You might know actor Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday in Tombstone, Nick in Top Secret!, and Batman in Batman Forever. Looking at that handful of roles, it's clear Kilmer doesn't feel confined to one genre of film. In fact, he's among the most eccentric, interesting, and ultimately just plain odd actors out there. There are plenty of weird stories about Val Kilmer that show just how unique of a presence he is, both on- and off-screen.
There are a lot of things you didn't know about Val Kilmer. A glance at his biography shows he's a Christian Scientist, a Juilliard-trained actor, a cancer survivor, and a famed perfectionist. Oh, and he's the former owner of an entire herd of bison. And then there was the time he turned down Dirty Dancing, and the other time he said no to The Matrix.
What's Val Kilmer up to these days? He's still making movies and inspiring stories about his weirdness. Celebrate his eccentricities with this list of fascinating facts and tales about a true Hollywood original.
Kilmer once owned a 6,000 acre ranch in Santa Fe, NM, where he raised animals. During this time, his acting paychecks went to fund various projects on the ranch itself. He owned a herd of bison, including one named James Brown, "because it likes to spin around in circles and looks like the kind of beast who might beat up his wife."
Unfortunately, Kilmer angered his neighbors by referring to the stretch of New Mexico as "the homicide capital of the Southwest." He also said, "80% of the people in my county are drunk."
Twelve-year-old Kilmer landed his first gig in a television ad for hamburgers. But even that proved to be a struggle; Kilmer told the director he couldn't pretend to like the burgers in the ad. He ended up walking off set.
Kilmer's talent was apparent from a young age. When he was 17, he became the then-youngest person ever admitted to the prestigious Juilliard school of drama. He passed his advice for aspiring actors on in a Reddit AMA:
"Work till [sic] you cry yourself to sleep every night for months on end. Work so hard you pass out and wake up crying. Become a world class athlete. Read Shakespeare every day to learn about human nature. EVERY DAY. FOR DECADES. Never ever ever ever ever take a day off. And never complain. Its [sic] the best job on earth and worth it when you break thru [sic]."
And then, because he's Kilmer and he has to do something totally bizarre, he threw shade at some of his fellow actors:
"Dustin Hoffman they say couldn't act his way out of a paper bag, and I knew Kevin Spacey since he was like 15 and he was sooooooooooo bad it used to hurt my eyes. But boy did he work hard and deserves all his awards."
Kilmer was one of many actors to turn down the starring role of Neo in the first Matrix movie. The Wachowskis fought to get Johnny Depp as their lead, but Warner Brothers wanted Kilmer or Brad Pitt. After those two said no, Depp was considered, but ultimately wasn’t given the part because the studio wanted to cast Keanu Reeves. Still, it's fun to imagine Kilmer learning kung fu.