Today marked the limited release (ahead of a streaming debut on August 6) of Amazon’s new documentary Val, in which Val Kilmer tells his life’s story, through both his own words, and decades’ worth of home video footage. (Although the actual narration of the film comes largely from Kilmer’s son, Jack, due to speaking difficulties Kilmer experiences due to being diagnosed with throat cancer a few years back.) Stories from the documentary are already starting to filter back—including Kilmer’s assertion that he really didn’t want to star opposite Tom Cruise in Top Gun, the film that helped elevate him from “That goofy kid from Top Secret! and Real Genius” into a certified blockbuster star.
This is per the New York Post, which reports that Kilmer apparently found the script for the film—which, in case it’s been a minute, is about hyper-masculine fighter pilot trainees playing volleyball at each other—“silly.” (To each their own, we guess.) He also wasn’t wild about the “warmongering” nature of Tony Scott’s film, steeped as it is in virulent strain of Cold War era machismo. “But,” he notes, “I was under contract with the studio, so I didn’t really have a choice.”
Kilmer does note that he tried to bring some of his method acting beliefs to the film, albeit in ways that other people on set may not have enjoyed. “I would purposely play up the rivalry between Tom’s character and mine off screen as well,” he notes in the documentary, up to the point that Cruise and Anthony Edwards apparently maintained their distance from Kilmer and his crew even when the cameras weren’t rolling.
All of which ultimately, obviously, worked out, given that Top Gun became the highest grossing film of 1986, and Kilmer became so famous that he got to be in Willow—the dream of any young actor of that, or any, era.
Val arrives on Amazon on August 6; you can read our review of the film here.