Val Kilmer’s Take On Why There’ve Been So Many Batman Actors Is Pretty Surreal

Just days before the world completely shut down, Val Kilmer sat down with the New York Times for a bizarre, yet profound profile that only Kilmer can deliver. At first, the interview serves to publicize his recent memoir and an animated film that mines his lifelong obsession with Mark Twain and Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy (it’s a whole thing), but Kilmer ends up baring his soul and reflecting on his strange Hollywood career.

One of those moments includes a look back at his short stint as Batman after both Michael Keaton and director Tim Burton refused to return for a third sequel. While Kilmer was well-received by audiences in Batman Forever, he notably didn’t return for Batman and Robin as rumors of his penchant for being “difficult” on set began to build. Kilmer tells the Times it was merely a “scheduling conflict” with his work on The Saint, but director Joel Schumacher still maintains that the actor is “psychotic.”

Nevertheless, Kilmer shared an anecdote from the set of the third Batman film, and how it caused him to have a profound realization about the character:

One day he was filming and about to take off the Batsuit when Warren Buffett and his grandkids came by. They wanted to see Batman, so Kilmer stuck around in the suit, but they didn’t want to talk to him. They wanted to try on the mask and ride in the Batmobile. He understood then that Batman isn’t meant to be a real guy. Batman is meant to be so anonymous that the person who is looking at him can see himself in him. “That’s why it’s so easy to have five or six Batmans,” he says now. “It’s not about Batman. There is no Batman.” And so what kind of thing is that to play, a person whose job is to be as nonspecific as possible. He looked good in the Batsuit, but wearing it was torture. When he took it off, he was finally free.

Is this Val Kilmer shading other Batman actors or merely exploring his unhappiness with a role? Who knows? On an even more surreal note, Kilmer keeps a Batman statue in his office, but he replaced the Caped Crusader’s head with Mark Twain, so make of that what you will.

(Via New York Times)