Beginning as a stage actor from the age of 4, Kilmer became an international film star in the 1980s starting with Top Secret!, then the cult classic Real Genius, as well as the blockbuster films Top Gun and Willow. His professional career began while studying drama at The Juilliard School, where Kilmer co-authored and starred in the play How It All Began, with Ben Donenberg and other classmates, which was directed by Des McAnuff and performed at the Public Theatre at the New York Shakespeare Festival to national acclaim. He also appeared on Broadway in “The Slab Boys” with Kevin Bacon and Sean Penn. Subsequently he joined The Colorado Shakespeare Festival starring in Hamlet in 1988.
Kilmer became recognized as one of the great character actors of our time with his seamless portrayal of the iconic Jim Morrison in the critically acclaimed The Doors, and sang all the songs live in the film. A feat that has never been duplicated in any musical or rock film. Kilmer also starred in Thunderheart, for Robert DeNiro, and again teamed with Top Gun director Tony Scott to play Elvis in True Romance, written by Quentin Tarantino.
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Kilmer played Doc Holliday in the classic western Tombstone alongside Kurt Russell. He starred as Bruce Wayne/Batman in the global smash Batman Forever. He starred opposite Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in Heat. He costarred with friend Marlon Brando in The Island of Dr Moreau and alongside Michael Douglas in the thriller The Ghost and the Darkness. He also starred in the hit film, The Saint. He lent his voice to the animated film The Prince of Egypt as Moses.
Kilmer in The Missing, again worked with Willow director Ron Howard, that stared friend Cate Blanchett. Kilmer starred in the smash The Postman Always Rings Twice on the West End in London, and he co-starred with Robert Downey, Jr. in the comedy Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. He played opposite Denzel Washington in the box-office hit Déjà Vu. Kilmer again teamed with Oliver Stone in the historical classic co-starring Angelina Jolie and Colin Ferrell, Alexander the Great. On May 5, 2012, Kilmer was awarded an honorary doctorate of Fine Arts from William Woods University