Christian Bale may be the Batman of the moment , but did the star of “The Dark Knight” ever tell Tom Cruise he could be his wingman anytime? Did he do a dead-on Marlon Brando impression in a movie in which the legendary thespian actually starred? No. Those distinctions apply to Val Kilmer, who, as the youngest actor ever accepted to Juilliard back in the day, was an acting prodigy if there ever was one.
The hits have been harder to come by in recent years (his winning role in “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” didn’t get the attention it deserved), but Kilmer soldiers on. His latest film, “Felon,” in which he stars as a prison legend alongside Stephen Dorff, opens in limited release this week.
Kilmer recently stopped by MTV for a lively trip down memory lane (did you know the set of “Willow” was a hotbed of sexual activity among little people?), some rumor control (he addressed reports that he’s going to play Van Halen’s David Lee Roth in a film) and talk of a new friend he’s found in 50 Cent.
MTV: This is a dark role for you.
Val Kilmer: [Writer/director] Ric Waugh wrote a fine script. It’s very accurate about prison, which is overwhelming. Not in a good way. And I told him so, that I just didn’t want to feel like that. I didn’t want to play a guy that dark. And he kept talking and I kept being polite, saying politely, “Thank you. I really like your ideas. But I just want a sitcom. That’s where I’m at. Anything with Will Ferrell in it. That’s what I want to do.” [But] it was just too compelling.
MTV: I heard you just worked with 50 Cent on a film?
Kilmer: I worked with Mr. Curtis Jackson.
MTV: Didn’t he give you a rather extravagant gift?
Kilmer: Yeah, he did. He gave me a car.
MTV: How does that happen?!?
Kilmer: It was quite shocking. It’s a 1965 Impala convertible. He knows how close I am with my kids. And it was actually cruel that he would take over as the centerpiece of their affections with an object. [Jokingly addressing 50:] You may have been shot nine times and you may be the #1 rapper on Earth, but I know where you live. I’m going to wait until you’re asleep, and you’re going to wake up screaming, buddy. He’s still got a slug in his tongue. And yet he gets up in the morning and makes a living speaking. Amazing.
MTV: You’ve dabbled in music. Are you a better singer than Curtis is an actor?
Kilmer: I’d have to say he’s a better actor. He’s very effective. He’s a real genuine, kind man. He made a song for my kids.
MTV: There was a rumor a couple years ago that you were going to play David Lee Roth in a film. Any truth to that?
Kilmer: It won’t die! I don’t know how that started. [He puts his hands on his head.] Why?!? Nothing against the greatness of the mighty Roth but … plus I’m way too old. They need a gymnast to play that. You need a guy with funny hair.
MTV: Here’s another one I came across in my research: Oliver Stone once asked you to do heroin to prepare to play Jim Morrison?
Kilmer: Wow. I could never comment on that, which says a lot. No. I’m going to say no.
MTV: Your eyes are saying yes.
Kilmer: Oliver didn’t ask that. But I will say this: if he did back then, he probably wouldn’t remember. [Laughs.]
MTV: We talked to Warwick Davis recently, and he sounded game for “Willow 2.”
Kilmer: Do you know that more little people got together in “Willow” than any time in history?
MTV: Since “Wizard of Oz” probably.
Kilmer: Not probably. For real. It’s documented. It was crazy. There were little-people wranglers. Because when they would say cut, they would flee, and “date” in the middle of the day. Think about that!
MTV: The new Batman film opens this week. Yours [“Batman Forever”] was successful in its own right. When I say the words “bat nipples,” what do you think?
Kilmer: [He pauses.] That I was right about you from the very beginning of this interview. It’s always the quiet ones. Oliver Stone’s carved out a space for independent filmmakers and you want to know about heroin. You see? You see what I’m saying? Do you know that “Batman” is a billion-dollar franchise? And you want to know about nipples?
MTV: Don’t look at me like that. You’re judging me.
Kilmer: What was the question?
MTV: Bat nipples. What do you think about when I say that?
Kilmer: Do I think about them? I told you what I think about you asking that question.
MTV: Let’s talk about my favorite character you’ve ever played: Chris Knight in “Real Genius.”
Kilmer: Let’s just do a quick review of my filmography in your head …
MTV: Oh, come on!
Kilmer: “Real Genius,” bat nipples, heroin from “The Doors.” You didn’t even say “The Doors.” And “Willow.” If you had your way, I’d never leave this room. I’d just sweep the halls of MTV.
MTV: Two summers from now will be the 25th anniversary of “Real Genius.” What’s Chris Knight up to now?
Kilmer: Wow. Sean Lennon loved that film when he was a boy. He had a great idea for a sequel. I told Brian Grazer. It’s pretty good. Now [Chris] is a teacher because those who can’t do, teach. And the whole story revolves around a student that’s a fan. A girl’s got a crush on him, and they set up to destroy him, like the faculty [did] when he was a student.
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