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'The Saint' is variation on old theme for Kilmer

scenes April 7, 1997
Web posted at: 5:30 a.m. EST

From Correspondent Sherri Sylvester

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Millionaire crime-fighter sounds vaguely familiar when it comes to Val Kilmer's list of film credits.

This time, however, Kilmer has shed his caped crusader character to become "The Saint." And as it turns out, this story is more like "Mission: Impossible" than "Batman Forever."

There are numerous disguises, including that of a Russian maid and a lecherous journalist.

"The housekeeping babushka lady -- that took some courage to leave my trailer, because I had a big raccoon on my head," Kilmer laughs.

Kilmer says it's because of all the zany characters that he jumped at the chance to do the film.

"It was a chance to create a lot of different characters and do things that were potentially hideously embarrassing or just hard to do," he says.

But the actor created more than his multiple characters. According to the film's producer, he also improvised love scenes with co-star Elisabeth Shue.

"I owe a lot of that to Val because he is such a perfectionist, and he really inspired me to become a collaborator," Shue says of the steamy scenes.

While other filmmakers have tagged Kilmer difficult, his saintly cast and crew repeatedly referred to him as a perfectionist.

"That's why I never believe rumors, because I think personalities interact differently depending on what the material is," Shue says.

In this film, Kilmer clearly values the chance to create something new over an encore performance of the tried and true.

"He survives by his wits," he says of his character, Simon Templar. "It's just stimulating to work out ideas from a character who's smart."

 
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Related sites:

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  • The Saint (Official movie site)
  • The Saint (A WWW Reference to the Immortal Works of Leslie Charteris and his Saint Saga)
  • Movieweb - The Saint

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