What is wrong with Val Kilmer’s health? Those who have watched the blockbuster movie “Top Gun: Maverick” may be surprised by Val Kilmer’s cameo appearance, reprising his role as Iceman. (Stop reading if you don’t want a few spoilers for the movie, although there won’t be many.)
In the movie, Iceman has emerged as a member of the military’s top brass and has positioned himself as Maverick’s protector. However, when Maverick goes to visit Tom “Iceman” Kazansky at his home, the character’s wife warns him that he has difficulty speaking. Iceman isn’t long for the world.
The physical appearance of Kilmer in this movie may come as a surprise to people not familiar with the actor’s health woes. To dive deep into Kilmer’s life today, people can watch a recent documentary on the actor that explains it. The documentary is called “Val.”
Here’s what you need to know:
Kilmer Is a Throat Cancer Survivor
According to IndieWire, Kilmer is a throat cancer survivor.
He almost entirely lost his voice through chemotherapy for cancer and a tracheotomy, New York Times Magazine reported.
According to GQ, Kilmer was diagnosed with cancer in 2014. He requires a feeding tube to eat. In 2020, he revealed that he had been cancer-free for four years, GQ reported.
In August 2021, Kilmer’s children spoke to ExtraTV about his cancer recovery.
“He’s doing well… Still recovering… The recovery process is just as grueling as the actual disease,” Kilmer’s daughter Mercedes told the outlet.
His son Jack added, “Everyone has been so supportive; it makes me emotional. It’s really beautiful to see people come together.”
Tom Cruise Insisted That Kilmer Appear in Top Gun: Maverick
Top Gun producer Jerry Bruckheimer told People Magazine that Tom Cruise “really wanted” Kilmer in the Top Gun sequel.
“He said, ‘We have to have Val, we have to have him back. We have to have him in the film,'” Bruckheimer told the magazine. “And he was the driving force. We all wanted him, but Tom was really adamant that if he’s going to make another Top Gun, Val had to be in it.”
Kilmer’s son Jack told People, “They honor the legacy of Iceman, and he was so stoked by it.”
In the movie, Iceman communicates by typing, but he does voice a line. Before the movie, Kilmer reprised his voice using archival footage and through artificial intelligence, according to Variety. However, the site reports that the studio denied AI was used in “Top Gun: Maverick,” despite reports to the contrary.
The Documentary Reveals That Kilmer Struggles to Speak Today Without Help
The documentary reveals that Kilmer can only speak by pressing a device that is attached to his throat. As a result, in the documentary, his son, Jack, gives Kilmer voice for much of the film.
The movie doesn’t dig deep into Kilmer’s health woes. Rather, it focuses on his indomitable spirit and walks viewers through his life, including a childhood tragedy involving his brother, a failed marriage, his artistic choices and conflicts with directors.
The documentary is available on Amazon Prime. Kilmer today lives a life focused on his fans (making appearances and signing autographs all over the country) and his children, now grown. The documentary’s strong suit is all of its archival footage, shot by Kilmer himself over the years. Whether it’s a dance party by Top Gun stars in the 1980s or Marlon Brandon lying in a hammock, the footage provides a fresh glimpse into Hollywood.
“We wanted to give people access to the kind of person that he is that they might not know, and give context for the things that have driven him as an actor and artist his entire life, to contextualize what people might think they know about him, one of the filmmakers, Ting Poo, told IndieWire.