'Mark Twain' at Pinkerton Academy with actor Val Kilmer
By ETHAN HOGAN
Union Leader Correspondent | March 16. 2017 12:51AM
The film is from the one-man play “Citizen Twain” that Kilmer performed at venues in Los Angeles and has now been adapted for the big screen.
The 90-minute film takes the viewer through the life of Twain, one of America’s most noted writers.
Novels such as “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” which explored what it meant to live in America in the 1800s, made Twain — whose real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens — a literary icon.
Twain was also a performer of comedy and Kilmer’s film is focused largely on Twain’s ability to entertain.
For the film, Kilmer said he has tried to capture the unique comedy of Twain, which is charming and kind, yet deeply honest and critical.
“We all know the truth when we hear it,” said Kilmer, “and we know motives.”
Kilmer said he has been working on the character for more than 17 years and that being about to absorb the laughter from the audience is a reward in itself.
“He's so outrageous and walks the highest high wire without a care in the world. He is a true comedy master and comedy is so immediate and rewarding. I mean the glow from a house that stops the show with laughter and applause is sweet, sweet reward,” said Kilmer.
Remembering his first experience reading Twain’s work, Kilmer said he was struck by the inner lessons of the stories.
“I was just like every American, forced to read him in grade school. I loved his hidden deep truths like Shakespeare — even in comedy he hits us with deep truth. Best way to storytell the hard stuff,” said Kilmer.
With full make-up and iconic white suit, Kilmer bears a striking resemblance to the renowned writer. In preparing for the role, Kilmer said he also felt emotionally connected to Twain because of their shared experience of losing loved ones.
Kilmer’s performance is largely comedic but Kilmer said Twain’s darker moments are also explored in the film.
“He's a true artist. He feels our pain. As Shakespeare said the actor or artist ‘...holds the mirror up to nature...’ that hurts and is hard to do,” said Kilmer.
The film, which is written, directed and performed by Kilmer will be shown at the Stockbridge Theatre at Pinkerton Academy in Derry on Friday night.
Kilmer will be in attendance and will be available for a question and answer session after the screening.