Val Kilmer has revealed that he delved so deep into the character of Ice Man in Top Gun, that he was visited by the ghost of the character's father in his trailer on set.
In excerpts from his new memoir I’m Your Huckleberry, published on the Daily Beast, Kilmer explains how an initial disdain for the project soon developed into full-blown thespian obsession.
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In fact, he tried not to get the role in his audition with director Tony Scott.
“I didn’t care about the film,” Kilmer writes. “The story didn’t interest me. I showed up looking the fool, or the goon. I wore oversize gonky Australian shorts in nausea green. I read the lines indifferently. And yet, amazingly, I was told I had the part. I felt more deflated than inflated. I had to get out of there.”
But, he says, Scott's passion for the project turned him around.
“I actually found myself looking deeply into this guy. What made him arrogant? The question intrigued me. I thought about it for long stretches of time. Even dreamed about it,” Kilmer goes on.
“And then, without any forethought, I applied whatever I had learned (or unlearned) at THE Juilliard School, whatever I had read of Stanislavski and Suzuki, whatever natural instincts I had, and brought it all to bear in Tom 'Iceman' Kazansky.
“I became so obsessed that at one point in my trailer I actually saw—the way Macbeth saw the ghost of Banquo—Iceman’s father, the man (my imagination told me) who had ignored his son to the point where his son was driven to prove himself as the absolute ideal man.
“So real was the elder Mr. Kazansky that I saw him take a chunk of ice and chew on it like a wild dog (which inspired my improvised ice-chewing and teeth-chomping moment in the film).”
The role proved to be Kilmer's breakthrough, leading to movies like Willow, The Doors, Tombstone and Heat.
As for the forthcoming sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, Kilmer admits he ‘begged’ to be in it.
“The producers went for it. Cruise went for it. Cruise couldn’t have been cooler. … Tom and I took up where we left off. The reunion felt great,” he writes.
The movie is currently scheduled for release in December.