More than 25 years after appearing in 1995’s Batman Forever, Val Kilmer is opening up about why he quit playing the Dark Knight. Kilmer’s time as the Dark Knight was short-lived, appearing in the Joel Schumacher-directed feature alongside Chris O’Donnell as Robin, Tommy Lee Jones as Harvey Dent/Two-Face, Jim Carrey as The Riddler, and Nicole Kidman as Dr. Chase Meridian.
Before Kilmer’s comments were published earlier this week in a lengthy New York Times profile, the only side of the story we had to go by were allusions to Kilmer maybe being difficult to work with. Schumacher’s comments from 2017 via The Hollywood Reporter include his own explanation for why Kilmer quit playing Batman: “He wanted to do Island of Doctor Moreau because Marlon Brando was going to be in it. So he dropped us at the eleventh hour.” Now, Kilmer is setting the record straight about his departure from Batman, helping to clarify the exact moment he wanted to leave the role.
While speaking with NYT’s Taffy Brodesser-Akner, Kilmer recalled a moment which made it clear to him he didn’t want to play Batman after Batman Forever. Per Kilmer, one day in between filming, he stayed in costume because he heard visitors were coming to set who wanted to see him in his costume. Those visitors turned out to be Warren Buffet and his grandchildren, who apparently were less interested in seeing Kilmer all suited and booted and more interested in looking the sets and props, including the Batmobile. Kilmer told Brodesser-Akner that this moment made him realize it doesn’t matter who is portraying Batman: “That’s why it’s so easy to have five or six Batmans. It’s not about Batman. There is no Batman.”
Kilmer also went on to address those past stories which have circulated about being difficult to work with and possibly losing work because of that reputation. He shared, “Everyone has to work out their own salvation. How to live and by what morality, and I found that the part that I feel bad about is hurting somebody in the process.”
Kilmer’s candor on the subject of leaving Batman will no doubt prove invaluable to fans looking to fill out their understanding of the actor’s time playing Batman. While a number of A-listers tackled the role of Batman after Kilmer — George Clooney, Ben Affleck, Christian Bale, and soon, Robert Pattinson — it’s the Batman Forever alum’s contributions to the role and time playing the Dark Knight which remain a unique moment in the character’s movie history.
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