ABOVE: JACK KILMER IN LOS ANGELES, NOVEMBER 2013. HOODIE: AMERICAN APPAREL. T-SHIRT: A|X ARMANI EXCHANGE. JEANS: TOPMAN. STYLING: DAVID THOMAS. GROOMING: CHARLES McNAIR/JED ROOT.
When Jack Kilmer, son of Val, was a first grader at the progressive Center for Early Education in Los Angeles, he went to an after-school program in which Gia Coppola, granddaughter of Francis Ford, was among the sixth graders tasked with looking after him. Twelve years later, in 2012, Coppola, now herself a budding director, was adapting James Franco’s collection of teenager-driven short stories, Palo Alto, for the screen. She looked around for adolescents she knew and ended up hanging out with Kilmer and his cohorts for inspiration. Kilmer even helped with development, doing a table read with Coppola before she started auditions. Impressed, she encouraged him to try out for the role of Teddy, one of the film’s troubled, turbulent protagonists—and just like that, there was another Kilmer with a spot on IMDB. “He’s got great taste and his own unique sensibility,” says Coppola of Kilmer. “It makes you want to watch him.” Palo Alto, which is out in May, will be the first opportunity for doing just that, as the 18-year-old Kilmer had done virtually no acting before walking onto set. “I’ve always had other creative outlets,” he explains. “But I found by doing the movie that none of those are mutually exclusive. I noticed that so many things I was into—music, art—had to do with characters.” Over tea with lots of sugar at West Hollywood’s Palihouse hotel, it’s clear that Kilmer, who graduated from high school in 2013, is as much a typical West Coast teen as he is a rising star. He skateboards, loves Raymond Chandler, and just saw Blink-182 in concert. Growing up with both parents as actors (his mother is author Joanne Whalley), Kilmer traveled a lot as a kid, spent a lot of time on sets, and was used to “actors around the dinner table.” Still, there’s much to be gleaned from his father’s winding path through the industry. “It could be applied to anything in life,” Kilmer says of the advice he’s received from his dad on navigating Hollywood. “Just be respectful.” He notes that his relationship with his father has grown closer with his foray into acting (Val even makes a cameo in Palo Alto). “We can relate on a whole other level,” he says. “It was exciting to read a script with him.” Having originally planned to take time off before college, Kilmer is now auditioning for future films and just started shooting the coming-of-age tale Aaron Baby Superfecta with Elle Fanning. “It’s about kids in love,” he says with a shrug. “But it’s more complicated than that.”
GROOMING PRODUCTS: BUMBLE AND BUMBLE, INCLUDING SURF SPRAY AND GROOMING CREME. SPECIAL THANKS: MILK STUDIOS.