Val Kilmer has delivered many memorable acting performances over the course of his long and storied career. Ranging from Top Gun to his portrayal of Bruce Wayne in Batman Forever, Kilmer has a diverse filmography and the latest addition to his oeuvre was a very well-received 2021 documentary titled Val which featured unseen footage recorded by the actor himself.
However, one of Kilmer’s most popular yet divisive performances came in the 1991 biopic The Doors, a time in which he stepped up to play the role of lead singer Jim Morrison. While other directors like Quentin Tarantino had been floating the idea of making a film on the Doors for years, it was Oliver Stone who finally went ahead with the project.
Kilmer’s rendition of Morrison was dismissed as one-dimensional and was criticised by keyboardist Ray Manzarek (portrayed by Kyle MacLachlan) who thought that the film’s focus on Morrison’s life was the wrong approach. The Doors presented a vision which was riddled with historical inaccuracies and many felt that Stone’s depiction of Morrison as a bonafide sociopath was uninteresting and flawed.
However, that role was a very demanding one for Kilmer who devoted a lot of his resources while preparing for the film. Stone had envisioned Kilmer as Morrison ever since he saw Willow and the actor did his best to fill the giant shoes, learning around 50 songs by heart and spending a lot of time with the band’s producer Paul A. Rothchild in order to learn more about personal anecdotes.
For his audition tape, Kilmer filmed himself for eight minutes while he acted as the various personas that Morrison had adopted throughout his career. By the end, he was so obsessed with the band’s music and the life of Morrison that he had to go into therapy after the conclusion of the production process to recover properly.
“I didn’t get seduced into his style of living but had to and needed to – for the role – to be as disciplined as he was in these escapades,” Kilmer explained while talking about his own mindset for the role. “He was a very disciplined drinker as much as he was a disciplined artist. I mean, he was looking for inspiration every second of the day.”
Watch Val Kilmer’s discussions about The Doors below.