Val Kilmer, 62, is a Hollywood legend recognized for his roles in great films such as Top Gun, Real Genius, Willow, The Doors, The Ghost and the Darkness, and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. With the recent release of Top Gun: Maverick, his character, Tom “Iceman” Kazansky, returns, as does renewed interest in the actor.

But Val hasn’t had an easy road back to the franchise; the actor was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2015, and the ordeal nearly cost him his acting career. Here’s everything you need to know about the 7 Below actor’s battle with throat cancer and current health.

Val was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2015, but the Alexander actor said the lump was not cancerous. He took to social media to discuss his health after being admitted to UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, California, for neck bleeding and he denied having a tumor.

In January 2015, he expressed his gratitude for all of the great support on Facebook. “But I’ve never had a tumor, a tumor procedure, or any other form of surgery. I had a condition, and the cautious eye of the UCLA ICU was the right spot for me to obtain care.”

“Friends who are sensitive and compassionate, as well as those who are aware of my spiritual beliefs, have gone above and beyond to ensure that there is as little mindless chatter and gossip as possible. I’m looking for a swift return to the boards, as they say. Thank you, and may God bless you every one. Val, with deep love and affection.”

Michael Douglas’ health rumors intensified after the actor made comments that appeared to confirm the diagnosis. Val revealed his battle with throat cancer at an AMA on Reddit in 2017.

In answer to a fan’s direct question about Michael’s statements, Val stated, “He was probably trying to help me because press undoubtedly wondered where I was these days, and I did have cancer healing.  Despite constant recovery, my tongue remains swollen. People think I’m still sick since I don’t sound like myself.”

The actor’s voice was severely damaged by a tracheotomy after he endured painful rounds of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. In April 2020, he appeared on Good Morning America with a markedly changed voice, stating that he had been “diagnosed with throat cancer, which cured quite quickly.” When asked what he missed most about his legendary voice, the actor made a funny remark. “That I had one,” he laughed.

Val’s children Mercedes and Jack Kilmer prepared the courageous 2021 documentary about his fight with throat cancer. The same year, Sonantic, a UK-based AI-powered voice-cloning startup, magically recovered his prior voice.

The results are amazing. In a Sonantic video clip, Kilmer used the AI voice to declare, “My voice as I knew it was taken away from me.” “The people around me are having difficulty comprehending what I’m saying. Despite everything, I still think I am the same person. The same creative spirit is still present.”

“A soul that confidently imagines thoughts and stories, but I can now express myself once more, share these ideas with you, and once again disclose this aspect of me. An aspect that was never truly lost I was just skulking around.”

Despite being in remission from throat cancer, Val Kilmer says the experience changed him. “I was too serious,” he told in 2017 of his mental state before to being diagnosed with cancer. “I’d become irritated when things like Oscars and plaudits didn’t come my way,” he says.

Ting Poo, Val’s co-director, agrees that he has changed. “You wouldn’t expect someone of his reputation and celebrity to have the vanity he has,” she remarked. “There was never any of the artifice or precaution that famous people have to build around themselves. It’s humbling to be around people like them.”