TORONTO (Zap2it.com) -- No, when Val Kilmer accepted the role of porn star John Holmes, known for his prodigious appendage, he wasn't worried about taking his pants off.
"Nah, I had nothing to worry about," smiles the off-beat actor, who's known for taking off-beat real people roles.
Sure, he heard about Mark Wahlberg walking around with a prosthetic in his pants in order to play Holmes in "Boogie Nights," but Kilmer teases Zap2it.com by saying, "I didn't need to do that."
What 43-year-old Kilmer worries about is that he's once again playing a real person in the upcoming film "Wonderland" about Holmes' involvement in four murders in 1981. Kilmer's known for playing Jim Morrison in "The Doors," Doc Holliday in "Tombstone," Willem DeKooning in "Pollock" and even the voice of Moses in "Prince of Egypt." He's played the true story of a hunter in "The Ghost and the Darkness," Billy the Kid in a TV movie and recreated the true story of a crime in "Thunderheart."
"It happens a bunch, I don't know anyone who's done as many real people as me," Kilmer muses. "It's not that I sought out biographies, they usually don't work. I'm lucky that I've been in some of the best of the genre."
He's also played Batman in "Batman Forever," been an astronaut in "Red Planet" and a pilot in "Top Gun," but in his latest role, he feels a responsibility to capturing the real person because he's worked closely with both the ex wife Sharon Holmes and former lover Dawn Schiller of the famed porn star, who were both consultants on the set. In fact, the wedding ring he wears in the film is actually Holmes real ring, loaned by Sharon.
"They helped me out and I pieced quite a bit of things together," Kilmer says. "It was better than watching his porn movies, those don't interest me -- all that bad acting."
But Kilmer did watch documentaries and interviews about Holmes and talked to many porn actors who knew the superstar who became a drug addict and died of AIDS.
"This is a guy who made 2,000 porn films, slept with 5,000 women and hated it," Kilmer explains. "But he loved women, and most men live in fear of women -- correctly so -- most men are properly terrified of women."
Known as an actor who delves into his roles, Kilmer says he wasn't showing a glamorous side of Holmes, or porn, but the decline of a superstar led by excesses.
"He had an odd set of principles and that really gripped me, but he was driven mad by his cocaine addiction," says Kilmer, who explored drug addiction many times on screen with "Salton Sea," "The Doors" and "The Island of Dr. Moreau." "I never experienced anything even remotely like that, to be so high you're not high anymore is a strange thing."
He remembers M.C. Gainey, who plays one of the detectives, saying, "That's a cocaine decision." Holmes didn't make many great decisions, Kilmer figures.
The cast consists of Janeane Garafalo, Lisa Kudrow, Kate Bosworth, Natasha Gregson Wagner, Christina Applegate, Dylan McDermott, Eric Bogosian, Josh Lucas, Tim Blake Nelson, Carrie Fisher and many other notable names who joined the low-budget 28-day film. Kilmer says many of the cast and crew talked about their own drug experiences on the set.
"Everyone knew somebody who died [of an overdose], and this was kind of a way to give something back," Kilmer says. "I don't know if this movie can or will do that."
Lucas ("The Hulk," "Sweet Home Alabama") admits, "I don't have the cleanest background, but it was fascinating to hear people talking about their '80s experiences."
The character Lucas plays is the one who dominates Kilmer's character, doing things like forcing him to pull his pants down at parties. Lucas says, "Val is amazing to watch, he immediately became part of the Wonderland gang and I had to deny my liking him to do my character."
Bosworth ("Blue Crush") says Kilmer mesmerized her much like his character did to women. "He's brilliant, he has his own process of working and he'll throw something in the middle of the scene and you either play along or sit there shell-shocked. He raised the bar for me and that was good. In every scene he would do something insane."
For example, their laughing and falling down the stairs was unplanned and ad-libbed in a drug-induced sex romp interrupted by Fisher's ultra-religious character early in the film.
Kilmer calls Holmes a world class hustler. "He finds what you like and works it. And hustling is different than pornography, but everyone I met in pornography said it was the lowest rung on the entertainment ladder. But, it's the same thing, it's entertainment with people just taking their clothes off."
Dressed in a blue shirt with his sleeves rolled up and jeans, Kilmer sports long hair, a beard and a sunburned face. He's prepping for a bunch of movies, "Alexander," "Spartan," "Mind Hunters," "Delgo," "Blind Horizon" and has the upcoming "The Missing" coming out, but right now he's trying to shake off the ghost of Holmes by pursing a different artistic outlet.
Kilmer and some of the cast have taken photos, written poetry and created collages of their work during "Wonderland." He has opened the display in Canadian museums during the Toronto International Film Festival where his movie has premiered. Their 400 pieces of art have already appeared in museums in London and Russia and will go on tour as the film opens across the country and expands wider in October and November.
"Acting is a gift and I enjoy doing it in a safe environment, but it can also be intense and dramatic," Kilmer says. "I try to create something where you can be touched and moved and go away unharmed, and this work is a release for me now that it's over."
"Wonderland" opens wide across the country Oct. 17.