and renown to be so vain,” she observed. “There was never any of the pretence or precaution that renowned individuals have to construct around themselves. Being around folks like them is humbling.”