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What Happened to Val Kilmer’s Voice?

Titi Dokubo
May 27, 2022
02:40 P.M.
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Over three decades after Val Kilmer made his movie debut in "Top Secret!," the actor lost his voice. However, he is set to hit the big screens again this weekend, and fans are excited to hear him speak again.


Born on December 31, 1959, Val Edward Kilmer was the youngest student to be accepted to the Juilliard School drama division and took to performing on stage before going into films.

In 1986, the actor with versatile acting skills starred in "Top Gun" after being forced to because of his contract obligations, and the movie was a big hit.

Val Kilmer at the United Nations headquarters on July 20, 2019 | Source: Getty Images


The sequel, "Top Gun: Maverick," hit theaters on the last weekend of May 2022. It marked the return of Kilmer, one of Hollywood's biggest movie stars of the 1980s and 1990s.

In the long-awaited sequel, Kilmer resumes his role as Tom "Iceman" Kazansky. The movie serves as his comeback as he had stepped away from acting since 2017.



In 2015, the Hollywood actor lost his natural voice after undergoing surgery for throat cancer, and that shattered his career and permanently altered the way he communicated. He said:

"My voice as I knew it was taken away from me. People around me struggle to understand me when I'm talking."

However, things changed in late 2020 when Sonantic, a U.K.-based software company that clones voices for actors and studios, assisted Kilmer in speaking again.


Even the most well-known artificial voices modeled on actual people, such as Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa, sound unnatural.

However, a new wave of start-ups provides artificially intelligent voice-cloning services for digital assistants, video games, and film studios.



Kilmer rose to fame in 1986 when he starred in "Top Gun" but was noticed in 1991 after he delivered an astonishing performance in "The Doors." He put his baritone to good use in the movie, and they recorded his singing voice for the soundtrack.

In the 1990s, the actor starred in movies such as "Tombstone" and "Heat" and was the second actor to play Batman in the movie franchise after succeeding Michael Keaton. However, if the series is counted, he was the fifth actor to play the role.


Kilmer received a Grammy Award nomination in 2012 for Best Spoken Word Album for "The Mark of Zorro." He voiced God in "The Prince of Egypt" and Jesus in "Mary, Mother of Jesus."

The actor who turned down the lead role in "Captain America" in 1990 is currently unmarried after finalizing his divorce from his ex-wife Joanne Whalley in 1996.

Mercedes Kilmer and Val Kilmer at the 2019 annual Thespians Go Hollywood Gala on November 18, 2019 | Source: Getty Images


Their marriage lasted for eight years, and in his 2020 memoir, "I'm Your Huckleberry," Kilmer said:

"I haven't had a girlfriend in 20 years. The truth is I am lonely part of every day."

Kilmer and Whalley share two children: Mercedes, born in 1991, and Jack, born in 1995. Jack rose to fame in 2013 after starring in "Palo Alto," and in 2016, he appeared in "The Nice Guys." Meanwhile, Mercedes appeared in the 2020 film, "Paydirt," with her dad.