How AI Brought Back Val Kilmer’s Voice For ‘Top Gun: Maverick’

How AI Brought Back Val Kilmer’s Voice For ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ (



from the Iceman-cometh dept.

“62-year-old Val Kilmer was just 26 when he played Iceman in the 1986 movie Top Gun,” remembers long-time Slashdot reader destinyland.

But in 2015 Kilmer lost his voice to throat cancer, remembers Parade:

In his 2020 memoir I’m Your Huckleberry, Kilmer joked that he has less of a frog in his throat and more of a “buffalo.” He said, “Speaking, once my joy and lifeblood, has become an hourly struggle.”

Kilmer has teamed up with Sonantic, a U.K.-based software firm that uses artificial intelligence to copy voices for actors and production studios, to replicate his speech, using old recordings of his voice and existing footage. Kilmer elaborates on the process of finding his voice again through AI in a video posted to YouTube in August 2021. In his new AI-enhanced voice, which does indeed emulate the speech audiences are familiar with, Kilmer says: “People around me struggle to understand me when I’m talking, but despite all that, I still feel I’m the exact same person, still the same creative soul. A soul that dreams ideas and stories constantly.

“But now I can express myself again, I can bring these dreams to you, and show you this part of myself once more. A part that was never truly gone, just hiding away.”

Kilmer’s health struggles, his childhood tragedies and his ambitious career were recently documented in the acclaimed 2021 feature-length doc Val, now streaming on Amazon Prime Video. Top Gun: Maverick screened at the Cannes Film Festival to rapturous reviews, with thunderous fanfare including an air show. Though reports say audiences gave the action picture (currently sitting at a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes) a five-minute standing ovation, with audible responses throughout the picture, mainly at the groundbreaking stunt work, it’s also been reported an audience-favorite scene is the “overwhelming” emotional response to the reunion of Tom Cruise and Kilmer.

Counting in octal is just like counting in decimal–if you don’t use your thumbs.
— Tom Lehrer


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