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The Doors
Still from “The Doors”Courtesy of Tristar

How Val Kilmer mastered Jim Morrison’s mannerisms

The actor made a surprise post on Reddit to share footage of a rehearsal for his iconic role

Val Kilmer had to go to therapy after he finished filming Oliver Stone’s The Doors because he couldn’t shake his character. He played Jim Morrison in the biopic. A year before cameras started rolling, Kilmer dressed like Morrison, listened to his music, and examined his way of speech. He flat out lived like the Lizard King. The actor learned 50 songs from The Doors catalogue and painstakingly studied Morrison’s mannerisms so he could get them down to a T. All of it chalked up to a stunning performance by Kilmer, but by-and-large not an interesting film.

The Doors follows the band’s inception all the way up to frontman Jim Morrison’s death in 1971 at age 27. (He is famously listed as one of the members of the “27 club” and buried in Paris’ Père Lachaise cemetery, where he receives daily visits from fans.) The biopic dives into his alcoholism, his free-loving hippie ways and his relationship with Pamela Courson.

On Reddit, home of all things surprising and unexpected, Kilmer shared “a typical rehearsal session preparing for The Doors movie at Whiskey a Gogo.” The short clip shows Kilmer and his movie bandmates prepping for a scene by practicing the band’s hit, “LA Woman”. “I was working hard getting my mannerisms down and trying to get that same edge the Lizard King had,” he says.

Someone on Reddit commented that when they watched the movie, they mistook Kilmer for Jim Morrison because of the accuracy of his portrayal of the late rocker. “It still boggles me to this day to seeing people with a tattoo of me playing him and not knowing it isn't Jim,” Kilmer replied. “Happens more than you think.”

Another asked what he would’ve changed watching it now, as the “leading expert on Morrison’s mannerisms”. “A tiny less sneer maybe,” Kilmer wrote back. “By the time I did this I pretty much had him down as much as I was gonna.”