We were digging though Val Kilmer's IMDB page this morning, trying to figure out when it all went wrong for the man once considered among our finest pseudo-method actors. He'd always been eccentric, of course, and it's very possible that playing Jim Morrison for Oliver Stone in "The Doors" drove him insane. But we should have seen what the next 15 years would be like when he somehow managed to out-crazy Marlon Brando in 1996's "The Island Of Dr. Moreau," perhaps the craziest movie of the last half-century. A guy able to go to the lunatic depths Kilmer did in that picture, well, it was only a matter of time until trouble found him.
The trouble came last week when US Weekly reported that Kilmer owed the government more than $500,000 in back taxes and is in danger of losing the New Mexico estate he has lived in for more than 20 years. Now that we think about it, it might be the estate that drove him crazy. Writer Chuck Klosterman, for Esquire magazine, visited Kilmer's estate in 2005 and came away with the idea that Kilmer's acting Method might have left him unable to deal with the outside world. (Oliver Stone's quoted in the piece saying, "He speaks in a way that is propelled from deep inside, and he doesn't always realize how the things he says will sound to other people." The story takes 4,000 words proving that very point.) That outside world now wants his ranch.
When you look at Kilmer's career over the last few years, it is marked by the choices of a man who needed cash. This once-super serious, selective actor has eight movies coming out this year, and since 2005 (the year of his last good film, "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang"), he has appeared in a whopping 35 movies, not including being the voice of KITT, the "Knight Rider" car. This is what Wesley Snipes, an actor with even worse money problems, did at the end as well: Say yes to everything, until the brand that is your name is no longer a brand at all. Kilmer's oddness and increasingly slack attitude toward his career -- and, to look at him, his body -- finally is taking him down, and a once-great body of work has collapsed into piffle. If Kilmer's career ended today, his best performance might still be in "Real Genius," or maybe "Top Secret." You never know when it'll go away, people.
Val Kilmer Owes $500,000 in Taxes [US Weekly]
Crazy Things Seem Normal . . . Normal Things Seem Crazy [Esquire]