The duo team up to talk about their latest project
Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr. both have a notorious reputation in Hollywood. More so than anyone else at the moment, save for Mickey Rourke and maybe Tom Sizemore. So, it only makes sense that someone would coral them into the same motion picture as requisite "buddies". That someone was Shane Black, most famous for his million dollar screenplays Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout, and The Long Kiss Goodnight.
Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang is Black's first stab at directing, and it only makes sense that he would take a risk on these two "hard to work with" actors. Surprising to some, they were well behaved gentleman on the set. The same can't be said for their appearance at last Saturday's press junket.
A transcript of this exchange (which is offered below so that we'll get more hits on Google) doesn't do the very funny conversation between these two Hollywood legends justice. If you really want to have a good laugh, listen to the downloadable audio file. It's priceless. And it's right here in full for your enjoyment...
Or, read on...
Val Kilmer: I just accused Tom Cruise of taking Michelle to meetings. I didn't realize it was on tape.
Robert Downey Jr.: Wait a minute. With everything else that's occurred, you think that's going to tip the scale? You're Val Kilmer. I don't think it matters.
Val Kilmer: Katie might be mad at me...I got compared to Mickey Rourke.
Val Kilmer: For badness. Mickey has actually tired to kill people.
You've never done that.
Val Kilmer: I've never been in a fight in my life.
Who compared you to Mickey Rourke?
Val Kilmer: Someone from the Hollywood Foreign Press. This tape recorder is not rolling. Do you want me to make it go? Push the little red button there.
Robert Downey Jr.: For someone who is supposed to be so disassociated, he's incredibly observant, isn't he? All right, I don't want any trouble...
Val Kilmer: (into microphone after turning it on) I love Joel Silver. I love Robert. I love Shane Black.
Robert Downey Jr.: Yeah, Robert seems to have mellowed out a lot, until he caught that battery pitch at the Four Seasons over nothing.
Where did you guys ever met?
Val Kilmer: I'm tired of talking. Let's make up a new story. I was in Bermuda.
Robert Downey Jr.: I said, "My Lord, weren't we fighter pilots in '47? What do you call this place?"
Val Kilmer: It was in Burma. We both had the same Sherpa. His name was Peppercorn.
Robert Downey Jr.: Can I have a Kleenex, please? I said, "What's your dream role?" Someone asked me what my dream role was when we were answering for college radio. It was my question, and he would say, "Let me answer for both of us."
Val Kilmer: I answered for Robert.
Robert Downey Jr.: He says, "One of the things Robert's always said to me, which I believe is very Robert quotable..." What did you say my dream project was?
Val Kilmer: To Meet the Magic Swan. I'm telling you, we should write a movie, Robert. He's got a very fertile mind.
Robert Downey Jr.: (Going to the window to smoke): You know, when you're part of a comedic duo, you can take breaks. It's kind of like having a partner that is good with a kid.
Val Kilmer: If...If...
Robert Downey Jr.: Go ahead, Honey.
Val Kilmer: If we were in Vegas, would you...You'd be Sammy, right? I'd be Dino.
Robert Downey Jr.: Well, I play really good as the straight guy. The Dummy.
Val Kilmer: They loved us in France, so maybe you've got a Jerry Lewis thing about you, too.
Robert Downey Jr.: Well, I'm not saying I'm not a dummy.
Val Kilmer: Have you ever played a character that wacky?
Robert Downey Jr.: No questions, by the way. We'll be here all week. (Taps one of the microphones) Is this thing on?
Val Kilmer: Try the Veal. Hello, Four Seasons! Have you ever played a really wacky guy? Like Jerry Lewis wacky?
Robert Downey Jr.: Not that I remember.
Val Kilmer: Lets got to the tape!
Shane Black, anybody?
Val Kilmer: Shane Black was fantastic. And between Robert and I, we made movies for over forty years. We sat down in meetings; this was a first time director. How do you know? You can't have a conversation about Directing, really. There's no way to interview someone about it. Joel was his Joel Silver-like self when I asked him. He said, "I hired him. He's good. Don't worry." That was it. It was very short. It was, "Trust me, he's great." And as soon as he said that, I knew that Joel doesn't really make mistakes. He's one of the top five guys, right? He was just very, very happy. Also, I think it's a tribute to him seriously, about the risky comedy bits in it. And he trusted Shane. Most movies through the studio system get watered down. Like Michelle's introduction. It's about nothing. She's talking; she's making this analogy about color, and race...
Robert Downey Jr.: Rudolph, yeah...
Val Kilmer: And it doesn't have anything to do with the story, but its revealing her as a character. That would just get changed in a regular movie. And our routine, how we meet...
Robert Downey Jr.: Your telling me we're opening on her gams, and she's talking non-sequitors? Scratch it. We've got to re-write. The studio notes say she should be revealing what happens in the middle of act two...
Val Kilmer: So, Joel just said to Warner Brothers, "What will it take to leave me alone?" And that money, whatever it was, was what we had to work with.
In the wrong hands, this movie could have gone the wrong way. But it turned out...
Robert Downey Jr.: Isn't it funny how ...
Val Kilmer: Owe! Son of a bitch!
Robert Downey Jr.: Isn't it funny that we're the right hands?
Yeah, when did that happen?
Val Kilmer: Well, it's deceptively sophisticated, just like good acting is. Or anything good, really. We're not supposed to see how it's great. And there's wonderful stuff that Shane sets up in the story that's really the most challenging for Robert, because a lot of different styles are used, and there are places where you have to guess. There's an emotional pitch, and a rhythm. And Shane turned out to really have chops as a director.
Robert Downey Jr.: And if a character is really well written to begin with, then, when there's a strong through line, you get to do jokes that aren't in the script. Like, at the end, when Val says, "Chutney? He's gay." With most of my gay friends, when you say someone's name, they say, "He's gay."
Val Kilmer: Even in other languages. We saw it twice in France, and Cannes, and at Deville. It's a wonderful thing when a writer gets to do their thing. He also loves the audience. I think that's why audiences love it. He's smart. And you really have to pay attention. A lot of people say that, but it's hard to do. There's a lot of stuff in there I wouldn't have done as a director. It's just too out of my imagination. Like the size of the finale, with the holding onto the dead girl in the coffin on the 405 freeway. I just wouldn't have the guts to do that.
Do you get sick of most of the stuff you're sent?
Val Kilmer: I'm sick of most of what Robert does. You know? It's dry. It's emotionless.
Robert Downey Jr.: When I can't sleep, I watch your last three films on a loop.
Val Kilmer: You can't say that.
Robert Downey Jr.: You weren't married.
When did you guys first meet?
Val Kilmer: We met at an MTV awards. To hear Robert tell the story...He was on Vicodine...
Robert Downey Jr.: And everything else...You couldn't light a match within three feet of him.
Val Kilmer: Okay, Mr. Drugstore. No...He thinks that I was acting standoffish. But I was just shy. And I don't do those things...
Robert Downey Jr.: Isn't it great that we still can't decide on the beginning?
Val Kilmer: But it's all true, what I'm saying. I wanted to meet him. I loved his acting. But there were these barriers.
Robert Downey Jr.: He says he's shy. Take it from there.
Val Kilmer: He was looking at me funny. So we just shook hands.
Robert Downey Jr.: It was hard to see. You looked funny. You looked like an alien. You had big black glasses on...
Val Kilmer: I was Batman. I was living the life.
Robert Downey Jr.: I don't remember Batman having bug glasses. See, this is the weird part.
Val Kilmer: There were 18 thousand teenage girls back there.
Robert Downey Jr.: You can't take anything he says back to its logical inception. There is no logic.
Val Kilmer: I was working with DeNiro at the time, okay buddy?
Robert Downey Jr.: Oh, alright. I don't want any trouble.
Did you like those days when you were Batman, living the life?
Val Kilmer: You know, Kurt Russell told me years ago, when I was going on about something...We had lots of trials when we where working on Tombstone...
Robert Downey Jr.: (mocking Joel Shumaker) Your father's dead, you live in a cave, action!
Val Kilmer: Shh! The generator had blown up, and the first AD had just quit. And the director just got fired. And someone had left my trailer open in Tuscan. It was about 112. So every fly on the entire set went to my trailer. There were literally thousands of flies. I'm smashing the flies. I'm bitching about something. And Kurt said, "You know what? You won't remember any of this. You'll remember this. Because this is funny." It was like this, me telling the story. Fifteen years ago.
Robert Downey Jr.: By the way, can we get a little round of applause for Tombstone?
Val Kilmer: Ah...I was killing all of the flies, and I didn't get the nomination...This is about me now! You had your wedding. Michelle had hers. Joel bought another plane. What about me? So...So...My then wife was pregnant. I was rehearsing Heat on the weekend. Shooting live rounds over Tom Sizemore. He was shooting them under me. And DeNiro. And you know, automatic weapons are fun. It was kids stuff. Guys stuff. Then, you know, Batman. Where Warner Brother is the nicest studio. The studio I've worked with the most. To do that was very lavish. So, maybe I did have airs. Maybe I did.
Robert Downey Jr.: Is this a fucking retrospective? Or are we supposed to be talking about the movie?
Val Kilmer: I think so. (Looks at the recorders) They're on.
Robert, did you love those early days too?
Robert Downey Jr.: (snippy) Yeah, it was fun.
Val Kilmer: Okay, okay...Mr. Oscar Nominee. What I remember about those times is caring for my wife, then. And Micheal Mann loves to shoot, and shoot, and shoot. I kept saying, "The baby's due in June. I'm not going to be here." Because he kept shooting stuff. He loves to shoot. Actually, DeNiro and Pacino...Their last scene when they're at the airport? DeNiro said, "I think we got it." And Micheal said, "No." And DeNiro said, "I think we got it." And he got in a car on the Tarmac. And he drove to get on an airplane."
Robert Downey Jr.: You know that scene where he looks up, and there's the heat, and you have to decide that you can let it all go like that? And you saw his eyes. And he sees her. And you saw that he was never going to go back again. I think that's one of the ten greatest screen moments I've ever seen. You're just that fucking good dude.
Val Kilmer: Thanks.
Robert Downey Jr.: I just wanted to have a heartfelt moment in the middle of all of this.
Val Kilmer: He's lying. I'd do the same. But I won't. I'm not going to do that today.
How did you guys manage to shoot this in 35 days?
Val Kilmer: I blew more takes than on any movie I've ever done. Come on, look at him. He's funny. It's funny. I was supposed to be mad...
Robert Downey Jr.: I'm the propeller head grandma. I'm glad you're having a good time. Now, its two thirty, I have a Kung Fu lesson at lunch time. We've got to huna-nah, huna-nah...What the Hell are you eating? Are you going to stay the same weight? I was fucking miserable.
Val Kilmer: Yeah, you were pretty spiky there.
Robert Downey Jr.: And it worked.
Val Kilmer: You get wound up. That's good though.
LA is a character. Showbiz is a character...
Val Kilmer: What you talkin' ‘bout?
Did those little details and wisecracks ring true to you guys. About arriving in Hollywood?
Val Kilmer: Would you like to take that, Robert?
Robert Downey Jr.: Its kind of a love letter...Thank you, by the way...Like your Uncle, and its thanksgiving, and he's, "Do you want a Turkey leg? White or Dark meat?" And he's fucked up. It's really dysfunctional. Sometimes it's true. But that doesn't make it a bad place.
Val Kilmer: I love Shane's spirit. Because he is very tough on himself. He's tough on his community. But he's also like that kid in the Last Action Hero. He's this boy that loves all this stuff. I think he wrote a very good character. It's very honest, which is hard to do. The story doesn't work being too subjective.
Robert Downey Jr.: There's that scene where we're under the impression that Harmony is dead. And Gay Perry actually does grieve that, and he feels bad. But I'm leaning on his C3-20, and I'm telling him its time to go. You know? Then we switch to that other thing, which is the "gotta-go kid, gotta-go!" Which he did. It was always taking our experiences, and Shane's script, and mixing them, saying, what are those things? What are the physics of how you transition from something that's tragic and violent and emotional to something that's funny, and heartfelt, and true? Or whatever...
Have you finished doing Fur with Nicole Kidman?
Robert Downey Jr.: Yeah.
What was that like? What's it about?
Robert Downey Jr.: Fuzzball! I'm head to toe Chewbacca. That's all I can say about it.
Are either of you going to write an autobiography? They'd be great, either of you...
Robert Downey Jr.: I'm almost done with Val's.
What's it called?
Robert Downey Jr.: Smut!
Val Kilmer: Smut? You're very mean about my dates. You don't remember that, do you?
You were mean about his girls?
Robert Downey Jr.: He had this steady stream of chickies...
Val Kilmer: I was dating at the time.
Robert Downey Jr.: It should have been, like when you're at a conference. And you have those nametags, "Hello, My Name Is..." "Hello, Shann....Onnnn! Nice to see you!"
Val Kilmer: See, mean. Nothing but mean.
Robert Downey Jr.: Mean. It's lunch time, and...
Val, what are you doing next?
Val Kilmer: I've been waiting a year for this to come out. I've waited a year to find out if it was funny or not.
You haven't done anything else since then?
Val Kilmer: No. I finished a play in London. The Postman Always Rings Twice.
Robert Downey Jr.: We have an idea. You know all those Road Movies?
Val Kilmer: Don't say it out loud. Amongst all the tape recorders.
Robert Downey Jr.: Oh, okay. Why?
Val Kilmer: Someone might steal it.
Robert, you're working on Zodiac right now, is that still shooting?
Robert Downey Jr.: Still filming? It may very well be still filming when I come to promote the next movie. David Fincher, ladies and gentlemen.
Val Kilmer: Did you mention...You didn't mention...
Robert Downey Jr.: What, what, what...Do you want me to take someone out?
Do you guys have a film of someone else's that you just love?
Val Kilmer: He doesn't watch anyone but himself.
Robert Downey Jr.: That I just put on? Like I can find the right DVD that's in the right case. That doesn't have a Game Cube game in it?
Val Kilmer: The Full Monty. I like that. But last year, I liked the Anchor Man. I'm getting really deep in my forties. I used to like James Joyce. Now I watch Anchor Man five times. This is how much I liked Anchor Man. I did a musical here last year. And for the first two weeks, I'm doing dumb Will Ferrell Anchor Man jokes, because he's a dumb, pompous guy. And no one knows what I'm talking about, because these guys are into the theater. So I got a copy of the film, and I ran it at Paramount, so my fifty-five cast members would know what I was talking about.
Robert Downey Jr.: He's always running something, or doing something, or calling me up and saying, "I'm having a bit of a Garden Party. Robert, what is that special water you drink?" You live like the frickin Great Gatsby.
Val Kilmer: I told you, I'm living the life.
How many decades have you guys put in?
Val Kilmer: Twenty years, fifty movies. Did you have any work?
Robert Downey Jr.: No. I'm not above that, though.
Val Kilmer: Really, you would do that?
Robert Downey Jr.: I'm saving it for when I get a summer off.
Val Kilmer: Oh, man. I know our age guys that have had surgery already. It's frightening. Our culture.
Robert Downey Jr.: Would you do it?
Val Kilmer: No. I like that Redford look. Just look like a walnut. Just go for it. I mean; Tommy Lee Jones...
Robert Downey Jr.: So much for Horse Whisperer 2.
How much of your narration in the film was improvised?
Robert Downey Jr.: Not very much of it. It was more the feeling of it. Then we'd go back and rewrite it. Try it again. It's my delivery that makes it seem so spontaneous. (Makes fart noise...)
You guys seem like really funny guys.
Val Kilmer: God, I love you.
What would you like to see on your Epitaph?
Val Kilmer: Oh, I just heard a really funny one. Was it Oscar Wilde? "See, I told you so." Or was that WC FIELDS?
Robert Downey Jr.: You mean, like, you put me in early, type thing?
Val Kilmer: See, I knew this would happen.
Robert Downey Jr.: I want to say "Give me back my money, bitch."
Val Kilmer: Wow. You always have to go dark. You always have to go down, down, down...
Robert Downey Jr.: It just came up. I don't know what I'm saying.
Val Kilmer: You've got children. Stay in the light, Robert.
Robert Downey Jr.: Did you check? Did you hold a mirror under my nose, you pricks?
What would guys do differently, looking back?
Val Kilmer: Seriously, I didn't realize until recently, looking back, that the professional life of a director is a lot shorter than an actor. And there are a lot of directors that I turned down for whatever reason, and I just wouldn't do that again.
Would you like to work with Oliver Stone again?
Val Kilmer: I did, but no one saw it.
What did you do?
Val Kilmer: Alexander. Only me, the editor, and Colin Ferrell saw that.
Robert Downey Jr.: And the 9/11 thing. No one heard about that.
Val Kilmer: I really did do another film with Oliver Stone.
Robert Downey Jr.: Look for him in Montana. It's coming out next week. We were duck-blind, trying to buy a six-pack together.
Val Kilmer: One of his funniest is with Oliver in Natural Born Killers. Were you Australian?
What makes an actor want to work with that guy?
Val Kilmer: Well, he takes risks. He's made a bunch of radical films that have made a lot of money, and opened up our business. I think it has closed right back on him again. I mean, Alexander is interesting. If you like film, it's interesting.
Robert Downey Jr.: He really is someone that is like a litmus for other directors. That's why.
Val Kilmer: He takes chances. He's going for something.
We see actors come and go every day; and you guys are still around...
Robert Downey Jr.: Here we are.
Val Kilmer: He's just getting started. And now he can remember what happened yesterday. Is that fair to say?
Robert Downey Jr.: No, not in the slightest.
Val Kilmer: there's something else I want to say about Robert. There's just not that many actors that are this good. Most actors are self aware, or self possessed. Or both. He knows who he is, and has a sense of humor about it. This is a hard business. And to have things happen when your bad, and to have to go through it, with everybody asking you about it...
Robert Downey Jr.: What it comes down to is good friends and good work. The work's been pretty good for awhile. God, I sound like a shmuck.
Val Kilmer: God, I wish Susan had a sister.
And that ends our conversation with Robert Downey Jr. and al Kilmer. I hope you enjoyed!