Unresolved Health Issues Delay Val Kilmer’s Comeback
Val Kilmer, the talented 62-year-old actor, will not be able to reprise his role as Madmartigan in the recently released Disney+ sequel series Willow due to unresolved health issues stemming from his battle with cancer. As a survivor of throat cancer, Kilmer faced additional challenges during the pandemic, making it impossible for him to participate in the relaunch of Willow.
“We were preparing for the series during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak, and it became an insurmountable obstacle,” shared showrunner Jonathan Kasdan. “Unfortunately, Val was unable to speak up about his health concerns at the time.” Despite this setback, the show’s creators found a way to keep Kilmer’s character involved in the storyline.
A Heartfelt Effort to Include Kilmer
“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.” Kilmer’s response touched Kasdan deeply, 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. Unfortunately, later in the process, it became clear that Kilmer’s participation would not be feasible.
However, 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.”
Kilmer’s Cancer Battle and Recovery
In 2015, Kilmer received a throat cancer diagnosis, but he 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, which led him to resist conventional treatments.
To treat 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. Although this alteration significantly affected his speaking voice, Kilmer used artificial intelligence technology to continue portraying his character Iceman, allowing filmmakers to replicate his distinctive speech patterns using past recordings.
Embracing Art as a Healing Experience
Through his autobiography, I’m Your Huckleberry, and his documentary Val, available on Amazon Prime, Kilmer shared the solace he found in painting as a result of his voice damage. Losing his ability to speak pushed him to rediscover his creative side through writing and drawing. In Kilmer’s own words, “When one item is removed, another is given.” He described the healing experience he found with art, tapping into his creative juices and finding a new way to express himself.
Art Therapy as a Path to Healing
Val Kilmer’s inspiring story reflects the therapeutic value of art. Many individuals, including cancer survivors, have turned to various artistic pursuits, such as singing, dancing, painting, or crafting, 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.
Understanding Throat Cancer and Risk Factors
While it may be challenging to determine the causes of specific types of cancer, staying informed is crucial. Risk factors for throat cancer include 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.