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Val Kilmer's Director Said They Had "Physical Pushing Match" on Set of "Batman Forever"

The notoriously complicated actor clashed with Joel Schumacher and the crew.

Batman famously has lots of dangerous foes, but according to the director of Batman Forever, the real worry on the set of the 1995 film Batman Forever wasn't Two-Face or the Riddler, but Bruce Wayne himself. Val Kilmer, who donned the cape and cowl for just one movie after Michael Keaton stepped away from the role, was reportedly a pain to work with. In fact, filmmaker Joel Schumacher said that he and his star got into "a physical pushing match" while filming the picture. Read on to learn more about the alleged incident and Kilmer's combative reputation.

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

Kilmer developed a reputation for being difficult on sets.

Val Kilmer in 1995
Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images

Kilmer, now 64 years old, had become a very in-demand star in the lead-up to Batman Forever. His first film role was playing the lead of Top Secret!, a spy spoof from the makers of Airplane!, in 1984. After that came the college comedy Real Genius, then, in 1986, he played Iceman, Tom Cruise's Maverick's rival-turned-friend, in Top Gun.

The actor's star took off even further in the '90s with roles in hit movies including The Doors, Tombstone, True Romance, and Heat. But, for as much of a box-office draw as Kilmer was at that time, he was also followed by stories of on-set conflict.

In a 1996 Entertainment Weekly article titled "Val Kilmer makes enemies in Hollywood" compiled some of those impressions. Kevin Jarre, the writer and original director of 1993's Tombstone, in which Kilmer played Doc Holliday, said that there was "a dark side to Val." The Doors' filmmaker Oliver Stone explained that the star was "passionate about his work" but "with the wrong approach, you may see a side of him you don't like."

None of this deterred Schumacher from casting the opinionated star as his Batman, however.

"I had heard horror stories about Val and was warned not to hire him," the director told EW. "But I have heard that about many talented people, hired them anyway, and had no problems whatsoever."

RELATED: Joel McHale Says He Dislocated Chevy Chase's Shoulder in an On-Set Fight.

Schumacher claimed Kilmer was "rude and inappropriate" to the crew.

Despite Schumacher's faith, things evidently came to a head not too long into the Batman Forever shoot.

"He was being irrational and ballistic with the first AD, the cameraman, the costume people. He was badly behaved, he was rude and inappropriate," the director told EW of Kilmer, adding that matters escalated into a "physical shoving match" between him and his leading man.

Schumacher didn't detail exactly what went down during the altercation or who got physical first, but he did say that he chewed Kilmer out.

"I was forced to tell him that this would not be tolerated for one more second," Schumacher said. "Then we had two weeks where he did not speak to me, but it was bliss."

There was another notable feud in the Batman Forever cast.

Jim Carrey, Chris O'Donnell, Val Kilmer, Joel Schumacher, Nicole Kidman and Tommy Lee Jones in 1995
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc

There was consternation between two of the Batman Forever villains, as well.

While it didn't turn physical, Tommy Lee Jones, who played Two-Face, reportedly hated Jim Carrey, who played the Riddler. As reported by Us Weekly, during an appearance on The Howard Stern Show in 2014, Carrey told a story about stopping to hello to Jones at a restaurant where they both happened to be dining during the shoot.

"I went up to say hi and the blood drained from his face, in such a way that I realized that I had become the face of his pain or something," the Ace Ventura star said. "He got up, kind of shaking, and hugged me and said 'I hate you. I really don't like you.'" Carry went on, "I was like 'Wow, okay. Well, what's going on man?' And he said, 'I cannot sanction your buffoonery.' He did not want to work with me at that point."

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly during the production 1997's Batman & Robin (which neither actor was in), Schumacher said he'd noticed Jones' behavior towards Carrey on the previous film and didn't like it.

"Jim Carrey was a gentleman, and Tommy Lee was threatened by him," the director said. "I'm tired of defending overpaid, overprivileged actors. I pray I don't work with them again."

RELATED: George Clooney Says Director Tried to Physically Fight Him on Set.

It's unclear whether Kilmer was fired or quit the franchise.

Val Kilmer in 1996
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Despite various woes on the set and less-than-sterling reviews, Batman Forever was a huge hit and ended up being the third-highest-grossing movie of 1995. It was clear from the film's financial success that a sequel was in the cards, and Kilmer was initially expected to reprise the role.

According to the 1996 EW article, a Warner Bros. source said that Kilmer's contract actually locked him into playing Bruce Wayne in a second film. But when there was a potential scheduling issue between the July conclusion of filming The Saint for a rival studio and Batman & Robin's Aug. 1 start date, Kilmer played chicken with Warner Bros. only to have his bluff called. According to the insider, the actor threatened not to do the film, thinking that Warner Bros. would push the start date back. Instead, the studio released him from his contract and hired George Clooney instead.

"He sort of quit, we sort of fired him," Schumacher said of the incident. "It probably depends on who's telling the story."

Kilmer went on to star in several more major films in the late '90s and beyond, but his difficult reputation followed him. Not long after Batman Forever, he and Marlon Brando, another actor known for difficult behavior, clashed so badly on the set of 1996's The Island of Dr. Moreau that filming was delayed for weeks.

James Grebey
James has been an entertainment journalist for more than a decade, writing and editing for outlets like Vulture, Inverse, Polygon, TIME, The Daily Beast, SPIN Magazine, Fatherly, and more. Read more
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