So, it appears my legions of fans (or should I say, “legion of fan”) have been waiting for more about Val Kilmer. I met Kilmer at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, and there seems to be a lot more excitement than I would have thought about that. My mailbox has been inundated with questions like: What was it like to be so close to Val? What did you and Val talk about? What did Val smell like? Did you get a chance to tell Val how much you enjoyed Real Genius? Are you and Val on a first name basis? To which I will say: Brief. Nothing. I didn’t smell him. Didn’t come up. Maybe.
Now when I say I met Val Kilmer I should say I stood next to him. It was a 10 second window, all of which he spent seeming to be profoundly confused by the whole concept of Marty McFly and why my nametag said “Calvin Klein.” And that was about it. Still meeting Val Kilmer was the highlight of C2E2 for me, and a lot of people think I’m kidding when I say that, as if thinking Val Kilmer is a great actor is some sort of hipstery statement dripping with irony.
Someone joked that we were waiting in line to see the worst Batman, which is not even close to being correct. He’s actual pound for pound (and that’s not a fat joke) the most underrated Batman. George Clooney is empirically worst, so saying Kilmer is the worst isn’t even a misguided opinion, it’s simply wrong. And Adam West is only good because he’s so bad he’s good. Being ironically better doesn’t count as actually being better. And are Michael Keaton and Christian Bale really better? Did either really do a better job? Or did they just have the advantage of being in better movies?
Ultimately, what’s so great about Val Kilmer is he is everything to every sort of geek. He’s Batman for the comic book geek. He’s Madmartigan for the fantasy geek. He’s Jim Morrison for the music geek. He’s Nick Rivers for the comedy geek. He’s Chris Knight for the Real Genius geek geek. But he’s also an actor for jocks (or the jock archetype): he’s been a fighter pilot, a gunslinger, an FBI agent, a saint, a hunter, an astronaut, and a porn star. All of this meaning Kilmer is all things to all people.
He’s a chameleon. In his mind, he is whoever he’s pretending to be. That’s actually one reason Mrs. Gnards didn’t want me pointing at him. She was afraid he’d get mad and use his wily acting abilities to assume my identity. You see Val Kilmer plays me better than I’m actually me. Slouch a bit, squint a little, and all of a sudden he’s me. In fact, how do you know this isn’t Val Kilmer writing this right now? Anyone who meets Val Kilmer there’s, at least, a 50% chance that he’ll assume their identities. Meaning almost anyone could be Val Kilmer at any given time. If Val Kilmer meets 10 people per day, and he becomes 5 of those people and then those 5 Val Kilmers become 5 more Val Kilmers, Val Kilmer could spread across the earth in 13 days creating a global pandemic of Val Kilmer proportions (also not a fat joke).
However, it’s not the method acting or the roles he chooses or even the movies themselves that makes Val Kilmer great. It’s not that he’s he actually Bruce Wayne when he says he’s Batman (even though he totally is). It’s his hat.
That’s the first thing you notice about Kilmer. It’s not how much weight he’s gained; it’s how much hat he’s gained. It’s in all his new promotional material and all his new headshots. And when you see it, you say, “Why is he wearing that stupid hat?” but then he’s there and he’s wearing it and you’re so glad that he’s wearing it. This is a hat that has seen a heard of buffalo. This is a hat that has fought the arid New Mexican wind. This is a hat that will sock you in the nose for being such a punk. Val Kilmer’s not Batman, this hat is Batman.
A lot of people over look headgear, but behind every great man is a great hat: cowboy, cop, construction worker, solder. All the Village People in general really. Even an astronaut has a helmet. You may look at Kilmer in this hat and ask, “Is he losing his hair?” However, isn’t wearing a hat to cover up a bald spot a little pedestrian for America’s most eccentric actor? What you should be asking yourself is what role is Kilmer playing? Grizzled farmer? Nazi whipping archeologist? Jazz flutist? America’s most badass actor who’s so badass he can pull off a ridiculous hat? Or all of the above.
In fact, scratch all that. You shouldn’t be asking why Kilmer is wearing that hat at all. You should be asking why that hat is wearing Val Kilmer.
Val Kilmer’s Hat Through History
Let’s take a moment and track Val Kilmer’s hat through history.
And if you don't like his hat, maybe, it's his glasses...
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