Trying (and failing) to get Robin Wright to play his girlfriend in Batman Forever, taking casting reassurances for his superhero role from Sean Penn, and admitting that the The Island of Dr. Moreau was indeed a bad, bad movie: These are the pearls of Val Kilmer’s career hindsight.
In a recent far-ranging interview with Deadline, Kilmer absolved Marlon Brando of the late actor’s famously strange behavior on the set of John Frankenheimer’s legendarily panned 1996 adaptation of H.G. Wells' 1896 classic novel.
“Poor Frankenheimer was desperate for a comeback, and he froze up with Marlon’s gutsy style of improv,” said Kilmer. “Marlon was just trying to save a poorly constructed script. I got blamed for ruining the film, even though I died two-thirds of the way thru. And the film is just as bad when I’m not in it.”
Kilmer also said it really doesn’t matter whether he’s onscreen in the movie or not: The Island of Dr. Moreau — which still lives in infamy as a landmark low point of 1990s moviemaking — is just a “bad” film.
Holy bluntness, Batman! Now that we know Kilmer probably wasn’t in a frame of mind to mince words, let’s move on to his thoughts on the Caped Crusader.
It was Sean Penn who drove home how cool it is to get to play a superhero in Batman Returns. According to Kilmer: “As Sean Penn told me when I asked him advice at the time, he said, ‘As long as you play a superhero that has a good mask, having a cape is icing on the cake. Or the cape.’”
Kilmer also revealed — and we can’t tell if he was joking — that he had wanted Penn’s then-spouse, Robin Wright, to join him onscreen as Bruce Wayne’s love interest — a role that instead fell to Nicole Kidman as Dr. Chase Meridian.
“I was trying also to get his wife to play my girlfriend,” said Kilmer. “He spoke for her and said ‘Nah, the only other role in a superhero film is the bad guy.'”
What do you think, considering how poorly Meridian comes off in the film, was Penn right?