When Val Kilmer disappeared from the film scene a few years ago, rumors that he was battling with cancer began to surface, rumors which Kilmer initially denied. In April, the “Tombstone” star finally admitted in an AMA on Reddit that he had in fact been diagnosed with cancer but said he was “healing.” In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter published this week, the ’80s and ’90s superstar opened up about his two-year bout with cancer that took a severe toll on his body, including the severe impairment of his voice.
THR recently sat down with Kilmer, 57, and his two children from his marriage with British actress Joanne Whalley, Mercedes, 26, and Jack, 22, at the actor’s home in Brentwood, California for the publication’s “Hollywood Legacies” issue. As a video from the interview posted by THR shows (below), Kilmer’s battle with cancer, which included chemo and an operation on his trachea, has left him with a raspy voice, slurred speech and shortened breath — but he also said it gave him a better perspective on what really matters.
“I was too serious,” Kilmer told THR. “I’d get upset when things like Oscars and recognition failed to come my way.”
Asked if an Oscar was something he’d always wanted, he replied, “I would like to have more Oscars than anybody. Meryl Streep must feel pretty good, you know? It must feel nice to know that everyone loves her. It’s about being loved.”
But the “love” that fame brings, suggested the actor, is ultimately empty. “Fame is sort of a mess,” he said, when discussing his children’s acting pursuits. “You get treated differently, but it doesn’t have anything to do with who you actually are.”
Kilmer said his faith has helped him during his fight with cancer. THR notes that many of Kilmer’s personal art projects, which are “spilling from every crevice” of his home, featured a “GOD” stencil as a recurring motif.
Kilmer is a Christian Scientist, a metaphysical religious movement that teaches that sickness is a matter of faith rather than a physical reality and thus should be treated with prayer rather than medicine. As Kilmer confirmed to THR, however, he eventually chose to undergo chemo and tracheal surgery.
Below is the video THR produced from the sit-down with Kilmer and his children that highlights the actor’s close relationship with his kids as well as the significant physical impact the years-long struggle with cancer had on the star: