He’s famous for becoming many iconic roles including Jim Morrison, Doc Holliday, Iceman, Batman and even the voice of God, but now Val Kilmer is “unbecoming” in a brand new role as great American author Mark Twain for his one man show Citizen Twain.
Val stopped in to the K-EARTH 101 Morning Show today to talk about his play that’s leaving people in stitches and receiving rave reviews for exploring the witty humor and great wisdom the author was known for.
“We know Mark Twain is funny, and I do know the play is funny, I can say in all humility, because people laugh, and that’s one of the big key factors in a comedy,” he joked.
He wrote and developed the play himself as a form of character study for a movie role about Twain that’s been in the works for ten years. As he explored deeper into the character of Twain, Val found that what made Twain one of the great storytellers and humorists in history was his love for the American spirit.
“He has a knack on hitting on the human spirit that’s still exciting today,” said Val. “I find what’s most relevant is his great love for all Americans – very non-judgmental, very empathetic guy.”
Not only does Val embody the spirit of Twain on stage, he also completely transforms into the character with “head to toe old age makeup,” which he jokes takes “two hours to do my feet” and leaves him unrecognizable to the audience. At the end of the play, Val sits for a Q&A with the audience where he sheds all the makeup, allowing the audience to be part of a rare behind the scenes experience.
“It’s a strangely satisfying thing for the audience to see me unbecome…it’s part of the interesting thing audiences haven’t seen before is an actor unbecoming a role. I’m very unbecoming in ‘Citizen Twain’…come see it.” he laughed.
Val tells us that his role as Twain has been his “most favorite” to play over his acclaimed career, but takes a look back at some of the many career-defining roles he’s been “lucky” to play in the past. One of those roles was his uncanny portrayal of Jim Morrison in The Doors biopic by Oliver Stone, which he seemed born to play.
“I fooled Oliver Stone with a recording I made, did some Jim singing and scratched up the vocals,” he said about preparing for the role. “Things that were just strange – that baritone-tenor, I just happened to be able to sing like that. It was a very lucky role, but I’ve been very lucky.”
Of course, one of his most memorable film roles was playing ‘Iceman’ alongside Tom Cruise in the Tony Scott action flick Top Gun. He talks about how at first he didn’t want to be in the movie, but with some tough convincing from Scott, Val took on one of his biggest roles of his career.
“We had lots of fun in San Diego, we had a great cast, it was that I didn’t want to do the movie period,” he explained about auditioning for Scott. “I guess I didn’t make that a secret when we met…I was probably clearly not interested in impressing him, because I didn’t want to be in it. He ran after me and jumped in front of the elevator and said ‘this is going to be great’…and he was right.”
With a proposed sequel in the works, many fans want to know, will he be reprising his famed role?
“Yeah, why not?” he said, adding with a laugh, “I got a good title…Dog Fight. I got a good idea too – I’m not telling you.”
Until the Iceman returns, fans can see Val “unbecome” Mark Twain during the limited run of Citizen Twain at the Kirk Douglas Theatre until July 28th. For tickets and show details, visit valkilmer.com or theatreinla.com for more.
Listen to our complete interview with Val Kilmer to hear more about Citizen Twain, his favorite roles and talk about a Top Gun sequel in the clip below!