Richard Stanley’s version of the story can be found in David Gregory’s 2014 documentary “Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s ‘The Island of Dr. Moreau,'” and he believes Val Kilmer sabotaged him. Michael De Luca took responsibility in the ’96 EW piece for not giving “Kilmer a strong director,” but John Frankenheimer, a television and film veteran who’d directed the heavy-hitting likes of Burt Lancaster, Frank Sinatra, and Lee Marvin, also failed to rein in the troublemaking star. Marlon Brando wasn’t about to be outdone in terms of disruption, so he kicked off a game of trailer chicken that resulted in a 12-day delay with zero shooting. Kilmer dropped by Brando’s trailer, at which point the method-acting legend told his younger co-star, “Your problem is you confuse your talent with the size of your paycheck.”
Less amusing is the time Kilmer burned a camera operator with a lit cigarette. Executive producer Tim Zimmerman claims he singed the man’s sideburn, but another witness told EW, “He burned that cameraman right on his face, and no, he wasn’t fooling around. It was intentional. He did apologize to the crew.” The finished film was critically lambasted and a box-office flop. Frankenheimer, who’d score a well-deserved, late-career comeback with 1998’s “Ronin,” had this to say of his star. “I don’t like Val Kilmer, I don’t like his work ethic, and I don’t want to be associated with him ever again.”
And yet, when asked about the production in 2017, Kilmer spoke wistfully about the experience.