The involvement of Val Kilmer in the new film Top Gun: Maverick wasn’t really a surprise to anyone but many fans had wondered about the nature of his appearance since the actor had lost his ability to speak following throat cancer treatment a few years ago. The script ended up accommodating Kilmer’s condition by drawing from his mode of communication in real life.
However, there was some brief dialogue by Kilmer’s character which was actually constructed by Artificial Intelligence. Last year, the actor had partnered with an AI company called Sonantic which had worked through hours of archival footage to create different models of Kilmer’s voice in order to construct an accurate version.
“In the end, we generated more than 40 different voice models and selected the best, highest-quality, most expressive one,” John Flynn – the CTO and cofounder of Sonantic – explained in a statement while talking about the technology. “Those new algorithms are now embedded into our voice engine, so future clients can automatically take advantage of them as well.”
Val Kilmer also expressed his admiration and claimed that the technology had become a crucial part of his life as well as his acting career. In a statement, Kilmer thanked Sonantic by saying: “I’m grateful to the entire team at Sonantic who masterfully restored my voice in a way I’ve never imagined possible.”
Elaborating on the importance of the AI, Kilmer added: “As human beings, the ability to communicate is the core of our existence and the side effects from throat cancer have made it difficult for others to understand me. The chance to narrate my story, in a voice that feels authentic and familiar, is an incredibly special gift.”