The Doors: The Troubled Making of Oliver Stone's Bizarre Jim Morrison Biopic

by Ed Power
Val Kilmer as Jim Morrison in The Doors (1991)
Val Kilmer as Jim Morrison in Val Kilmer as Jim Morrison in The Doors (1991)

All day they tramped around town: the movie star with slicked-back hair and the bespectacled musician who had once been famous. The star was Saturday Night Fever and Grease actor John Travolta—still, in the summer of 1980, a disco princeling hotter than a thousand raging suns. The musician, and Travolta's guide around Los Angeles that long, sweltering afternoon, was Ray Manzarek of The Doors.

Jim Morrison, The Doors’ mercurial lead singer, had passed away nine years previously. Rumours persisted that he’d faked his own death in the bath of his Paris hotel room aged 27 and was kicking back in parts unknown. If that was the case he was doing better than the rest of the band, who had struggled professionally since the frontman's death. With their rock star aura evaporating before their eyes they were eager for Morrison—and themselves—to be immortalised on screen.

But who could slip under the inscrutable skin of the Lizard King—Patricia Kennealy-Morrison a luminescent anti-hero whose myth had swallowed The Doors whole? Months of meetings with Hollywood executives had led Manzarek here—to a tentative get together with John Travolta.


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