May 3, 2012

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Val Kilmer, Mark Twain, and One Very Special Undergraduate

By Sarah Alban

It's 1 p.m. on a Tuesday, and you're sitting in Dulany Auditorium at William Woods University in Fulton, Missouri, where you and a thousand other undergraduates are suffering through finals week, and then Val Kilmer asks, "You had a final this morning?"

And he's asking you.  Not a bunch of people.

Staring down from a stage maybe five rows ahead of you, the face of Bruce Wayne, Gay Perry, Moses, and Iceman (variously) looks down at you and waits for an answer, which you squeeze out through a smile and a half-finished yawn.  Val Kilmer has just caught you yawning, and now he's asking you about your morning final.

"Did you pass?"  he asks and waits for an answer. 

It was Tuesday, May 1, 2012: the day Val Kilmer and a William Woods University undergraduate talked about the undergraduate's final.  

Fulton is feeling pretty special this week, because Val has brought his three-year Mark Twain project, a play called Citizen Twain, to Dulany Auditorium for one night. 

Val has been working on the Citizen Twain script for three years and on a movie screenplay, Mark Twain and Mary Baker Eddy, which he's also directing and producing, for eight years. 

"I wanted to find a story—and I did—that would keep me interested from day to day," Val says.

The story he dived into was that of Mary Baker Eddy, who wrote about God, and Mark Twain, who wrote about Mary Baker Eddy.  The movie's website sums up how that dynamic worked:

"In public, Twain satirized Eddy without mercy, using language that’s still wickedly funny. In private, he was consumed with questions about mind and body, life and death, illusion and reality, which he suspected only she could answer."

Val calls Twain a genius, but he says writing a movie about a writer isn't easy.  To a crowd of about 100 during a Q&A open to university students and press, he asks if anyone can think of a good movie about a writer.  


And more. 

Nobody is saying a thing.

Not even, "Mark Twain and Mary Baker Eddy," cheekily.

And then, finally, someone mercifully suggests, "Adaptation?"

And that's at least partially why a screenplay about Mark Twain is progressing through its eighth year, aging and becoming sharper.  Val has also taken some time to spend with his son. 

Val will accept an honorary doctorate Saturday morning at WWU and give the undergraduates' commencement speech, too. 

As for movies about writers: Barton FinkCapoteMiseryAdaptation.  And, likely, Mark Twain and Mary Baker Eddy.

Find more about the film here:


May 3, 2012

Comments (2)

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There are more times then not when I wish I had an opportunity to be in this man presence. The man being none other than Val Kilmer. What an extraordinary man as he is an actor! I am most certain that this Citizen Twain one-man-show is remarkable! I wanna see...

If they found me out... more than 1 years ago

Val Kilmer AKA Citizen Twain

What better place than Missouri to do a scene about Mark Twain and his days working on the Riverboat.
Missouri..home of Samuel Clemens AKA: Mark Twain..such a lucky place to be early in May 2012 and being privy to seeing Val Kilmer demonstrate his favorite passion....stories about Mark Twain. If you are lucky you will get to hear about his new screenplay Twain-Eddy.
I hear Kilmer is on the road depicting Mark Twain in scenes he will use in his new screenplay....he is gaining ideas as he performs and has a question/answer portion of his performance where is he is getting feedback and learning to perfect his performance.
Big wheel keep on turning...ride that Riverboat Val, make us proud....

Bernice Policastro more than 1 years ago

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