Val Kilmer: Doc Holliday vs. Jim Morrison

Val Kilmer Movie roles

One actor. Two film roles. You tell us which portrayal was the best. The most memorable. Or iconic. Or simply your favorite.

But before you pass judgment, a few words defending the “character” of each…

The case for Jim Morrison

Say what you want about the historical accuracy of director Oliver Stone’s The Doors one thing is for certain: it is spooky how realistically Val Kilmer nailed his part as the Lizard King. From his looks and mannerisms to actual singing ability Kilmer pretty much embodied the Doors’ enigmatic lead singer/songwriter. It was a role Kilmer was born to play.

The case for Doc Holliday

It should have been Kurt Russell’s film. After all, Russell (as Wyatt Earp) was its lead star—and, as revealed only just recently, de facto director of Tombstone as well. But it is Kilmer whom you just can’t take your eyes off. His Doc Holliday may be sweaty and pasty faced due to tuberculosis but as he says “I’m in my prime.” Indeed, Kilmer as well.


Now that you’ve heard the arguments for both it’s time to render your verdict!


  • ganderson

    “I’ll be your huckleberry.”

    • rogerscorpion

      Actually, it was “Ah’m your huckleberry”.

      • williamsommerwerck

        The word is not romantic. It means “necessary or useful thing”. Doc uses it ironically before he kills the guy who wants to take down Wyatt Earp.

        • rogerscorpion

          Who said anything was ‘romantic’, William?

          • williamsommerwerck

            No one. But it /sounds/ affectional.

          • rogerscorpion

            Oh–ok. LOL. That never crossed my mind. Throughout the film, Doc referenced fruits & flowers (‘peach of a hand;, ‘you’re no daisy’,…), so I just figured it fit in there.

          • williamsommerwerck

            I see what you mean. It’s actually a nineteenth-century expression. I’ve been unable to track down the origin.

            I have a ceramic cup with Kilmer as Doc, and “I’m your huckleberry.”

  • Coynebooy

    Without a doubt – doc Holliday!

  • rogerscorpion

    Well, Kurt had the infinite wisdom, to stay out of Kilmer’s way & allow him to steal the film. I’m dumbfounded as to why Kilmer’s career didn’t skyrocket, after ‘Tombstone’. He deserved an Oscar nomination. Leonard Maltin even called him “the screens best-ever Doc Holliday”. Poor Dennis Quaid, who did an excellent Doc in ‘Wyatt Earp”, the next year, couldn’t escape Kilmer’s shadow.

  • Clint Techmeyer

    I agree with everyone else although I’m a huge Doors fan and think Val Kilmer was great in that as well. VK’s Doc Holliday is simply epic!

  • Mzzlady

    Doc holiday….. Easy choice…..

  • Doctor Doom

    Doc Holiday by a mile.

  • Evelyn Nesbitt

    Holiday and Morrison are both evidence of Kilmer’s talent. However, Holiday is the more likeable character.

  • BH

    Doc Holliday is the more likeable character, but I feel certain that the Jim Morrison portrayal required more of Mr Kilmer. Seems like Jim Morrison was a pretty complicated individual.

  • Taters Mom

    Val Kilmer was the walking, talking, singing, living, essence of Jim Morrison….. He could have portrayed Doc Holiday any way he wanted….no one would ever know the difference. We all know how Jim Morrison walked, talked, sang, looked and every nuance of his unique mannerisms…everything has been recorded and is able to be viewed, but all we have is written word on Holiday, nothing to debate for the audience. We can’t say “Doc Holiday didn’t walk like that, or talk like that, or do anything like that”…because we don’t know any of that. So his challenge was that much more difficult for Kilmer to get it right….millions of fans around the world would spot a fake in a heartbeat. So for Kilmer to nail Morrison to a T…and to be able to sing on top of it….just like Morrison I may add….well, it was just way beyond what he did with Holiday’s portrayal.

    • RB

      Who is Jim Morrison ?

      • Wayne P.

        A early member of the ’27 club’. Famous celebs who passed at that age from self-induced causes. Includes many famous musicians, among other, including Robert Johnson (father of the blues), Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, and, of course, Jim Morrison, lead singer of the Doors rock band!

  • awawrdsn

    The Doors movie was great but I gotta go with Tombstone he nailed Doc Holliday I liked the whole movie but Kilmer kept me watching . Also I have the picture of them walking to the OK Corall and they all signed it personally! But he did have to do more with Morrison mostly because he’s not only a singer he’s a legend you gotta get it right or close to it especially for the fans cause they will let you know if you disrespect the memory of the person your trying to portray.

  • 423reed

    Val Kilmer’s portrayal of Doc Holiday in ‘Tombstone’ was, in my opinion. outstanding. I thought it was an Oscar quality performance. I think he stole the movie from Kurt Russell too. Dennis Quad was also exceptional in the same role in ‘Wyatt Earp’. Kilmer was also terrific as Jim Morrison.

  • Capoman

    Doc Holliday. Why he wasn’t the Best Supporting Actor for Tombstone is beyond me. Every time I see Tombstone I’m still amazed by his performance.

  • cshea

    He is a really good actor, no matter what character he portrays.

  • Blue Carbuncle

    As an actor, Val Kilmer took the Doc Holliday role and made it his own. He made you believe in the character and stole the movie. BUT, Taters mom is right. When an actor has to portray another person whom everyone (of a certain generation at least) knows all about and does it so well that you would swear it was Morrison on the screen, then that actor has accomplished the ultimate feat of his profession. Kudos to Kilmer for doing both these roles so well that it sparks such a debate as this.

  • Ran

    I have seen Tombstone many times and just can’t get over the phenomenal job VK did portraying Doc Holiday! It is my favorite, but doesn’t take away from the amazing job he did in the Doors. He is an incredible actor…