Val Kilmer’s Daughter Reveals All About His ‘Challenging’ Battle With Throat Cancer

Val Kilmer, a Hollywood star known for starring in movies like Top Gun and Batman Forever, went public with his diagnosis with throat cancer back in 2017. At the time, he felt that he had no choice but to let his fans know what was happening, as he had to undergo a tracheotomy that affected his speech.

Three years later, Kilmer is starring in the new movie Paydirt with his 28-year-old daughter Mercedes, who said she is grateful for every moment she gets to spend with her 60 year-old father.

“It’s pretty historic to have a lead with a speech disability,” Mercedes told PEOPLE Magazine. “I hope that it heralds more doors opening like that in the future.”

This was Mercedes’ first time starring in a movie, so she relished getting to learn the ropes from her father on set.

“It’s obvious my dad’s speech is compromised and so this whole experience revealed the personal effort I had put into working with actors with a disability, which I hadn’t done before,” Mercedes explained. “It revealed how much I had to gain from working with people who have different abilities. My dad’s able to very artfully circumvent the limitations of his speech, so I learned so much watching him, how he communicated physically. It taught me so much about acting that expanded what I thought acting was, which was central to speech.”

As for Val, he said he’s learning “everything — life itself” from being with his daughter.

“My only gripe is that I never see [Mercedes and her brother Jack, 25] enough,” he added.

Mercedes went on to add that her father’s battle with cancer has brought them closer than ever before.

“The health challenges have been just that, challenging, but so many good things have come out of it,” she said. “We all spend so much time together. Even just getting to meet all my dad’s friends from before I was born — there are so many beautiful things that happen when you need help from people.”

“My dad is such a smart and creative person that I love hanging out with, even if he wasn’t my dad, too,” Mercedes added. “He’s a good friend of mine.”

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