Val Kilmer will soon be seen on screen in "Top...

Val Kilmer will soon be seen on screen in "Top Gun: Maverick." Credit: Getty Images / Amanda Edwards

Actor Val Kilmer, who in 2017 revealed he had been diagnosed and treated for throat cancer but that his voice had been worsened and unrecognizably altered by a tracheotomy, is speaking clearly again using artificial-intelligence-enhanced computer-generated speech.

"We all have the capacity to be creative. We're all driven to share our deepest dreams and ideas with the world," Kilmer, 61, said in voice-over in a nearly two-minute video posted Aug. 9 by Sonantic, a London-based technology company that specializes in artificial speech.

"When we think of the most talented, creative people, they speak to us in a unique way," Kilmer — the star of films including "Top Gun" and "Tombstone" (1993) — continued. "A phrase we often hear is 'Having a creative voice.' But I was struck by throat cancer. After getting treated, my voice as I knew it was taken away from me. People around me struggle to understand when I'm talking."

Despite this, "I still feel I'm the exact same person. Still the same creative soul. A soul that dreams ideas and stories constantly. But now I can express myself again. I can bring these ideas to you, and show you this part of myself once more. A part that was never truly gone. Just hiding away."

In a blog post on the company's website, co-founder John Flynn said Sonantic had been asked to build a custom AI voice model for Kilmer. While the normal process involves actors performing lines from a set script, with the recorded audio then fed into "our proprietary Voice Engine, which trains the AI model," Kilmer was unable to speak well enough for this. The company instead used past audio recordings of him as a basis.

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

Kilmer has not additionally commented on social media. He reprises his role as Tom "Iceman" Kazansky in the "Top Gun" sequel "Top Gun: Maverick," due in theaters Nov. 19.

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