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Artificial Intelligence

Val Kilmer’s AI Voice — How The Top Gun Actor Can Speak Again Thanks to Artificial Intelligence


There was a time when Los Angeles native Val Kilmer was one of the most sought-after screen stars in the world. Originally a stage actor, he was once the youngest person ever to be accepted into Juilliard’s Drama Division. Kilmer initially found fame through big-screen comedy roles in Real Genius and Top Secret!. Following an iconic appearance as “Iceman” opposite Tom Cruise in 1986’s Top Gun, the actor’s career really caught fire in the 90s with performances in The DoorsTombstone, Heat and the title role in Batman: Forever.

Following a string of critical and commercial misses like The Saint and most infamously The Island of Dr. Moreau, his career cooled down, though a memorably brilliant appearance in Shane Black‘s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang in the early aughts garnered critical and fan praise, as well as a Saturn Award Nomination. In recent times, the talented and respected actor’s health struggles have overshadowed his career.

Learn about Val Kilmer’s voice and how Val Kilmer’s AI voice works.

Does Val Kilmer have a speech problem?

Tragically, Kilmer lost his voice to throat cancer in 2015. After two tracheotomies, the performer (also known for commanding voice work in The Prince of Egypt and more) suffered severe speech impairment.

 

In his 2020 memoir I’m Your Huckleberry, Kilmer joked that he has less of a frog in his throat and more of a “buffalo.” He said, “Speaking, once my joy and lifeblood, has become an hourly struggle.” Kilmer has teamed up with Sonantic, a U.K.-based software firm that uses artificial intelligence to copy voices for actors and production studios, to replicate his speech, using old recordings of his voice and existing footage.

Related: Watch: Tom Cruise Shows He’s Still Got It in the High-Flying Top Gun 2 Teaser Trailer

How does Val Kilmer talk? How does Val Kilmer’s AI voice work?

Kilmer elaborates on the process of finding his voice again through AI in the video below, posted to YouTube in August 2021. In his new AI-enhanced voice, which does indeed emulate the speech audiences are familiar with, Kilmer says: “People around me struggle to understand me when I’m talking, but despite all that, I still feel I’m the exact same person, still the same creative soul. A soul that dreams ideas and stories constantly. But now I can express myself again, I can bring these dreams to you, and show you this part of myself once more. A part that was never truly gone, just hiding away.”

Kilmer’s health struggles, his childhood tragedies and his ambitious career were recently documented in the acclaimed 2021 feature-length doc Val, now streaming on Amazon Prime Video. Top Gun: Maverick screened at the Cannes Film Festival to rapturous reviews, with thunderous fanfare including an air show. Though reports say audiences gave the action picture (currently sitting at a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes) a five-minute standing ovation, with audible responses throughout the picture, mainly at the groundbreaking stunt work, it’s also been reported an audience-favorite scene is the “overwhelming” emotional response to the reunion of Cruise and Kilmer.

Related: From Risky Business to Big Business: Tom Cruise’s Net Worth Flies Higher Than Maverick

Top Gun: Maverick opens exclusively in theaters May 27.

Next, check out our roundup of 2022’s biggest summer movies.



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