Val Kilmer Has a Long History of On-Set Feuds and Dramas — a Look at His Difficult Reputation

Edduin Carvajal
Aug 08, 2020
12:00 P.M.
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Actor Val Kilmer, best known for his portrayal of Jim Morrison in "The Doors," has had a "difficult" reputation in the entertainment industry for years. Some directors have even refused to work with him.


Born in 1959, Kilmer has been working in Hollywood since the mid-80s when he took a small role in "Top Secret!" From that point on, he kept landing parts on different projects, including "The Island of Dr. Moreau" and "Barman Forever."

"I have a reputation for being difficult. But only with stupid people."

Val Kilmer on September 12, 2011 in Toronto, Canada | Photo: Getty Images



Coincidentally or not, the directors of those last two films negatively described Kilmer. Richard Stanley, who worked with the actor for only three days in "The Island of Dr. Moreau" before being fired, said that, as soon as Kilmer arrived on set, an argument would happen.

Stanley's replacement was John Frankenheimer, and he also admitted that he didn't like Kilmer nor his work ethic. Frankenheimer even pointed out that he never wanted to work with the actor again.


Joel Schumacher, "Batman Forever" director, labeled Val Kilmer as "childish and impossible." One of the many incidents in his prolific career took place on the set of "Moreau" when he burned a cameraman with a cigarette.

Years later, while working in "Tombstone," Kilmer and the film's first director, Kevin Jarre, were talking about his character, Doc Holliday.


Then, a stand-in interrupted them to tell Jarre that they found a colorful locust. Kilmer grabbed the locust and ate it. He then said to Jarre:

"As you know, I have a reputation for being difficult. But only with stupid people."



However, "Tombstone" producer James Jacks, pointed out that Kilmer "behaved well" while working on the movie, adding that he would be "happy" to work with him again.

"The Doors" director Oliver Stone didn't have reasons to complain, either. He admitted, though, that Kilmer was "passionate" about his work, which is probably why he gives it the "wrong approach."


Stone and Jarre agreed on the fact that Kilmer has a "side." That side became evident during the filming of "The Real McCoy," when the actor wanted to alter a scene to his specifications, but director Russell Mulcahy didn't want to. Val Kilmer's response? He fired his prop gun at a prop car.

With "Batman Forever" director Joel Schumacher, things got heated, as well. Kilmer was "irrational" with different members of the crew, so Schumacher told him that his behavior would not be tolerated.


For the following two weeks, the actor didn't talk to Schumacher, something that the director described as "bliss."

Although they completed the movie, Kilmer didn't come back for "Batman and Robin." Depending on who is telling the story, said Schumacher, Kilmer "sort of quit" or the production "sort of fired him."



Back in 2017, Val Kilmer explained the reason behind his "difficult" reputation in a Reddit Q&A. He pointed out that he wasn't the type of actor who flattered or reassured the financier of his movies. He added:

"I like to take risks, and this often gave the impression I was willing to risk their money not being returned, which was foolish of me. I understand that now."


Kilmer also said that lead actors are frequently why films are made, which is why it's "only fair" to make people feel good about their jobs. However, he was "often unhappy" trying to make movies better.

Unfortunately, Val Kilmer was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2015, and earlier this year, he underwent a tracheotomy to help him breathe. Nowadays, he is still active in the acting industry and is expected to appear in films like "Paydirt" and "Top Gun: Maverick."