Street Film recently spoke with Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer, stars of the upcoming comedy-thriller Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, about drugs, gay detectives, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Street Film: Robert, do you ever feel as though you've been pigeonholed by American critics and robbed of the recognition you deserve because of your highly publicized struggle with drug addiction?
Robert Downey Jr.: I was robbed--
Val Kilmer: I'll answer that on behalf of Robert. He won't admit it, but yes, of course he feels robbed. He's vindictive and an angry, angry man now that he's hitting his 40's. [Laughs] No, he couldn't be happier. I know I've heard Robert say this often of Robert, that he feels you get the roles that you're supposed to get. Literally, I don't understand what that means.
RD: Robert has always believed that Robert creates Robert's own reality, Robert.
VK: Let Val discuss you, Robert. I do believe this, though: I think I could speak for both of us even though you asked the question to Robert. He's just getting started. He has not been tapped. I believe this sincerely. You're going to see extraordinary work when the great directors work with him because he's so facile. I think directors have been bamboozled by him because it comes easy to him.
RD: It hurts a little bit, but I try not to think on it; like a bug bite.
SF: Val, most of your recent work, like Alexander, Spartan and Mindhunters, you've had to play a really serious role. Was it nice to break out of that seriousness by playing Perry Van Shrike, a character who is also openly gay?
VK: It sure was. I've been looking to do a comedy for years and been denied or been unlucky. I've always loved Robert's work.
RD: It was as if [director] Shane Black wrote this for him; it's dynamic, interesting. Believe it or not, for Val's [character] Gay Perry, even though the character's proclivities are so different than his, it gave him a forum to be as witty, funny and as butch and self-effacing as you can imagine.
SF: Val, you do a lot of research into your characters, and this film has a lot of influence from noir films. Have you studied any noir film or has it influenced you as an actor in general?
VK: I love noir. Maybe loved it more when I was younger. When you get into a certain level of being a fan or devotee in any discipline you start getting into the more obscure films. I've spent quite a few years watching them. I was very familiar with it. Color noir is literally or technically impossible, but I think Chinatown is a color noir that's quite beautiful. This has a lot of tributes to it out of the detective genre as well and Pulp Fiction. It's part of the fun of the story. I didn't really need to do any research.
SF: You guys seem to have a really great chemistry between the characters. How did you develop that?
RD: You know what it's like. Do you have a best friend? Well, how did you guys develop being best friends? You just hit it off right away and it was like you'd known each other your whole lives. [Val] is so endearing and he's so brilliant and educated and uneducatable and artistically inclined. He literally is like saying, "Oh, that's what an artist looks like and that's what an artist does." It's so rare that you see that. I've been around for a long time and I've always wondered when I was going to meet the real deal. That's Val K.
VK: I have a gun to Robert's head. That's why he's saying this stuff.
SF: Artistically speaking, what do you hope this film accomplishes?
VK: Personally, I've been looking to do a comedy for years and have been unlucky; either wanted it and they wouldn't give it to me or I couldn't find one that was stimulating. I would just be very, very happy to do a bunch of lighthearted, fun movies for several years. I've played a lot of dark guys and I would love to work with Robert again and Shane Black.
SF: What tabloid-worthy gossip can the two of you offer about each other?
RD: Val's swimming pool is maintained at a temperature in which you could steam lobsters, Robert.
VK: There's nothing to say [about Robert]. He's ridiculous. I'll tell you something: He uses a whole bar of soap in the shower, in one single shower. He'll go through a bar of soap. Now, that's weird. He cleaned my trailer. He comes over to my house; he'll start scrubbing.
RD: What do you call that?
VK: It's obsessive-compulsive.
RD: I call it a triple-wipe bowel movement, Robert.
VK: They're going to have to edit you, boy.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang opens nationwide this Friday.