Not even a six-year struggle with throat cancer and a tracheotomy can keep Val Kilmer, 60, down.

Largely absent from the screen while he battled health issues, he couldn’t resist the opportunity to reprise his Iceman role opposite Tom Cruise in the sequel Top Gun: Maverick, the film’s much-anticipated release now postponed until 2021.

If Kilmer’s increasingly bizarre appearance led to much speculation over recent years, then he came clean a few months ago in his autobiography, I’m Your Huckleberry: A Memoir, detailing his nightmare ordeal and how he sought solitude, hiding at former girlfriend Cher’s home.

Interviewed by The New York Times, his forever-altered voice was described as “something between a squeak and a voiceless roar”, so it remains to be seen (or heard) how that plays out on screen.

With his chiseled good looks and defined pout, he was once the ultimate playboy, dating Darryl Hannah, Cindy Crawford and Angelina Jolie, starring in hit films including the aforementioned Top Gun, Heat, Batman Forever, Tombstone, and portraying Jim Morrison in The Doors.

The Doors (1991)

Falling for British actress Joanne Whalley on their film Willow in 1988, they wed and had daughter Mercedes, now 28, and son Jack, 25, before separating in 1996.

Between his weight gain and bloated facial features, leading many to think he had undergone plastic surgery, Kilmer’s career waned. No longer invited to headline blockbusters, he appeared in indies like 7 Below (2012) and Jay and Silent Bob Reboot (2019).

Left to his own devices, he developed a passion for Mark Twain, portraying the author in Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn (2014) as well as writing a play, Citizen Twain, and subsequent comedy based on his play, Cinema Twain (2019).

After years spent hiding the details of his illness, the truth has set him free, and only COVID stands in the way of his welcome return to Hollywood.