Psycho Kilmer

Frankenheimer and Kilmer were a combustible match as well. One evening, Kilmer turned to the director and asked, ''You know what I think?'' To which Frankenheimer responded, ''I don't give a f---. Get off my set.'' Brando made Kilmer feel equally unwelcome, moving his trailer away from the young actor's and one-upping him in delays. ''Between Kilmer and Brando, we didn't shoot for 12 days, with all the crew just standing around,'' says a member of the production team, who adds that one day, when Kilmer was in Brando's trailer, Brando told him, ''Your problem is, you confuse your talent with the size of your paycheck.''

Nor did Kilmer earn any fans when the lit end of his cigarette met the face of a camera operator. ''Val was sort of teasing him with the end of his cigarette and burned this guy's sideburn,'' says Moreau executive producer Tim Zinnemann. ''The guy was upset, naturally.'' But one who witnessed the incident has a different opinion: ''He burned that cameraman right on his face, and no, he wasn't fooling around. It was intentional. He did apologize to the crew.''

Frankenheimer and Kilmer were united on one point: the fear that Stanley would return to the set and burn it down. (Stanley says this was based simply on a joking comment he made to the production designer.) What they didn't realize is that Stanley had been there all along — with the help of the makeup and costume people, he'd returned as a humanimal extra. ''I decided to come back as a melting bulldog,'' says Stanley. ''I didn't know Frankenheimer or the assistant directors, so they didn't recognize me. I couldn't have come that far and not seen Brando.'' At Brando's wrap party, ''I took the dog mask off and showed who I was. Kilmer came up and hugged and kissed me and said how sorry he was.''

Frankenheimer says simply, ''Will Rogers never met Val Kilmer.''

Some of Kilmer's colleagues offer measured praise for the actor. ''He was very generous,'' says Tombstone's Jarre. ''I asked Val to build up this actor's confidence before a scene. The actor was sweating, he needed it, and Val came through.'' Heat's Michael Mann says he ''had an absolutely terrific time dealing with him'' when Kilmer played a psychotic killer. ''He worked his ass off.''

Kilmer may be minding his manners now that he's lost the Batman gig. As Stanley points out, ''He doesn't have the power he once had, or thought he had. He's had to fold his tent and play it a bit more carefully.''

''Relations with Val on The Saint I can only describe as peachy,'' says director Phillip Noyce. ''Sweet and ripe and all that.'' Echoes producer David Brown, ''Val has been a complete gentleman. He's given us extra days he's not required to do by contract. He's been very adaptable.'' But, Brown acknowledges, ''most artists require someone who will listen to them — you'd better listen to a serious actor, and Val is a serious actor.''

As for whether Kilmer is serious trouble, not everyone agrees. With ''too much money and too many people blowing smoke up his ass,'' says Zinnemann, ''it's like giving an 8-year-old a machine gun and saying 'Don't fire it.''' Jarre agrees. ''Maybe there's a Jekyll-and-Hyde thing going on with him inside. Maybe he's like those children who test the limits and if parents don't stand up to them, they just become monsters.'' Or movie stars.

Originally posted May 31, 1996 Published in issue #329 May 31, 1996 Order article reprints

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