Val Kilmer's ranch will soon be open for business.
At a hearing today, commissioners in New Mexico's San Miguel County agreed to let the actor turn his 5,970-acre Pecos River Ranch into a bed-and-breakfast after he apologized to his neighbors for trash talking the state.
Kilmer said he understood people getting upset "when you hear negative things about a place you love."
Earlier this week, northern New Mexicans told Wall Street Journal they wanted an apology from aging action hero for disparaging comments he made about the state and veterans in a 2003 interview with Rolling Stone and a 2005 interview with Esquire.
The 2003 story, entitled "Mr. Difficult," quoted Kilmer as saying he lived in "the homicide capital of the Southwest" and that "80 percent of the people in my county are drunk."
The 2005 Esquire story featured Kilmer explaining that he understands how to play a Vietnam veteran better than someone who actually fought in the war because the soldiers were "borderline criminal or poor ... wretched kids" who only served in the military because they "got beat up by their dads" or "couldn't finagle a scholarship."
Kilmer's explanation: He was misquoted. Both times.
The Esquire story goes on to quote Kilmer as saying, "I've probably made as much money as six hundred thousand or eight hundred thousand people in this state. It's a crazy thing to say, you know? I live on a ranch that's larger than Manhattan. That's a weird circumstance."
It's unclear whether Kilmer believes that's a misquote too -- Manhattan is, as the article's author, Chuck Klosterman, points out, 14,563 acres, more than twice the size of Kilmer's ranch.
Kilmer's journalist blame-game wasn't enough to stop nearby residents from protesting his quest to monetize his ranch at a permit hearing last month. They got support from Jesus Lopez, who's served as the San Miguel County attorney for 17 years. He told the Journal that Kilmer's comments were "incendiary" and a "clear and present danger threatening public safety."
Regardless of whether he's a menace to society, Kilmer does seem prone to potentially offensive statements. In that 2005 Esquire story, Klosterman describes Kilmer talking about one of his two buffalo: "He says he named one of these remaining ungulates James Brown because it likes to spin around in circles and looks like the kind of beast who might beat up his wife."
Pretty much the only people on Kilmer's side were those at the New Mexico branch of the ACLU, which, according to the Los Angeles Times, offered to represent the actor on the basis of a "a clear and obvious violation" of Kilmer's First Amendment rights -- his quotes about the state should have nothing to do with his ability to obtain permits.
Val Kilmer Tries to Turn Ranch Into Cash Cow
Despite his questionable comments about the state, Kilmer's been an active New Mexico resident for decades. He bought the Pecos River Ranch, which sits about 25 miles east of Sante Fe, in 1996. Last year, he flirted with running for governor.
Kilmer recently told the Albuquerque Journal that he had tried to appeal to his fellow residents by helping local schools, providing free Thanksgiving meals to the needy and using his ranch to support wildlife preservation.
"It's very upsetting for my friends," he told the newspaper. "I'm not worried at all about the reaction because I just see it as an opportunity to bring people together. No one would make a false statement like this statement of racism if they knew what we were doing."
Meanwhile, it seems as if Kilmer's priority is to turn his ranch into a cash cow. He put the property on the market last year for $33 million. Pam Sawyer, Kilmer's ranch manager, told the Albuquerque Journal in March that they were planning to charge $200 per guest for a night at Pecos River once they obtained the proper permits. When his bed-and-breakfast agenda stalled, Kilmer loaned his land out to his film industry friends.
Earlier this year, Norwegian designer Elise Øverland used the ranch as a backdrop for a short film about Wicca, according to Vanity Fair. And Kilmer's helping the Santa Fe Film Festival raise funds by selling ranch gigs -- for $500, a would-be wrangler can be a range boss for the day; for $250, they can serve as a ranch hand.
As for his own involvement in film, Kilmer's latest role bears a resemblance to his current (maybe now, former?) status as San Miguel County's persona non grata: Dieter Von Cunth, the nuclear warhead-hoarding villain in "MacGruber."