Movie Talk

Val Kilmer unrecognizable as Mark Twain

Movie Talk

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Photo by Neil Jacobs

He's played the rock god Jim Morrison, Moses, and even Batman, but now Val Kilmer is taking on the diety of authors: Mark Twain, in a one-man play, "Citizen Twain," which he created. The 52-year-old wrote, directed, and stars in the project.

From the photo of him in full Twain getup, it may be hard to believe that the actor is the usually blond, baby-faced Kilmer.

The show, which will run for two weekends at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, is all just preparation for a movie that Kilmer is set to do also as Twain, "Mark Twain and Mary Baker Eddy." The two were historical adversaries: Twain, a social satirist, and Eddy, the founder of Christian science.

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The pair never met, but Twain was obsessed with her views, and wrote screeds against her. Kilmer told the Huffington Post that after seven years studying the two, "It's very much like 'Amadeus.' It's a dual biography. I'm regretting that now, because it's really hard to do."

As Twain, the "Heat" actor is unrecognizable. Fans may be reminded that the actor's trademark is exhaustive research in a role, and the Twain project is no exception. Kilmer wears the signature wild white hair and trademark mustache. His face is wrinkled, and he speaks with Twain's twang. The "Willow" actor, whose career has long been in a slump, is apparently financing the film himself. A note on the movie's website says the actor sold his New Mexico home to help with funding.

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Kilmer, who is also an accomplished stage actor, told the Hollywood Reporter that the live performance is a great way into the character, who, he said, he's always loved for "his humor and genius." He added, "There's really no way of creating the role of Mark Twain without being onstage. He was a speaker, first and foremost; he did it before he was a famous writer. It's how he became famous as a writer, and it's even how he wrote novels. He would write in the morning and then read them to his children."

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