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Val Kilmer opens up about surviving throat cancer: 'I want to share my story more than ever'

Val Kilmer courageously takes fans through never-before-seen chronicles of his life, career, and cancer battle in the new Amazon Original Documentary 'Val.'

Val Kilmer opens up about surviving throat cancer: 'I want to share my story more than ever'
Cover Image Source: Actor Val Kilmer attends the "Fourth Dimension" premiere during the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival at the AMC Lowes Village on April 24, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Getty Images)

In a moving and intimate new Amazon Studios film, Val Kilmer courageously takes fans through never-before-seen chronicles of his life, career, and cancer battle. The documentary—which comes six years after the Top Gun star was diagnosed with throat cancer, went through radiation, chemotherapy treatments, and a life-changing tracheostomy that permanently damaged his vocal cords—features a treasure trove of Kilmer's personal video footage from over the years. "Now that it's more difficult to speak, I want to tell my story more than ever," Kilmer says in the film titled Val.


According to PEOPLE, Val is co-directed by Leo Scott and Ting Poo and produced by Kilmer, his son Jack, 26, and his daughter Mercedes, 29. It received a standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival and features behind the scenes of the star's most popular films and candid moments from Kilmer about coping with his physical limitations in the documentary. Jack also reads his father's words to narrate much of the film. "I obviously am sounding much worse than I feel," Kilmer's thin and raspy voice is heard saying in the film. "I can't speak without plugging this hole [in his throat]. You have to make the choice to breathe or to eat."


The 61-year-old, who now has his meals through a feeding tube, added: "It's an obstacle that is very present with whoever sees me." Filmmakers Scott and Poo revealed that they were inspired to pursue the documentary with Kilmer after hearing about the actor's incredible personal film archive and getting to know the man himself. "We approached him three years ago," said Scott. "I'd worked with him on his 'Cinema Twain' project and when he couldn't tour the play 'Citizen Twain,' he was touring a film of the play, so I was working with him on that and some other projects too, archiving his footage."


Poo explained that she respects how open Kilmer was to collaborate and show them all facets of his personal and professional life without any inhibitions. "He doesn't have the vanity that you would expect from someone of his fame and celebrity. There was never any of that kind of artifice or protection that people who are really famous have to put up around themselves," she said. "It's humbling to be around that. He's such a layered person, there's the childlike playfulness, but then there's also the deep wisdom of somebody who's been on a spiritual path their whole life at the same time. He's a lot of opposites that make him incredibly interesting, and it's kind of why our film is so interesting."


"He's continued to express himself creatively," said Scott. "He makes incredible pieces of art. He's always positive and is not someone who has self-pity. He has evolved like all of us, but in the material from the past [in the documentary], you see so many of the same kind of themes: he's always been a spiritual person, he's always been incredibly creative, super hilarious and he's always been so besotted with his children, and all of that remains."


Speaking of his future in Val, Kilmer shared that he's looking forward to whatever is in store for him. "I have behaved bizarrely to some. I deny none of this and have no regrets because I have lost and found parts of myself that I never knew existed," the actor says in the film. "I am blessed." Val is currently streaming on Prime Video.


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