Val Kilmer lost his voice after a battle with throat cancer

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Val Kilmer
Credit: Rob Kim/Getty

Val Kilmer is getting his voice back thanks to an AI prototype.

The 61-year-old actor went public with his throat cancer diagnosis in 2017, which he received after feeling a lump in his throat and waking up in a pool of blood. As a result, the Hollywood star underwent a tracheotomy that severely altered the sound of his voice.

Now with the help of Sonantic, a U.K.-based software firm that clones voices, Kilmer was able to speak again after creating an AI-version of his voice. Earlier this month, Sonantic shared a brief clip of the results.

"My voice as I knew it was taken away from me. People around me struggle to understand when I'm talking. But despite all that I still feel I'm the exact same person," Kilmer said in the video using the AI voice. "Still the same creative soul. A soul that dreams ideas and stories confidently, but now I can express myself again, bring these ideas to you, and show you this part of myself once more. A part that was never truly gone. Just hiding away."

Kilmer was heavily involved with the development of the AI prototype, working closely with Sonantic and providing archival footage of his voice to create the model, according to The Wrap

"I'm grateful to the entire team at Sonantic who masterfully restored my voice in a way I've never imagined possible," Kilmer said in a statement to the outlet. "As human beings, the ability to communicate is the core of our existence and the side effects from throat cancer have made it difficult for others to understand me. The chance to narrate my story, in a voice that feels authentic and familiar, is an incredibly special gift."

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Val Kilmer documentary
Val poster
| Credit: Amazon Prime Video

The AI-recreation of Kilmer's voice comes shortly after the release of his film, Val. The moving and intimate new documentary, which was co-produced by his daughter and son, explores the actor's life, career and recovery from throat cancer.

Though it's not featured in the documentary, moving forward, the Top Gun star will be able to use his AI voice both personally and professionally as he pleases. Instead, Val uses Kilmer's son Jack to recite some of the film's narration as well as Kilmer's home videos.

Val is streaming now on Amazon Prime Video.