Story by Sienna Thomas/Viking News/@moodynature
Val Kilmer held two screenings for “Citizen Twain” at LBCC’s LAC auditorium Feb. 24-25. Kilmer joked to the crowd, “If anyone has been wondering where I’ve been,” about the ongoing project that has been in the works for the past 13 years.
Kilmer did a private screening with the theater students the day before the show and they acted as ushers at both screenings.
Will Werner, 21, theater major, said he felt fortunate, regarding Kilmer’s presence at the school. “Not many people get to hear the perspective of someone who’s made it in the industry,” he said.
Elijah Douglas, 22, theater major, said he felt “Bewildered, we’ve got to meet him yesterday.”
The movie was created before the play, which Kilmer admitted was an unusual order to work in. He had always wanted to direct a film and knew he could stay passionate for the time of work it took, but he didn’t expect for it to take so long.
The 1-man screenplay is based on the life of Samuel Clemens, and his writings as Mark Twain. Politics, family and faith were explored from Twain’s satirical point of view. The character study and research began for film and turned into a play, putting Kilmer back on stage where he began at Juilliard.
Reflecting on the process of his work, Kilmer said, “I sold my 6,000 acre ranch and I used to have a career. Those are two things gone now,” he joked. “I used to have friends and a staff.” “What I do have is the best thing I’ve ever done so I’m grateful to have something that represents how I feel about life.”
As the event began, Kilmer opened with questions from the audience, giving a disclaimer for his swollen tongue and that he was undergoing speech therapy. “I woke up one day and my tongue was like this and I had to stop the play,” he said regarding other shows.
At 7:45 p.m. as people were still making their way to their seats, Kilmer said, “You’re very late. I came from Malibu and I made it on time,” causing an uproar of laughter from the crowd.
Kilmer was in good spirits and told jokes the whole night. When asked who his favorite director was, poking fun at himself, Kilmer pointed to screen and said “I love this guy, so understanding, great with the crew, he bought me a car.”
One audience member asked if the movie would be available for purchase, to which Kilmer responded, “Yes, I’d love to finish it first.”
When the film ended, there was a standing ovation and cheering from the crowd. Kilmer shared, “Stay in school, read a book, and be nice to your neighbor.”
During the VIP meet and greet, Hector Hernandez, a fan of Kilmer, said he found out about the event on Facebook and had to purchase tickets. After speaking briefly with Kilmer, Hernandez must have made an impression on him because he received a piece of Batman art created by Kilmer himself, that was selling in the lobby for $250.
At Saturday’s sold out screening, with 600 tickets sold, “VIP were the first to sell out in about 10 days,” said Greg Mortensen, performing arts professor at LBCC. Around 500 tickets were sold at Friday’s showing. “He’s very generous with his time,” Mortensen said about Kilmer doing the VIP meet and greet at 10:30 p.m. with a line still waiting for their moment with Kilmer. A large portion of ticket sales went to the Theatre Department, as well as a portion to the Aguero family, whose house burned down New Year’s Eve.
Kilmer would like to do more work like Cinema Twain focusing on the Mark Twain perspective, working closely with teachers and students in theater programs. Current projects for Kilmer include, “Song to Song,” “The Super,” and “The Snowman,” but says he’d love to be back on Broadway.