In recent months, American icon Val Kilmer reached out to fans on Reddit’s “Ask Me Anything” while promoting his directorial debut and cross-country tour of Cinema Twain. The film captures his award-winning one-man play Citizen Twain in which Kilmer takes on the role of the classic author and humorist Mark Twain.

The Juilliard graduate boasts a resume of intense eclectic roles ranging from dramatic to comedic, and to top it off, he sings. He’s also known to prepare for his characters with meticulous detail and precision. Indeed, for his Cinema Twain role, Kilmer spent ten years immersing himself in research, writing, and rehearsing to deliver his uncanny and heartfelt performance.

On Reddit, when someone asked Kilmer what advice he had for actors aspiring to break into the business, the star described the never-say-die commitment it requires. He wrote:

“Work till you cry yourself to sleep every night for months on end. Work so hard you pass out and wake up crying. Become a world class athlete. Read Shakespeare every day to learn about human nature. EVERY DAY. FOR DECADES. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever take a day off. And never complain. It’s the best job on earth and worth it when you break through. They say Dustin Hoffman couldn’t act his way out of a paper bag, and I knew Kevin Spacey since he was like 15 and he was sooooooooooo bad it used to hurt my eyes. But boy did he work hard and deserves all his awards.”

When a fan asked Kilmer if he ever felt typecast because of his looks and if he believed he missed out on any roles, Kilmer concisely replied, “I have never been typecast. Made sure of that.” Although the Los Angeles native was known for his pretty-boy looks, he purposely navigated his career towards a variety of roles. For example, Kilmer turned down Patrick Swayze’s role in the 1987 romantic drama Dirty Dancing because he didn’t want to be perceived as a “hunk.”

Other work listed on Kilmer’s resume includes the cocky Naval aviator Iceman in Top Gun, Batman in Batman Forever, rebellious singer and poet Jim Morrison in The Doors film, the gambling gunfighter Doc Holliday in Tombstone, Moses and the voice of God in The Prince of Egypt as well as a lesser known roles like the blind masseur in At First Sight and a raging alcoholic in Joe the King. Certainly Kilmer has endured his share of ups and downs in his career. After all, he was once an A-list star, but over the past decade or so roles have been harder to come by for a variety of reasons. Kilmer has notoriously turned down choice roles like Neo from The Matrix; some of his projects have been poorly received; and rumors that he’s difficult to work with probably haven’t helped matters. But he told his Reddit fans he has “No regrets about show business but I lived in the wilderness of Pecos in New Mexico to save myself.”

Kilmer has been struggling with speech difficulties recently due to a swelling of his tongue. Previously he attributed the swelling to the results of a procedure. However, he revealed through his Reddit posts that he indeed is “healing of cancer.” Wishing him all the best!