Me: You mean you think you literally had the same experience as Doc Holliday?Kilmer: Oh, sure. It's not like I believed that I shot somebody, but I absolutely know what it feels like to pull the trigger and take someone's life.You understand how it feels to shoot someone as much as a person who has actually committed a murder?I understand it more. It's an actor's job. A guy who's lived through the horror of Vietnam has not spent his life preparing his mind for it. He's some punk. Most guys were borderline criminal or poor, and that's why they got sent to Vietnam. It was all the poor, wretched kids who got beat up by their dads, guys who didn't get on the football team, couldn't finagle a scholarship. They didn't have the emotional equipment to handle that experience. But this is what an actor trains to do. I can more effectively represent that kid in Vietnam than a guy who was there.I don't question that you can more effectively represent it, but that's not the same thing. If you were talking to someone who's in prison for murder and the guy said, "Man, it really fucks you up to kill another person," do you think you could reasonably say, "I completely know what you're talking about"?Oh yeah. I'd know what he's talking about.Let's say someone made a movie about you--Val Kilmer--and they cast Jude Law in the lead role. By your logic, wouldn't this mean that Jude Law--if he succeeded in the role--would therefore understand what it means to be Val Kilmer more than you do?No, because I'm an actor. The people in those other circumstances don't have the self-knowledge.Well, what if it were a movie about your young life, before you became an actor?I guess I'd have to say yes.Okay, so let's assume you had been given the lead role in The Passion of the Christ. Would you understand the feeling of being crucified as much as Jesus?Well, I just played Moses [in a theatrical version of The Ten Commandments]. Of course.So you understand the experience of being Moses? Maybe I'm just taking your words too literally.No, I don't think so. That's what acting is.I keep asking Kilmer if he is joking, and he swears he is not. However, claiming that he's not joking might be part of the joke. A few weeks later, I paraphrased the preceding conversation to Academy Award--winning conspiracy theorist Oliver Stone, the man who directed Kilmer in 1991's The Doors and 2004's Alexander. He did not find our exchange surprising. "This has always been the issue with Val," Stone said via cell phone as his son drove him around Los Angeles. "He speaks in a way that is propelled from deep inside, and he doesn't always realize how the things he says will sound to other people. But there is a carryover effect from acting. You can never really separate yourself from what you do, and Val is ultrasensitive to that process."