Val Kilmer, the talented 62-year-old actor, sadly won’t be able to reprise his role as Madmartigan in the new Disney+ sequel series Willow. Despite his battle with cancer, Kilmer had hoped to participate in the relaunch of the beloved series. However, unresolved health issues have made it impossible for him to join the project at this time.
Kilmer, a survivor of throat cancer, faced additional challenges during the pandemic, which further delayed his comeback. Speaking about the situation, showrunner Jonathan Kasdan shared, “We were preparing for the series during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak, and it became an insurmountable obstacle. Unfortunately, Val was unable to speak up about his health concerns at the time.” Despite this setback, the creators of the show found a way to keep Kilmer’s character involved in the storyline.
“I remember meeting Val when we first started working on this project,” Kasdan recalled. “I told him that the entire world wanted Madmartigan back, but no one wanted it as much as I did.” Kasdan was touched by Kilmer’s response as he embraced him and said, “I’m still very strong.” With this reassurance, the team began outlining the first season of the series, hoping to involve Kilmer. However, later in the process, it became clear that Kilmer’s participation would not be feasible.
Kasdan emphasized that Kilmer still has the opportunity to take part in future projects related to the new Willow series. “We wanted to honor Val’s indomitable spirit while keeping the door open for any future possibilities,” Kasdan explained. “We have been engaging with him in a way that allows him to feel heard and valued, even if he can’t be physically seen.”
Val Kilmer’s health journey has been challenging. In 2015, he received a throat cancer diagnosis but chose not to publicly disclose it until 2017. It was Kilmer’s children, Jack (27) and Mercedes (30), who convinced him to undergo chemotherapy treatment. Initially, Kilmer had faith in his Christian Science beliefs to heal the tumors, leading him to resist conventional treatments.
To address his throat cancer, Kilmer eventually had a tracheotomy—a procedure that established a connection between his windpipe and a hole in the front of his neck. This alteration significantly affected his speaking voice. However, Kilmer used artificial intelligence technology to continue portraying his character Iceman, allowing filmmakers to replicate his distinctive speech patterns using past recordings.
Losing his ability to speak pushed Kilmer to rediscover his creativity through painting. Through his autobiography, “I’m Your Huckleberry,” and his documentary, “Val,” available on Amazon Prime, Kilmer shared the solace he found in visual arts. He described the healing experience he found with art, tapping into his creative juices and finding a new way to express himself.
Val Kilmer’s inspiring story reflects the therapeutic value of art, which many individuals, including cancer survivors, have turned to as a means of coping with their emotions. Whether integrated during or after cancer treatment, artistic activities have well-established and supported therapeutic effects on mental health.
A study published in the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association in 2016 found that engaging in creative activities for as little as an hour can reduce stress and improve mental well-being. The benefits apply regardless of one’s artistic ability or experience.
It’s essential to understand throat cancer and its risk factors. While the causes of specific types of cancer can be challenging to determine, staying informed is crucial. Throat cancer has risk factors such as alcohol and tobacco use, as well as the presence of the human papillomavirus (HPV). Contrary to popular misconceptions, HPV can affect both men and women and is responsible for cervical cancer. Strains of HPV associated with cervical cancer have also been linked to throat cancer.
According to Dr. Jessica Geiger of the Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center, HPV can lead to cancer in both genders. Most patients with HPV-related throat cancer are men in their 40s or 50s who are non-smokers or occasional smokers. By being aware of these risk factors, we can take steps to protect ourselves and prioritize our health.