Kilmer: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Four Seasons. [Motions to RDJ as he enters the room] Robert Downey, Jr. If there was something that you liked in the film, I wrote it. And if you were just marking time, Robert wrote it. Shane did nothing.
Downey: The soundtrack? Boy, it pisses me off when we don’t get any of the promotional merchandise.
Kilmer: You know what I got because I was nice? I have huge lifesize posters from Cannes in the French.
Downey: In "the" French?
Kilmer: In the French. Because my daughter can’t wait to see this movie. She loved all the stories. Did your boys see it?
Kilmer: [To us] We’ll be with you in a moment.
And that’s how it got started with these two. In a word: FUN. Kilmer and Downey still seemed to be in Gay Perry and Harry Lockhart mode… riffing off each other and just having an absolute ball. The chemistry was just great. You know, the number of junkets I’ve covered is miniscule in comparison to how many Devin (or "Devon" as I hear he likes to be called) has done, but already I’m weary of the ones where you just know the talent is there because of some contract stipulation or whatever. The "okay, c’mon let’s get this over with" attitude. So this was refreshing and quite the treat for me. I hope it translates well over text too because on tape it’s pretty damn hilarious.
Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang is now in limited release and goes wide on November 10th. See it, bastardos!
Q: Val, how old is your daughter?
Kilmer: My daughter is going to be 14 at the end of the month.
Q: Wow. So can she see the movie?
Kilmer: Well, if I let her out of the closet I’ve locked her into. And my son is 10.
Downey: Indio is 12.
Kilmer: That’s a good name, Indio. Now he looks like Indio. He didn’t when I met him. The hair is cool.
Q: So, what was it like when you guys kissed each other?
Kilmer: I loved it, he complained, complained, complained.
Downey: I did.
Q: What was bad about it?
Kilmer: The tongue. Well, he smokes. He chain smokes. No breath mints.
Downey: He smelled like the breath of a jackal.
Kilmer: Not true, not true.
Downey: I don’t know why he saved jackal breath for our kissing scene.
Kilmer: It was fine, it was fine. I’ve never kissed a guy before except for Colin Farrell in a movie.
Q: But that was father and son.
Kilmer: Yeah, so that was weird when he slipped me the tongue. And Robert is a better kisser.
Downey: Did he try to slip you like the Skeleton Key to get him out of… Oh no, that’s a Houdini.
Kilmer: I think he bit my lip. He’s angry.
Downey: I want to play your wife in Houdini.
Kilmer: Do you remember her name? I always wanted to play Houdini my whole life.
Downey: What was his wife’s name?
Kilmer: Not telling you.
Downey: That’s because you forgot.
Kilmer: But it’s a great love story. He was so dedicated to his girl.
Downey: What’s the movie we did together last year?
Kilmer: I don’t remember.
Downey: Why don’t we talk about that? Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang.
Kilmer: Oh, you want to talk about it because you’re the lead.
Q: Robert may be the lead, but you save the day.
Downey: He does. Steals the movie.
Kilmer: I don’t. [SPOILER] Oh, I take a bullet… there is that. [END SPOILER]
Downey: You know, Val Kilmer is the happiest person I have ever seen on a set. He is basically having a day and there happens to be a movie being shot as well. It’s great. There’s that detachment.
Kilmer: Well, it was the role as well. My guy is in control, he just doesn’t like you. That’s about it, right? And I loved Michelle [Monaghan].
Downey: We love Michelle. We loved Shane too, by the way. We’re pleased as punch with this.
Kilmer: I am happy with Shane because you already knew you were good, but Shane didn’t know he was good.
Q: Did you know anyone like your character? That "down on his luck" kinda guy?
Downey: I was in New York in Hell’s Kitchen on the phone, somehow someone had actually paid the bill that month; probably my roommate John Melfi who now produces Sex and the City, or did produce, talking to Sarah Jessica Parker and she goes, "What are you doing? What’s your place like?" I said, "It’s a loft. I’m just making a little quiche." Hung up the phone, I was like Riggs in Lethal Weapon and I got called up to LA, so I didn’t have to steal from shoe stores or work in clubs anymore.
Kilmer: You worked in clubs?
Downey: Yeah, you knew I stole from shoe stores.
Q: What do you think of the sort of twist on the leading man action hero?
Downey: I think it’s timely. I think it’s difficult and unfair for people to imagine that they are supposed to relate to these unflappable, almost, the ideals have been pretty high. Post war stuff, even like our Dad’s seem like these guys who were just tougher and cooler and saw more and were more capable than we were and it’s not that kind of party. I’m not saying that ‘Harry’ is a dummy but he is someone who essentially is…
Kilmer: I’m saying he’s a dummy. I’m saying that straight up. At least the way you played him. That was very, very satisfying just to watch Robert who is so smart, have to be squished into this simple character. You just had to take it everyday, didn’t you?
Downey: Yeah, I didn’t mind. I’m a lot more stupid than I knew. [Laughs]
Q: So we keep reading that you guys really hit it off.
Kilmer: Don’t you hate that?
Downey: Wouldn’t it be great if we never spoke? That’s the Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang version after everything I go "You are a son of a bitch." He goes "Blow me."
Q: Considering it was his first time, how was Shane when directing?
Kilmer: He is very calm. I probably went to Robert immediately when I saw it was calm bordering on comatose. I thought well he’s deer in the headlights, he’s frozen, we were in trouble. It was simply that he was that well prepared and he never changed really. He never raised his voice once. And it’s a frustrating job.
Downey: Yes he did. I’m just going to give you the counterpoint. There is a scene where you’re not in this part of the movie.
Kilmer: Oh, well, that’s why I don’t care.
Downey: My friend Flicka is at the airport and I say this and that and I get the information that keeps me from leaving town.
Kilmer: She is cute.
Q: The stewardess?
Downey: The stewardess, and he was trying to get her supped up for the scene and he goes "Come on! Energy! Energy!" and he turns around and he walks into a key light, brings down the entire scrim. [Laughs] I mean it was like it was Buster Keaton, the whole fucking set fell down. And it was like well, uh, that would be cut. Greatest thing I ever saw.
Q: What did you guys like about each other, if indeed you did like anything about each other?
Kilmer: I always like a good laugh and Robert is very, very funny. I think one of my favorite things about Robert is his observations. We’ll sit with someone and have dinner and the thing that he sees in that person, their character, and I was sitting there just as long as he was and it’s invariably interesting and entertaining and he usually says it in an interesting way. He’s a little off today, but [Laughs] that’s my favorite part.
Downey: I think he makes, it’s like anything, when you say "How did you know you guys were going to be best friends?" we didn’t, you know? It happened and it was like "Oh we just like get each other." And it’s really nice as opposed to manufacturing chemistry or knowing it’s not there and going "Oh well, this can never work."
Q: Robert plays a guy who has the unfortunate experience of being best friended by a girl that he’s really obsessed with. Have you ever experienced that?
Downey: Been there, yep. Drew Davis was her name, Matt Dillon was her flame. [Laughs] He came back to me one day and said "Hey Robert, I was banging Drew last night and I just don’t even know if I am even that into her anymore." I wanted to tear his eye out.
Kilmer: I had a party in London and I asked Robert if he would mind if I invited Mickey Rourke and he said "No, I don’t mind. He put a hit out on me once but you can invite him." Because of a lady. Did you guys talk? Did you patch it up?
Downey: He didn’t come to the party, Val.
Kilmer: He did too.
Downey: Oh, well, I’d left already because I’m early to bed, early to rise.
Kilmer: Yeah, now. What was the question?
Q: Being best friended?
Downey: Question, answer.
Kilmer: No, my first girlfriend in high school, I had a girlfriend in grade school, but my first girl friend in high school was Mare Winningham, very fine actress. Chatsworth High, she went right out of high school, started working. Movie of the Week Queen… she was for about a decade.
Q: What was your motivation in taking this part, Val?
Kilmer: Well I sure had been looking for a comedy for years without any success. Partly because the town is just finicky. There are strange Catch 22 clauses in the consciousness of this community and one of them was that you, I found out, can’t do a comedy unless you’ve just done a comedy. They won’t let you. So some that I could do just weren’t interesting and so I was just really energized and happy about that. I feel much like I just started anyway. I took some time off, made some smaller movies, my kids are older now and I really don’t, I love to travel but now that I am a parent I don’t travel well anymore. I really, really love being with my kids, so I took some roles where I could be at home.
Downey: I was nervous, though, because it was one of those things where this…
Kilmer: Well, if the movie didn’t work, it would be your fault.
Downey: Yeah. I read Wonder Boys and I said, "Wow, this could never turn out as well as the script that I just read." And as often as not…
Kilmer: That’s the Michael Douglas starrer.
Kilmer: Starrer. I’m learning the lingo.
Downey: Helmed by Curtis Hanson. Very much so.
Q: How difficult is it to find some sort of longevity in Hollywood?
Kilmer: Well, I’d like to take that for both of us, Robert. It’s really darn near impossible. Just recently I’ve realized just how kind my community has been to me because they’ve just, it’s a tough, tough business and there is always somebody else coming up and they will work for free and there is no baggage and everybody is excited about it, everybody wants the guy that everyone is excited about. Colin Farrell now who is a friend, has just worked with ten really interesting people: Michael Mann, Robert Towne, who never makes movies? Terrence Malick. Oliver Stone, those are the last four guys. I mean you live your life to work with one of those guys once and he’s just, it’s been three years. They are saying he’s the guy and there is always going to be another one. So for both of us, we either know people like Sean Penn who thanked the Robert Downey Jr.’s when he won an Oscar, which was very wonderful, or who have disappeared. Guys that couldn’t get arrested.
Downey: I thought I was having an auditory hallucination. Like everyone got up on the stand was like, "I’d like to thank my agent, Robert Downey Jr." It was really sweet. He’s a gentleman.
Q: After this film, how do you feel about the possibilities of future roles as far as freedom is concerned?
Kilmer: Well, I am older and know more. I was very ambitious about acting when I was younger. Now that I know how to do it better, and now I’m going to really be blunt, I’m focusing on being a business man. I want to be consistent as an actor. I’ve always made strange choices. Having said that, last year I wanted the same thing and I did a musical in LA and then I did a play in London, so maybe I’ll just keep making strange choicesk but I would like to be regarded as a reliable money maker for my employers. I’ve made over a billion dollars since I started acting. I wish I had some of it, but like Robert can consistently carry a movie and there’s not a lot of actors that can. There’s a lot of stars that get paid to do it, but it’s hard to do.
Q: And Robert?
Kilmer: I’m not done about me.
Downey: I think it’s just like Joel Silver says, "It isn’t show pleasure, it’s show business." It never occurred to me, particularly after I did Chaplin, that there was this 18 month window where I wasn’t supposed to smoke bowls and watch the History Channel. I was supposed to plan the next big thing. It is disheartening because you try to act detached but essentially your life is your work and your friends and obviously your family and your relationships. But they say good work and good friends is what sustains you. I guess it was that thing too of the narcissism of wanting to act like it wasn’t that important to me and I didn’t care and also having the tendency to like to check out and anesthetize myself. Between the two of those it’s like you are not firing on all cylinders and it’s not that kind of party. It’s not a rat race, it is a road rally for sure.
Q: What was it like playing a gay character, Val?
Kilmer: How did it free me, is that what you want to know? [Laughs] I’m wearing red socks! [Laughs]
I just laughed, it’s just funny. The 3rd or 4th page once we’ve met and
they are saying just the weirdest banter coming down the steps, I had
that guy John Miller go, "I got 5 bucks that says you could probably
still find that guy, probably get together." I go, "Oh yeah, I got a
quarter that sings Moonlight over Miami." It’s just weird dialogue. I
liked it right away and I didn’t really have to do that much in terms
of preparation but just talk to Shane and have fun and then see what
Robert was going to do because my character is functionary to his.
Those rhythms of things if he thought that there was maybe a possible
dip in the scene or we maybe needed something else, or didn’t quite get
something, that always happens.
But Val, and I speak for both of us when I say Val avoided that pitfall
that would have been almost impossible for me to not fall in which is
the camera is running, you are Gay Perry and how can you not camp it
up? But when he did it was realistic. Like it’s an improvisation in our
next to last scene together when he turns around "You bet I’ll turn
around, look at him he doesn’t even know he’s gay." We’re following
that guy down the hallway. So again it was instinctual, it came out of
the character which is I think why it works.
Q: Would you guys ever return to these characters?
Kilmer: I’d love to.
Downey: No, I don’t want a franchise that I’m the lead in. [Laughs]
Kilmer: He gets the girl, he’s funny, he’s sweet.
Downey: I have a feeling, this is the shitty part, only in my world would this happen: "Robert we’re doing a sequel except this time, it’s really more Perry’s show. Now you work for him Robert. You saw the end of the movie didn’t you Robert?"
Kilmer: It should just be a caper though, right?
Downey: Maybe, like Ocean’s 12.
Kilmer: No, not like Ocean’s 12.