Sam Elliott Went To the ‘Tombstone’ Set Just To Watch Val Kilmer Work

by Clayton Edwards
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When Tombstone came out in 1993, it blew audiences away. The cast included greats like Kurt Russell, Sam Elliott, and Bill Paxton. On top of that, it was a great retelling of the legend of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. However, Val Kilmer was the real star of the film. His portrayal of Doc Holliday is nothing short of iconic. Even now, almost thirty years later, fans are raving about Kilmer’s outstanding performance.

However, before fans got a glimpse of Kilmer’s turn as Holliday, Sam Elliott took notice. He worked alongside him on the film and was so impressed by what he saw that he showed up on his days off just to watch Val Kilmer work. For anyone else, that would be impressive. However, Elliott prefers to be at home with his family and away from Hollywood as often as possible. So, his showing up speaks volumes to the level of admiration he had for his co-star’s performance.

Recently, Sam Elliott sat down with The Hollywood Reporter to discuss his involvement in the Yellowstone prequel series 1883 and the rest of his long career. Of course, Tombstone came up in the conversation.

Sam Elliott on Watching Val Kilmer Work

The interviewer asked if Sam Elliot had watched Val Kilmer’s documentary and added that it contains great production footage from Tombstone.

“I am embarrassed to say that I have not seen it yet, but I have heard nothing but raves about it,” Sam Elliot said. He added that Tombstone fans are especially vocal about their love of the documentary. He also added that he’s a huge fan of Val Kilmer. “I would go to the Tombstone set and watch Val work even when I wasn’t called that day. What he did with Doc Holliday, to me, was the best stuff in the film.” It would be hard to find anyone who disagrees.

Sam Elliot’s respect for Val Kilmer goes beyond his work on Tombstone. In fact, it goes beyond his impressive acting chops. “[Val Kilmer] is a good man and he’s a brilliant actor,” Elliot told The Hollywood Reporter.

Tombstone’s Production Issues

Today, we can look back at Tombstone and see a modern classic. However, the film had more than its fair share of issues while filming. Sam Elliot opened up about that during the interview as well.

“Kevin Jarre wrote that screenplay, which is what brought all the actors to it, I believe. But Kevin was an inexperienced director. They stuck with him for a month and then replaced him with George Cosmatos.” However, it wasn’t just a change or director that had them on edge. The Kevin Costner-led Wyatt Earp was in production at the same time. As a result, Kurt Russell was worried about the fate of Tombstone. “But Kurt held it together,” Elliott recalled. “and we had all the elements, and then George came in. It went well.” Talk about an understatement.  

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