Watch Val Kilmer’s Fiery Clash With David Mamet Revealed in ‘Spartan’ Commentary

Val Kilmer
Val Kilmer

The 2004 thriller “Spartan” has been mostly forgotten, but it will always be remembered as the film that made Val Kilmer dislike David Mamet.

A viral Twitter thread has brought back interest in the DVD audio track for the movie.

In it, Kilmer insults his director Mamet for what Kilmer saw as pompous and sometimes abusive behavior on set. The movie is about trying to find the President’s stolen daughter. It was the first time Mamet and Kilmer worked together. From what the star said, it’s not surprising that it was their last time together.

The statements below are dialogue from Spartan’s (2004) DVD commentary clips. The clip is also given at the end.

“He’s cruel,” Kilmer said of Mamet. “He hates actors, having failed at the profession himself. There were a lot of tears on the set. It was tough, because you’d be playing a tough guy and he’d break you down. But in front of everyone too, he wouldn’t do it in the trailer. I hate him.”

Kilmer also said that he doesn’t agree with the playwright-turned-directors artistic decisions or his own problems.

“He writes in a lot of particular and sometimes complicated rhythms,” he said. “That’s why it’s so frustrating when he cuts all the good stuff. He messes up his own rhythm. I don’t understand him, except that he needs help.”

Kilmer often said that Mamet was surrounded on set by people who would never disagree with him. The actor said that he finally got fed up with Mamet’s favoritism when he had to play in a key scene with Mamet’s rabbi.

“That’s David’s rabbi,” he said. “I’m not even kidding. It sounds like I’m kidding, but that guy I just shot is David’s rabbi. See that’s what I mean by ‘sick.’ I wouldn’t have him shoot my practitioner in my film. Why does he have me shoot his rabbi? And why is his rabbi Irish?”

Kilmer says that Mamet was so worried about how the crew saw him that his helper made and sent out a weekly newsletter about the director’s best on-set moments.

“We had a thing called the Spartan Times, which was a newsletter produced every week by David’s assistant, basically to make David look good in front of the crew. So she would follow him around and write down any humorous thing he said, or make up stuff that she could attribute to David.”

Kilmer’s criticisms of Mamet often point to deep flaws in Mamet’s character, but he also found time to poke fun at Mamet’s looks.

“What I find amazing about him is his courage,” he said. “You have to be brave to still wear a beret in 2004.”

Watch all of Kilmer’s comments about Mamet in the video below.

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