Cher Says She Was "Madly in Love" With Val Kilmer Despite Age Gap

The singer and actor had a romantic fling in the '80s.

Cher isn't one to hold back her thoughts, including when it comes to her relationships. The music icon has dated many famous men over the years—from Warren Beatty to Tom Cruise—and shared her feelings about them publicly. Back in the '80s, Cher had a romantic fling with Cruise's Top Gun co-star Val Kilmer, and it's one of the relationships she looks back on mostly fondly. The now-77-year-old singer has opened up about why she fell "madly in love" with Kilmer, their 13-year age gap, their breakup, and their friendship, which has continued on for decades since their romantic relationship ended. Read on to find out more about this couple from pop culture past.

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They met through a mutual friend.

Cher and Val Kilmer at a 1982 Tony Awards party
Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

In a 2021 piece for People, Cher explained that she met Kilmer at her birthday party, which was thrown by a mutual friend. They hit it off right away.

"We became friends because we laughed at the same things constantly," Cher recalled. "He would sleep over and it was just a friendship [at first.] That took a long time. Well, I guess not really a long time."

In fact, it wasn't a long time at all, if you look at another first-person account from Cher. In 1984, she told People that she and Kilmer spent "a week just talking before we kissed." She continued, "We had a friendship first. I was wondering if something was wrong with him. I don't know what he thought of me. But when we did kiss, I thought my head would shoot right off my body. I had to catch my breath." (In this interview, Cher said that it was Meryl Streep who threw her the party where they met.)

As reported by InStyle, Kilmer wrote in his 2020 memoir I'm Your Huckleberry that a "lady friend" (Streep?) told him he should meet Cher when they were out dining together in 1981. "Her name shocked me to the point that I spit out my spaghetti while exclaiming, 'No!'" Kilmer remembered. "I saw Cher as a less-than-fascinating character out of the gossip rags. I was not motivated to meet her, not out of snobbery but simply because I was sure we had nothing in common."

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Cher was concerned about their age gap.

Cher and Val Kilmer at a 1982 Tony Awards party
Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

While it was Kilmer who was hesitant about meeting Cher, she was the one who was more concerned about their age gap once they did start spending time together.

"He'd tell me about his dreams," Cher told People. "He took me to a Japanese performance of Macbeth and I was thinking this guy is nuts, we're not going to get along at all. He was so young. Was he 22? What was I? I don't know. Thirty something. It was a bigger deal back then."

But, Cher knew that younger men were actually a better fit for her. "The truth was if I hadn't gone out with younger men, I would have never had a date," she said. "Younger men weren't intimidated by older women. But older men in my age category, they weren't having it."

It seems this continued to be true for Cher. Today, she is in a relationship with Alexander Edwards, who is 40 years her junior.

She loved a lot of things about him.

Val Kilmer and Cher at the "Grease II" premiere party in 1982
Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

In the 2021 piece for People, Cher praised Kilmer's appearance ("He was so beautiful."), his sense of humor, how he helped her in her acting career, and how good he was with her children. (She has one child, Chaz Bono, from her marriage to Sonny Bono, and another child, Elijah Blue Allman, from her marriage to Gregg Allman.) "It went from madly in love and laughing hysterically to respecting each other's ability," she said.

Back in 1984, she described Kilmer as "sensitive, artistic, humor" and "a great kisser." She added, "My rule of thumb, and it's never failed me, is if a man's a good kisser he's a great [expletive]."

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They split because they both were "alpha males."

Val Kilmer and Cher at the 1983 Oscars
Barry King/WireImage via Getty Images

Cher hinted at the reason for her and Kilmer's split in the 2021 People story. "We had unbelievable times and then put up with some times when they weren't [that way] because we were both alpha males," she said. "We were both individuals and neither of us was going to give up on that."

But, in 1990, she told Vanity Fair, "Val left me." As reported by InStyle, Kilmer wrote in his book, "If I could describe our breakup, I would. But I can't because it never really happened, at least not formally. She never said, 'Val, I'm through with you,' and I never said, 'That's it, Cher. We're history.'"

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They remained friends.

Cher and Val Kilmer at a Bette Midler video party in 1984
Barry King/WireImage via Getty Images

Even though their relationship didn't work out, Cher and Kilmer, now 64, remained friends. He even lived in her guest house her after he was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2015.

"One night I suddenly awoke vomiting blood that covered the bed like a scene out of The Godfather. I prayed immediately, then called 911. Then alerted my hostess. Cher stepped in and stepped up," the Top Gun star wrote in his book (via People). He said that they kept their sense of humor during the ordeal as evidenced by Kilmer watching Cher check out a particularly attractive paramedic. "Cher was bashful to be busted but then couldn't help laughing out loud at the audacity," he wrote. "Here we were, joking about beauty and desire, while I looked like a stunt man from [Quentin] Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs and, yes, while my life seemed to be in mortal danger."

Cher talked about where they stand now, while praising her ex's documentary, Val, in her conversation with People. "I loved him—and I love him," she said. "He's a true artist and Renaissance man. He was sick and it didn't stop him. He created an extension of his art and his life. Look what he created and even the things he let you see that nobody would let you see. Even the worst things, he wanted to be in the documentary because he wanted to show you who he was."

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Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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