Iceman. Batman. Mark Twain. After his one-man, Samuel Clemens-tributing play this weekend, these're all things you can call Val Kilmer. In a 20min interview in which your favorite shirtless-volleyball-playing email newsletter had just enough willpower to resist also calling him The Sherpa from Entourage, Val talked about what role homeless people recognize him for, his worst films, and... the bathroom combo at Starbucks.
- To get into the part, did you study Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain? How do you even compete with those eyebrows?
- With Twain's eyebrows or Holbrook's eyebrows?
- Whichever you feel you have to compete with.
- Well, Twain's ones are just mythic. I don't know how he wasn't airborne. [Editor's Note: Unlike wings, which provide a propulsive thrust that generates aerodynamic lift, Mark Twain's eyebrows actually offer no means for buoyant, ballistic, aerodynamic, or mechanical flight.]
- Have you tried going out in the streets of LA as Mark Twain yet?
- I have. We walked around the Promenade, but to have an effective reaction you have to be in a community that's aware of its surroundings, and that didn't really happen. The makeup was so good that nobody noticed. It didn't draw a single stir except for a homeless man who didn't recognize Mark Twain. He just looked up at me dressed as an old man and said, "Tombstone!".
- You've become markedly associated with this idea of "The West". Do you feel like there's still anything very Western about LA itself?
- Oh, sure. All you have to do is find a little patch of Malibu that's not owned by a multimillionaire producer and you'll see a little cactus popping out. All this plush green is artificially pumped-in water... [Kilmer continues for three minutes about the gold rush, the tragic fate of the Native Americans who once lived in California, the Spaniards, and the wild west spirit. It's all very moving. At this point he's speaking in his Mark Twain voice, in regards to his westward journey] ... "Oh yeah. Then I joined the Confederation and I fought hard! For two weeks I ran and ran and ran. When I looked up I was halfway over the Rocky Mountains and it was too late to correct the maneuver!"
- Totally. You took the words right out of our mouth. So we hear you've also got a Twain movie in the works that'll tackle his worst work ever. Given that you've got a large body to draw from yourself, what stands out to you as your worst work ever?
- Well, most of the movies I've made in the last six or seven years, I'd put them in one category as not my finest hour. [E.N.: Technically, when combined, Spartan, Stateside, Alexander, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Moscow Zero, 10th & Wolf, Played, Summer Love, Deja Vu, The Ten Commandments: The Musical, West Texas Lullaby, Conspiracy, Columbus Day, Felon, 2:22, The Steam Experiment, American Cowslip, The Thaw, The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans, Hardwired, Double Identity, Bloodworth, MacGruber, The Traveler, Gun, Deep in the Heart, 5 Days of War, Kill the Irishman, Twixt, Breathless, and Riddle add up to considerably more than an hour]
- What's your coffee order at Starbucks?
- I don't drink coffee. My order at a Starbucks is, "What's the combination to the restroom, please?"
- If you were limited to hanging out in one LA 'hood, which would it be?
- God. That's the most dreadful question I've ever been asked.
No, you're welcome, Val Kilmer.