Val Kilmer Says Acting After His Tracheotomy Was Like Learning Another Language

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Val Kilmer
Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Val Kilmer has likened returning to acting following his tracheotomy to having to learn another language. The 60-year-old actor underwent the procedure (where a breathing tube is surgically inserted into a person's neck to aid breathing) while battling throat cancer.

He discussed the impact on his work while promoting his new movie, Paydirt, which also stars his 28-year-old daughter, Mercedes.

"It's just like any other language or dialect," he told Good Morning America, about the difficulties he now faces with communication. "You have to figure out a way to communicate that's no different than any other acting challenge, but it's just a very unique set of circumstances."

Kilmer noted that he’s doing great following the health setback, adding that he feels “a lot better than I sound.”

And, while returning to set may have come with an extra hurdle, Mercedes -- who plays Kilmer’s on-screen daughter in the film -- couldn’t be prouder to have been part of a project which embraced such challenges.

"Playing his daughter was so trippy and perfect," the actress said. "I'm so proud to have worked on this film, not just because my dad is my actual dad, but because -- I know you don't really lead with this -- but you do have, now, a disability with your voice. And, it really meant a lot to me to be able to be involved in this film that centers a disabled actor, or an actor with a disability."

Kilmer opened up about his battle with cancer in his memoir, I'm Your Huckleberry, which was released in April. He later shared that he went ahead with chemotherapy despite the treatment being against his Christian Science beliefs, at the insistence of Mercedes and his son, Jack, whom he shares with ex-wife Joanne Whalley.

During Monday’s GMA appearance, Kilmer also discussed reprising his role as Iceman in the hotly anticipated upcoming Top Gun sequel Top Gun: Maverick.

"All I can tell you about the film is that my hair is not the same length," he said, before adding that "Iceman has not become Ice Monk."

Kilmer previously dished on how he was one of the “party boys” while co-star Tom Cruise was busy working with “laser-like focus” on the original Top Gun film.

“Tom refrained from our revelry, with good reason,” he wrote in his memoir. “From day one, he was laser-focused on a singular goal: to become the greatest action hero in the history of film. He was up nights learning lines; he spent every waking hour perfecting his stunts. His dedication was admirable. Of course, even more admirable is the fact that he achieved his goal.”

See more on Kilmer and Top Gun below.

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