Kilmer was originally a stage actor. He found fame after appearances in comedy films, starting with Top Secret! (1984) and Real Genius (1985), Top Gun (1986), and the fantasy film Willow (1988).
Kilmer is perhaps best-known for playing real-life figures in movies, including Jim Morrison in The Doors (1991), an apparition of Elvis Presley in True Romance (1993), Doc Holliday in Tombstone (1993), John H. Patterson in The Ghost and the Darkness (1996), John Holmes in Wonderland (2003), and Philip II of Macedon in Alexander (2004) among others. He is also known for his portrayals of Bruce Wayne/Batman in Batman Forever (1995), and Simon Templar in The Saint (1997). Kilmer has also done voice acting on several projects; most notably Moses in the animated film The Prince of Egypt (1998) and Walker Sloan in the video game Spider-Man: Edge of Time (2011).
His performances as Chris in Heat (1995) and "Gay Perry" in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) earned him nominations for Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Kilmer is also author of the book I'm Your Huckleberry: A Memoir, published in 2020. In 2021, Val, a documentary covering Kilmer's life, was released.
He spoofed his role in an episode of Saturday Night Live titled Iceman: the Later Years, where Iceman is now retired from the Navy and in training for a career as a second officer on a commercial airliner. Snippets of Danger Zone were interspersed with scenes of crew working on planes and unloading luggage. The captain and first officer of the airliner treat their jobs as routine and professional, and seem to have no understanding of the gung-ho attitude that Iceman had at Top Gun. After landing the plane, Iceman suggests they exercise by playing volleyball, whereas the others say they must prepare for a connecting flight to Fresno and another says he is going home to his wife and children. Kilmer ends the skit by remarking "You guys are dangerous!"
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