Val Kilmer Was Able To Talk In Latest 'Top Gun' Movie Thanks To AI After Losing Voice To Throat Cancer

Val Kilmer delighted fans when he made an unexpected but heartening appearance in Top Gun: Maverick.
credit: Sipa US / Alamy
The 62-year-old actor reunited with his former co-star Tom Cruise in the movie, more than 20 years after the pair starred alongside each other in the 1986 original, Top Gun.

In the first movie, Kilmer played Tom 'Iceman' Kazansky, another skilled pilot who matched Cruise's Maverick out in the skies, causing them to come to blows.

Now, in Joseph Kosinski's sequel, movie theater audiences were delighted to see Kilmer back as Iceman - this time as an admiral calling on Maverick to rejoin the Top Gun program.

Val Kilmer talks about his acting comeback and working with his daughter:

However, after going public with his throat cancer diagnosis in 2017 and subsequently losing much of his ability to speak after undergoing a tracheotomy, fans were interested to see how Kilmer's dialogue would be achieved in the movie.

Well, as reported by PEOPLE, Kilmer had help from state-of-the-art artificial intelligence.

The technology was developed by a company called Sonantic, with CEO John Flynn revealing in a 2021 blog post that different algorithms were able to "generate more than 40 different voice models" for Kilmer, with the actor being bestowed the "best, highest-quality, most expressive one".

Flynn added: "From the beginning, our aim was to make a voice model that Val would be proud of... We were eager to give him his voice back, providing a new tool for whatever creative projects are ahead."

Sonantic also released a video showcasing what Kilmer's voice sounds like using their technology. In the video, the actor explained: "My voice as I knew it, was taken away from me."

"We all have the capacity to be creative, Kilmer said. "We’re all driven to share our deepest dreams and ideas with the world. When we think of the most talented creative people, they speak to us in a unique way. A phrase we often hear is ‘having a creative voice.'"

He continued: "But I was struck by throat cancer. After getting treated, my voice as I knew it was taken away from me. People around me struggle to understand 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 confidently, but now I can express myself again, bring these ideas to you, and show you this part of myself once more," Kilmer adds. "A part that was never truly gone. Just hiding away."

Similar voice technology is currently being used in the Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi to assist with James Earl Jones' Darth Vader dialogue.

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