In 2014, Kilmer was told by doctors that he had throat cancer after finding a lump in his throat and waking up in pools of blood, according to the New York Times.
Kilmer, 60, is a Christian Scientist, meaning he typically doesn't seek traditional medical guidance, and he told the outlet that he suffered from the "suggestion of throat cancer," meaning “the idea is rather than say I have it or possess it, there is a claim, there’s a suggestion that this is a fact.”
Kilmer began to work with his spiritual advisor, or practitioner, to pray on the subject, hoping to avoid "manifest[ing] outwardly what can be diagnosed as a malady.” To do so, he'd have to leave for a time.
His non-Christian Scientist children, however, were uncomfortable with their father's decision to try to heal by himself.
“I just didn’t want to experience their fear, which was profound,” Kilmer remembered to the New York Times in an interview published on Wednesday. “I would’ve had to go away, and I just didn’t want to be without them.”
That year, he underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiation that "zapped my whole throat, and it’s still dry as a bone," leading him to have tracheostomy and feeding tubes installed.
Later, Kilmer began donning his now-signature scarves and denied claims made by Michael Douglas that they had suffered from cancer, writing on Facebook that he had "no cancer whatsoever."
When asked why he claimed not to have cancer, despite having all of the associated treatments, he simply said, “Because I didn’t have cancer.”
“They said I was denying that I had cancer, and when they asked me, I didn’t have cancer. It was a bit like do you have a broken bone? And if you broke it in high school, you would say no.” Kilmer stated to the outlet. “Suddenly suspect. I have had a bone broken, but why are you being so aggressive? I had a bone broken. It was broken in my leg. ‘Oh, so you have a broken leg.’ ‘No, no, I don’t,’ I say. I did have a broken leg.”
Despite receiving treatment from doctors, Kilmer maintains it was his faith that helped him.
“I prayed, and that was my form of treatment," he said.
While the throat cancer is gone -- or never existed in the actor's opinion -- he says his trach tube is causing him suffering now.
“That’s from radiation and chemotherapy. It’s not from cancer," he insisted, explaining again that prayer was his treatment and that it was the medical treatments that hurt him. "That ‘treatment’ caused my suffering.”
Nowadays, Kilmer is still chugging along in Hollywood, even returning to his "Top Gun" character for its upcoming sequel.
“I feel like I could not possibly be in a better place for attracting better and better roles,” said Kilmer. “If an actor is fortunate enough to do so, to steer their own course and own their own material, they control their own destiny, creating their own products.”
While he couldn't reveal much about "Top Gun: Maverick," he did note that these days, things are different between his Iceman and Tom Cruise's Maverick.
“We’re friends,” he said. “This time we’re friends.”