It’s been widely reported how much Val Kilmer disliked making Batman Forever and the miserable working relationship director Joel Schumacher had with him. The director previously called Kilmer “the most psychologically troubled human being I’ve ever worked with” while later praising him as “the best Batman.”
While there have been various reports over the years about why Kilmer didn’t reprise the role for Batman & Robin — conflicts with The Saint, Schumacher didn’t want him back — in a new interview, the actor recalled an incident on the set that crystalized for him why he needed to quit the role.
During a chat with The New York Times, Kilmer, who hated wearing the uncomfortable Batsuit, recounted how he learned business tycoon Warren Buffet and his grandchildren would be visiting the set that day so he kept his costume on even after he was done filming.
But when the Buffets arrived they didn’t want to meet with Kilmer; they just wanted to play with the Batmobile and try on the mask. Kilmer understood in that moment that, in the Times’ words, “Batman isn’t meant to be a real guy. Batman is meant to be so anonymous that the person who is looking at him can see himself in him.”
The idea that anyone could be Batman, that the character was about being nonspecific, soured Method actor Kilmer on the role.
“That’s why it’s so easy to have five or six Batmans,” Kilmer told the Times. “It’s not about Batman. There is no Batman.”
Val Kilmer’s new autobiography, I’m Your Huckleberry, is out now.