When two stars collide in a romance, it’s hard for the media—and fans—to ignore. And Cher has dated a handful of fellow celebrities, from Tom Cruise to Warren Beatty to, of course, Sonny Bono. But it may have slipped your mind that the pop icon was also romantically linked to actor Val Kilmer. Cher and Kilmer’s relationship from 1982 to 1984 was widely covered, as was their breakup. The fun-loving couple seemed happy together and have remained friends following their separation, which may leave fans wondering what went wrong. In a new interview, Cher just revealed the real reason the ’80s power couple split up. To see what she had to say, read on.
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Cher said the issue with her and Val Kilmer was that they “were both Alpha males.”
While dating someone as bold as you are can be fun, it can also cause some clashes, which is what seems to have happened with Cher and Val Kilmer. “We had unbelievable times and then put up with some times when they weren’t [that way] because we were both Alpha males,” Cher told People on Aug. 25. “We were both individuals, and neither of us was going to give up on that.”
And that quest for independence did get in their way. “What we would put up with from one another, was more than I think I’ve ever had with any other guy,” Cher said. “He would just go off and do his own thing, and you just had to be prepared. … It went from madly in love and laughing hysterically to respecting each other’s ability.”
Cher also said she had a hard time staying mad at Kilmer. “He can be a brat too, but you forgive him. You forgive him [for] everything,” she reminisced. “Even when I was angry, it was still a joy. If he called, it wouldn’t matter where I was. I would go.”
The singer also revealed the nicknames the couple had for each other, which might give you some insight into their dynamic: In addition to Sid and Ethel, the pair also went by Valus Maximus and Cherus Reprimandus. “It was just kind of who I was in the household,” she said. “Of course, he was Maximus, come on.”
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Cher was with Kilmer while he was sick, and she still managed to make him laugh.
Kilmer was reportedly diagnosed with throat cancer in 2015, but he didn’t go public with the news until 2017. As his conditioned worsened, Cher invited him to stay in her guest house. “He was at my house a lot of the time he was sick,” she told People. “He was brave the whole time. I saw how sick he was.”
Cher then went on to share a story that Kilmer also told in his 2020 book, I’m Your Huckleberry. One night, Kilmer suddenly woke up vomiting blood. “Cher stepped in and stepped up,” Kilmer wrote about that night. When the ambulance arrived, the two had a funny interaction. “I saw her scanning the paramedic, who was Gregory Peck drop-dead handsome. Only in Hollywood, right? Despite the fact that I was covered in blood, I caught her eye and bounced my brows like Groucho Marx. Hubba Hubba,” wrote Kilmer. “Cher was bashful to be busted but then couldn’t help laughing out loud at the audacity. Here we were, joking about beauty and desire, while I looked like a stunt man from [Quentin] Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs and, yes, while my life seemed to be in mortal danger. We laughed out loud before they finished with my vitals and shut me up with an oxygen mask.”
Cher told People that at that moment, “He looked at me and I looked at him, and we both knew what we were thinking because those guys are so handsome.”
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The couple started out as friends, which has helped them stay close post-breakup.
Kilmer wrote in his book that he didn’t want to meet Cher originally because he figured they’d have “nothing in common,” and he saw her as “a less-than-fascinating character out of the gossip rags.” But, of course, they ended up hitting it off.
Cher and Kilmer’s relationship was built on a friendship, which may be why it survived their breakup. “We became friends because we laughed at the same things constantly,” Cher told People. “He would sleep over, and it was just a friendship [at first].”
She also shared that despite their breakup, she still loves him. In his book, Kilmer shared similar sentiments: “We had a wild ride…and though we’d eventually veer off in different directions, our spirits stayed united.”
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Cher wrote Kilmer a sweet note after watching Kilmer’s new documentary.
Kilmer’s new documentary Val debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in July and was released on Amazon Prime earlier this month. The movie follows Kilmer’s life and includes footage he shot himself throughout his career, as well as childhood videos and home movies. “He is so creative like nobody I’ve ever known and how brave he was to do it in the way that he did it,” Cher told People of the documentary.
She also said that she wrote to Kilmer after watching it: “Valus Maximus, I’m sorry if I did anything to piss you off or hurt your feelings. I love you, and your documentary was all things…I love the things that pissed me off, the things that made me hysterical, amazed, hurt, astonished, etc. You are brave and beyond brilliant. Ethel.”
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