What the Hell Happened to Michael Keaton?

Michael Keaton

Michael Keaton

Michael Keaton started out as a manic comic and grew into an unlikely leading man and an even more unlikely super hero.  As the first big-screen Batman, Keaton was able to make deals that secured him A-list work.  But when he walked away from the Bat-franchise, Keaton’s opportunities dried up.  Eventually, he all but disappeared from the spotlight.

What the hell happened?

Michael Keaton – Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood - 1968

Michael Keaton – Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood – 1975

After failing to break into stand-up comedy, Michael Keaton worked as a cameraman at a public television station in Pittsburg.  He started appearing onscreen in TV shows like Where the Heart Is and Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood where he played one of the Flying Zucchini Brothers.  Keaton was a production assistant on Mr. Rogers and hosted a tribute show on PBS following Fred Rogers’ death in 2004.

I kind of blew past that stand-up comedy career, didn’t I?  Wanna see a clip?  Of course you do.  Here’s an early Michael Keaton stand-up routine.

Keaton left public television to start a career as an actor.  He appeared on TV shows like Maude and The Mary Tyler Moore Hour.  Here’s a clip of Keaton doing a song and dance number with a pre-fame David Letterman and Mary Tyler Moore.

Man, I do not miss variety shows.  But that was pretty awesome.

As Keaton was entering this phase of his career, he was asked to change his professional name.  Keaton’s real name is Michael Douglas.  In fact, it is still his legal name.  But there was already a famous actor named Michael Douglas and Mike Douglas was a famous TV host.

Ironically, Michael Douglas’ father, Kirk Douglas, was born Issur Danielovitch.  If he hadn’t changed his name to Douglas when he came to Hollywood, the name Michael Douglas would have been available for Keaton to use.  If that had happened, Michael Douglas would have been Michael Danielovitch and Michael Keaton would have been Michael Douglas.

The internet insists that Keaton chose his stage name after reading an article about Diane Keaton on a plane.  However, this is not true.  It’s funny how the internet feeds off of itself some times.  Someone posted the original story without citation and soon it became cited all over the place including Wikipedia.  But Keaton has publicly denied the story.  Keaton picked the name without giving it much thought.  But he has said Buster Keaton was an influence.

rabbit test

In 1978, Keaton had a cameo role in his first movie, Rabbit Test.  Rabbit Test starred Billy Crystal as the world’s first pregnant man.  There was nowhere to go from here but up.

keaton working stiffs

Michael Keaton – Working Stiffs – 1979

In 1979, Keaton starred opposite Jim Belushi in the short-lived sitcom, Working Stiffs.  Keaton and Belushi played brothers who lived together and worked as janitors.  Nine episodes of the show were produced, but only four episodes were aired.

I’m not sure which is worse.  A pregnant-man film directed by Joan Rivers or a sit-com co-starring the lesser Belushi.  Fortunately for Keaton, one of the writer’s on Working Stiffs was also working on a screenplay for Ron Howard and introduced them.

Michael Keaton - Night Shift - 1982

Michael Keaton – Night Shift – 1982

That screenplay was Night Shift.

Night Shift was released in 1982 and starred Henry Winkler as an accountant-turned-pimp  and a pre-Cheers Shelley Long as a hooker with a heart of gold (a novel concept if ever there was one).  Ron Howard directed his former Happy Days co-star in what was intended to be a career change for both of them.  Howard was a novice director and Winkler was trying to get away from his Fonzie persona.

Keaton absolutely stole the show.  His motormouth idea man, Billy “Blaze” Blazejowski never stopped rattling off one crazy idea after another to the point where even the Fonz lost his cool and told him to shut up.

But Keaton’s over-the-top performance made the studio nervous.  According to Keaton,

“They saw the dailies and they were telling Ronnie I had to stop chewing gum, I had to get my hair cut. Eventually they were, like, ‘We have to fire him! What the fuck is he doing?’ They didn’t get it. To Ronnie’s credit, he told ’em to wait and see until it was all cut together.”

Night Shift got mostly favorable reviews and performed reasonably well at the box office.  It set off a string of prostitution-themed comedies in the 80’s that included Risky Business and Doctor Detroit.

Keaton - mr mom

Michael Keaton – Mr. Mom – 1983

Following Night Shift, Keaton was offered the John Candy role in Ron Howard’s Splash.  But he turned it down fearing that the role was too similar to the side-kick he played in Night Shift.

Instead, Keaton opted for a starring role in Mr. Mom in 1983.  John Hughes’ script for the high concept domestic comedy appealed to Keaton as did the fact it allowed him to grow as a leading man.

Reviews at the time were mixed to positive.  Many noted that the film felt a little like a TV sitcom.  But Keaton elevated the material.  Mr. Mom was a hit at the box office.

Next: Johnny Dangerously and Gung Ho


Posted on March 16, 2011, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actor and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 727 Comments.

  1. Enjoyed your article.
    Would like to suggest your next subject: Val Kilmer


    • I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      Val Kilmer is really the ONLY choice for my next subject. I can’t think of anyone with more wasted potential in recent years. I’ve already started researching his implosion. It’s just a matter of finding the time to put it all together. I should have it up soon though. Thanks for reading and check back for Mr. Kilmer’s story.


  2. Here’s the thing: The Paper was actually a successful film, both critically and financially. It was a star-studded film (come on, Glenn Close, Marisa Tomei and Robert Duvall were all in it) by a popular director (Ron Howard is popular, right?). So yeah, that argument had to be made.


    • Truth is, I liked “The Paper” when it came out. (I am an unabashed Michael Keaton fan afterall). However, the reviews were mixed and the box offfice was disappointing given the level of talent involved.

      Even though I liked the film, I haven’t seen it since. And when I started researching Keaton’s career, I found I had completely forgotten about it. As such, I feel pretty comfortable calling “The Paper” forgettable even though I remember liking it.

      But your point is fair. People, watch “The Paper” and judge for yourself!

      Since I’m here commenting, how awesome was it to see Michael Keaton on 30 Rock last week!


  3. Thanks for the article. You will never know how many times I have actually asked this question(not aloud). I have to admit, though, I loved watching him play the different parts of a personality in Multiplicity. Thanks again.


    • Glad you liked it. I too have asked myself “What the hell happened to Michael Keaton?” several times. Fortunately, it seems like he’s doing a little bit more these days. I hope he keeps it up. He’s a talented performer. And I did enjoy his portrayal of multiple characters in Multiplicity. Not a great movie, but a great comedic performance.


  4. andymovieman

    What the hell ever happened to a guy like Michael Keaton? He was the best actor i have seen that can be funny or serious like robin willliams but better than tom hanks. hanks is a pussy. Keaton is better. i always liked that keaton could play a hero as well as a villian. they should have him in a movie as a villain up against mel gibson, john travolta, bruce willis, harrison ford, ed harris, richard dreyfuss, alec baldwin, kurt russell, arnold schwarzenegger, sly stallone, johnny depp, gary oldman, etc. they should have him in ron howard movies and tim burton films again.


  5. andymovieman

    like i said Keaton is better. i hope anybody who reads this understands what i’m talking about. Tom hanks is a pussy and a friggin poster boy. why can’t michael keaton get oscar nominations and be more famous than tom hanks? Can somebody tell me that? everybody talks about how great tom hanks is and that he’s a nice guy. nice guy, my ass! Like I said, tom hanks is a poster boy. Michael Keaton is the best actor who can do action movies better than tom hanks can. Keaton joins the list of action movie stars with movies like batman. he should do more good lead roles in action, comedy and drama. i want Keaton back.


    • hey calm down, I want my Meg Ryan back too, while I won’t call J Roberts, R Witherspoon, or, uh, E Stone… (who else?)… biXches.

      Anyway, I like your idea of having Keaton in a movie as a villain up against ..Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, sly Stallone, etc… Maybe you can call/ mail Mr Stallone about the future The Expendables series. (I mean it)

      By the way, I watched The Other Guys twice. I think… I feel… I’m afraid Mr Keaton have to retire, just like Ms Ryan… ( T_T )


  6. maybe someone else who reads this should put michael keaton in the expendables as well. they should put him as a villian too. i don’t think keaton should retire. i didn’t like the other guys that much. i was pissed that they had to kill off samuel l jackson and dwayne johnson in the beginning and then focus more on mark wahlberg and will “the pussy” ferrell. i mean, what the hell is that? i like wahlberg, jackson, johnson and keaton, but i hate will ferrell. i don’t think will ferrell is that funny. i think michael keaton is funnier than will ferrell. like i said, someone should put michael keaton in a good action movie.


    • First of all , I am sorry.

      I just watched a movie Too Big to Fail (TV 2011), lead by … I have to say … two great guys James Woods & William Hurt. I love them very much. I hope they will stay in business forever.

      Considering Woods and Hurt are both older than Keaton , I am a idiot to say Keaton have to retire. Sorry again.


    • I couldn’t agree with you more about Will Ferrell. That guy is so annoying. Never makes me laugh. I don’t know why he is so popular.


  7. they should put him as a villian or hero in a action movie.


  8. william hurt was only good in michael with john travolta and a history of violence. i hated the village. i don’t like william hurt that much. i hate that the academy awards gave him an oscar for best actor over harrison ford. that pissed me off. same with tom hanks winning an oscar a second time for forrest gump over john travolta in pulp fiction. travolta and ford should have won. hurt and hanks should have lost. michael keaton should have been nominated in 1988 not tom hanks. like i said, hanks is a pussy. james woods is a good actor and so is john malkovich,mickey rourke and michael keaton. whoever says keaton or mel gibson should retire is an asshole.


  9. Lebeau, I must say, I have really enjoyed your ‘What the Hell Happened’ posts lol! I’ve just read everyone of them! I must say I’m thoroughly impressed and I love all of the Marlon Brandon quotes. That man was an actor. By the way, I am 38 years old and I still love how Brandon called some of these individuals out. Good work and I look forward to reading this blog on a regular basis!


  10. i still think michael keaton deserves another good movie. i hope he is nominated for an oscar and shows that asshole tom hanks who’s the best actor. If I had to choose between Michael Keaton and Tom Hanks. I choose Michael Keaton. Keaton is not a poster boy like tom hanks is. Hanks is just like bill clinton. like i said keaton is the best. keaton shouldn’t retire ever.


    • I don’t disagree with you that Michael Keaton is a great actor. But I’m not sure I get the animosity towards Tom Hanks. To my knowledge, there’s no feud between Hanks and Keaton. In fact, I can’t think of any real connection between them.


      • The thing that surprised me in a negative way about Tom Hanks was the Esquire article where he admitted that he cheated on his first wife for nearly two years with Rita Wilson. He also claimed in the article that when he saw Rita on the set of Volunteers that he was just blown away (suggesting love at first sight). Well, the problem with that is that they had already met when she co-starred in an episode of Bosom Buddies years before. His first wife died of cancer many years later and I guess he made peace with her before she passed away, but there’s just something kind of gross about the whole thing. Here’s a link highlighting the article:


        • I had not read that about Hanks. Maybe a cage match is in order! 😉

          Honestly, I just assume most celebrities aren’t people I’d want to hang out with in person. So if someone is a scumbag in real life, it doesn’t really keep me from enjoying their work. Conversely, if someone is super nice it won’t make me a fan either. Sure, I can be swayed. I’m not in any hurry to watch any Mel Gibson movies for example. But by and large, I don’t form opinions of actors based on their personal lives.

          Knowing you’re a Sean Young fan, I assume you feel similarly.


      • Actually, nothing Sean Young has done even comes close to this in my opinion. Sean acts nutty, and does silly things. What he did was deceptive and cruel.

        I don’t assume that celebrities are good or bad, but when I find out something like this I can’t automatically erase it from my memory so I can enjoy a movie like Larry Crowne (which is not doing well, by the way).

        I agree with you about Mel. I also would never want to watch Michael Richards perform his standup routine. I think we’re just talking about different types of failure. I personally get very offended by deception. I don’t think Mel or Michael Richards are all that deceptive ; ) But, they happen to be quite bigoted.


        • It’s funny you mention Michel Richards because he was the 2nd person I was thinking of after Mel.

          It’s true. Cheating on your wife for 2 years is a terrible thing. And not at all in line with Hanks’ squeaky clean, all-American, good guy image. I think if this were more widely known, his image would probably take a hit.

          However, Hanks’ career has been cooling in recent years (aside from the stupidly popular Da Vinci Code movies). Plus, America seems more willing to forgive men than women for this sort of thing. Just ask Meg Ryan. So, maybe it wouldn’t make much of a difference anyway.

          But to read this about Hanks is definitely disappointing. His nice guy image is definitely part of his appeal.


  11. Yeah, the contrast with his image is undeniable. I think the reason why it isn’t widely known is because his first wife didn’t go out and try to ruin his career with it. He also hadn’t reached “Gump status” yet. Let’s face it, it took him 20 years to even come clean about it. Personally, I think if he did the same thing to Rita Wilson, the whole world would know about it. What bugs me about her is that she was “the other woman”. She knew he was married and stole him away – with his permission of course. I just can’t imagine having a marriage based on all that garbage. The memory of their first date while he was married to someone else. Strange. Sadly, they’re just a typical Hollywood couple. I guess I’m not really surprised, just let down (again).


  12. tom hanks is a egotisical political big mouth poster boy whether any of you like it or not. michael keaton is the best actor i have seen and so is mel gibson. if any of you like hanks better than keaton or gibson, then you are assholes. i hate tom hanks. i’m glad that larry crowne didn’t do well in the box office. i hated him in philadelphia. i didn’t buy him playing a gay guy or sean penn for that matter. tom hanks sucks. seriously why do any of you waste time seeing him any movie? watch better movies.


    • andymovieman,

      That may just be the worst argument I’ve ever seen for anything ever. We get it. You don’t like Tom Hanks. That’s fine. You’re entitled to your opinion. But calling people “assholes” and saying over and over again that he sucks isn’t going to convince anybody you are right. Frankly, it doesn’t reflect well on you.

      I’m happy to have you engage in a debate, but let’s try to stick to the topic at hand. This article’s about Michael Keaton. Why don’t we just stick to talking about his career from here on out. I’ll write something up on Tom Hanks another day and we can debate whether or not he actually “sucks”.


  13. 85% of all movies could be made better with at least 15 seconds of Michael Keaton. Michael Keaton is underrated and underappreciated. What was that movie where he was in Tokyo at the car factory and they were trying to save the plant? I grew up with Michael Keaton. He is up there on my top 10 list of great comedic actors who do great drama too. Thanks for writing this!

    P.S. I love Tom Hanks too and Andymovieman seems to have a personal grudge against him for some reason. I look forward to reading whatever you post about Tom so that I can find out what this personal grudge is, as I am sure Andymovieman will comment.

    P.S.S. You should totally do a what happened to Tom Cruise too. He is still a big actor but SERIOUSLY he has lost his mind.

    Keep up the great writing!


    • Totally agree about Keaton making movies better. The movie you’re thinking of is Gung Ho. At the time, I left it out of the write-up because I didn’t have a joke for it. But I may have to go back and add it in. As a team-up with frequent collaborator Ron Howard, it deserves a mention at least.

      I’ll just say that I find both Toms careers to be fascinating. I’ve always been interested in both of their careers. I think I’m going to need to start a column for looking at careers that are still going strong.


  14. lebeau, (1.) honestly i think gung ho is the best movie that keaton did with howard as well as the paper. (2.) in answer to your other question is the reason i hate tom hanks is that he has gotten too political and too cocky and frankly he insulted world war 2 veterans including my grandfathers and great uncle as well with his wars are caused by racism comment. he should keep his mouth and act. nobody cares about his stupid liberal politics. i used to think he was funny then but, now i don’t think he’s funny at all. if you still like him that’s fine. but i have my own opinion so technically i would pick michael keaton over tom hanks. keaton is still the best. keaton can do a lot more action movies than hanks. keaton should do more good movies. (3.) the paper is not forgettable, it is unforgettable. did you know that michael keaton was considered to play jack traven in speed before keanu reeves got the role? so read between the lines.


    • Gotcha.

      I like Keaton and Hanks just fine. Of the two, I preferred Keaton back in the day.

      I tend to put politics and personal lives aside when talking about entertainers. It just doesn’t matter to me whether or not we vote the same way.

      I’m actually in the process of doing a career retrospective on Hanks so we can talk about him further over there.


  15. i messed up on tom hanks should keep his mouth shut. he really should.


  16. so i’m glad you understand. i don’t like will ferrell either. i think he is a pussy.


  17. i liked that keaton worked with andy garcia in desperate measures and rene russo in one good cop.


    • Yeah, I really need to come back to this article and flesh it out more. I’ve gotten more thorough with the more recent articles. With this one, I mostly hit the highlights.


  18. yeah me too. if you got any facts for this blog. please say what you need to say.


  19. keaton is still the best. hanks lost my vote of being my favorite funny actor.


  20. one time i remember seeing pacific heights with the hunt for red october on channel 11 years ago. it was good seeing a michael keaton movie with an alec baldwin movie.


  21. i remember seeing good movies with michael keaton on channel 11 besides pacific heights like jackie brown, one good cop, beetlejuice, batman, mr. mom, etc. those were the good old days when channel 11 was great. same with tbs. nobody shows good movies with keaton anymore. lebeau, you should also make a what happened to channel 11 new york’s movie station and what happened to tbs superstation.


  22. Loved your “whatever happened to?” series. Very wittily written. May I suggest Carrie Fisher and Debra Winger as potential sequels?


  23. lebeau, do you think michael keaton and bruce willis can do an action movie together as well as kurt russell and alec baldwin? i just want to know that. i hope you also read about the movies i saw with keaton on channel 11 and tbs superstation. i still think keaton can work with good actors. he should work with bruce willis in a die hard movie or another action flick.


    • Well, there’s talk of Die Hard 5 happening. Honestly, I don’t think Keaton has much interest in doing action films these days. He’s pretty set financially from the Batman films and I think he’s just doing projects that interest him. He’s done some little movies that were passion projects. And every now and then he does a fun cameo like The Other Guys or 30 Rock. But I’d be surprised to see him take on an action movie for a paycheck.


  24. keaton will always be the best better than tom hanks and will ferrell.


  25. i didn’t like when that jane lynch played his wife in post grad. they could have had another actress in the movie. i don’t like her. she is also a political big mouth too.


    • I had never heard of that movie until you mentioned it.

      I don’t watch Glee, but I’ve been a Jane Lynch fan for a long time. She’s a great comic actor.

      My recommendation is to not let an entertainer’s politics bother you. It sounds like you’re a conservative and most actors are liberals. So odds are good you’re going to disagree with them politically. Alec Baldwin, whom you seem to like, is one of the most outspoken liberals on the planet! I don’t care what my mailman’s political affiliation is. His job is to bring me the mail and he does the job well. If an actor does a good job, I don’t really care how he or she votes.

      Just my 2 cents.


  26. i don’t care either. i don’t really give a shit about jane lynch. i never liked her or will ferrell in talladega nights. i hate that she insulted glenn beck. glenn beck is a libertarian. i’m a libertarian. to tell you the truth i was sick of her in seeing those stupid xfinity commercials. despite what you say alec baldwin did action movies as well as michael keaton and they worked well together in beetlejuice. you gotta admit. baldwin is just as good as keaton. i never watch that stupid show glee.


  27. lebeau, even though baldwin is a liberal idiot like his brother billy, tom hanks, sean penn, george clooney, his movies back then were just as good as keaton’s. he did a good job with the hunt for red october, malice, beetlejuice, mercury rising and the departed.Truth is i will never watch any new tom hanks or sean penn films. i’m glad i didn’t see Milk. i didn’t like seeing sean penn playing a (deleted) same with tom hanks in philadelphia. as for tom hanks i didn’t watch and like saving private ryan. i hate it. there are plenty of other war movies out there that are much better than saving private ryan. like braveheart with mel gibson. say what you want about him but he is still the best actor i’ve ever seen same with keaton, travolta, stallone, eastwood, ford, schwarzenegger, willis, kurt russell and so many others.


    • Even more so than the name calling, no more hate speech. I’ve deleted and edited several homophobic comments from you. Let’s put a stop to it now. Next time, I’m just going to start deleting all your comments.

      As remembertheredskins pointed out, these kind of comments just reflect poorly on you anyway.


  28. Be careful about the namecalling.
    It says more about you than it does about the person you’re insulting.


  29. ok. no more namecalling. deal? we will still talk about michael keaton, ok?


  30. lebeau and remember the redskins, all i’m saying is that don’t you think michael keaton should deserve more credit for the work he’s done? don’t you think he deserves an oscar for his performance in some of his movies? i still think keaton can be great and more watchable in a good film. don’t you both believe it? truth is that i’m just mad that tom hanks has gotten more attention than michael keaton. i was reading whatever dude’s competition between michael keaton vs tom hanks. the fact that critics in hollywood payed more attention to tom hanks’ performance in philadelphia than michael keaton’s performance in My Life with nicole kidman just tells me one thing that they are screwing keaton over. keaton should deserve credit for his performances. he’s still one of my favorites who can do action, comedy and drama. if he does a lead role in an action, comedy and drama again i think it will be great. that’s all i’m saying. whatever hate speech and homophobic comments i said before was wrong, i should have known better. all i’m saying is that i’m mad that michael keaton isn’t getting more attention from the critics. so, i hope you can forgive me what i said. and hope we can still talk about keaton again. and no more talk about tom hanks again.


  31. that’s a promise.


  32. Wow I see that the conversation is still going on. I find the comments on this almost as amusing as the article itself….almost but not quite. I think I am going to go home and watch Gung Ho tonight 🙂 It is on Netflix Watch It Now!


  33. I actually really like Michael Keaton. His transformative performance in “Beetlejuice” is the sort of thing the Academy would seriously consider nominating nowadays. I’m not sure how much thought they gave to it at the time.
    If you’d like to see Keaton in a more recent starring role, check out “The Merry Gentleman.”


  34. i have the merry gentleman at home and i’ll watch it tomorrow. they should have nominated keaton for beetlejuice. he was the best. keaton still is the best.


  35. let me ask you something lebeau? do you think that the 1989 Batman is still better than the dark knight? because i think it is. i didn’t like how heath ledger played the joker. there was no backstory for his character and he talked mumbo jumbo. jack nicholson did a much better job as the joker as well as any other evil or good character he played. i don’t know why ledger spend time preparing for the role by researching his character at a mental hospital. i guess that’s why he got messed up and killed himself accidentally. there are plenty of other method actors out there in the world that weren’t stupid like ledger. deniro is still great so is pacino, hoffman, brando, nicholson, paul newman, robert mitchum and john wayne. keaton is still one of my favorites as well as nicholson.


    • I have a hard time comparing Batman 1989 to the Nolan-directed Batman films. They are just so different. I have very fond memories of seeing Batman in 1989. And I enjoy it as a dark fantasy – the kind of movie Tim Burton excels at making. But as a Batman movie, it’s got a lot of flaws. Check out this review from Comics Alliance:

      They absolutely tear apart all the plot holes and lapses in logic. On that level, I think the Nolan movies are better. But I have more fun watching the Burton movies.

      Plenty of people have compared Ledger’s Joker to Keaton’s Beetlejuice. I would be very surprised if Beetlejuice wasn’t an influence on how Ledger portrayed the Joker. I thought his performance was truly captivating and his death was tragic. It was the right performance for The Dark Knight just as Nicholson’s performance was perfect for Batman ’89.


  36. I personally preferred Ledger’s Joker to Nicholson’s. The performance was much more kinetic and dangerous and involved much more detailed character work. Nicholoson was just sort of playing himself dressed up as The Joker. Some of that simply had to do with the script, though.


    • “Just a comic book movie,” huh? Let me warn you that phrase is apt to invalidate your opinion with a lot of folks around here. These same people have found the last few films to be plenty of fun, even as they were taking themselves kind of seriously.


      • lol – I have been sitting on this comment waiting to respond. I was hoping someone else would get to it first. I’m glad I waited. You were more tactful than I was going to be.


  37. well if its what you think, it’s what you think. i have no problem with that. i just could never get into the dark knight. so hard to understand especially with ledger’s joker even in the beginning when he double crosses his men at the bank while robbing it and they don’t know it’s him. same with inception and memento. how many dreams did leonardo dicaprio and his team go through? how many times does guy pearce flash back and forth to find out the truth about his wife? it’s just so stupid and hard to understand. the only movies i love from nolan is batman begins and insomnia. that’s all i like. that’s all i understand. i could understand total recall more than inception. i thought total recall was better than inception.


    • I still prefer Batman 89. I thought Christian Bale sounded constipated and I thought the movies were slow. The original was so much fun. Great actors, good soundtrack. Just a fun movie. Now they take themselves way too seriously. Its just a comic book movie. I think they should be fun.


  38. i still think beetlejuice and the two batman movies keaton did with burton were the best.


  39. if michael keaton could one day do an action movie like he did with batman, one good cop and desperate measures, would any of you go see it? that’s the question i’m willing to ask.


    • I’m a Michael Keaton fan. If he is in a movie, it makes the movie more appealing. Doesn’t matter if it’s an action movie, comedy or drama. However, Keaton’s presence isn’t enough on its own to get me to buy a ticket. It still has to be a good movie. But given a choice between two movies with all other things being equal, I’ll see the one with Keaton in it.


  40. good choice lebeau. that’s just what i wanted to hear.


  41. lebeau, let me ask you something else. have you ever seen a movie called romeo is bleeding with gary oldman?it was made in 1993 and it was a cult favorite even though it didn’t do well in the box office. anyway check out geek vs goth on romeo is bleeding and you’ll see the comments i put saying it was a great movie better than the dark knight.


  42. also lebeau you should talk about what happened to wpix 11 being known as new york’s movie station back in the day when they showed great movies.


    • Movieman, my friend, I don’t live in the New York area. Unfortunately, I don’t know anything about WPIX. But I’ll take your word for it.


  43. good. that’s all i wanted to hear.


  44. i still think multiplicity was a good funny movie he did with harold ramis. even though it didn’t do well it still managed to get a cult following. same with desperate measures or any other michael keaton movie like with any other actor.


    • I am a fan of Multiplicity. It’s not a perfect movie, but Keaton is great in it. The bit where he smears pizza on his face gets me every time.


  45. it’s a good thing keaton worked with andy garcia in desperate mesures.


  46. back in the 80s and 90s keaton was great. and he still can be great if we all pray that he does a good film probably an action, comedy and drama. that’s all i’m saying. i believe in keaton as much as i believe in mel gibson and arnold schwarzenegger. you gotta have faith. my advice watch more of keaton’s 80s and 90’s movies if you have time. relive the old days with good movies with keaton that you grew up watching when you were a kid. there are actors who are forgetable and unforgetable. keaton may be forgetable to some people, but not to me, lebeau or any other person who still thinks keaton is a good actor.


  47. i’m glad most of you reading what i’m writing understand how much i think keaton is still the best. even you lebeau.


  48. i hope keaton does a great movie again. and i would go see it.


  49. if they cast keaton or any other action movie actor as declan mulqueen in 1997″s the jackal instead of that asshole richard gere. the movie would have been better. gere thought it was violent and he didn’t like working with bruce willis. gere’s a pussy. if any of you think bruce willis is better than richard gere please speak up. if any of you think bruce willis is a good choice to play john mcclane in die hard instead of richard gere tell me. gere would have thougt die hard was violent. i will never watch a new movie with richard gere again. i did like the jackal because of bruce willis. bruce willis is good at action movies, gere sucks. keaton is just as good as willis.


    • You’ve touched on a hot topic for me. I think Gere is a talent performer in the right role. He was perfect for Chicago. But in general, I’m not a fan of Gere. He comes across as so smug and self-satisfied. He almost never has chemistry with his leading ladies (outside of Julia Roberts). He would be totally wrong for Die Hard. Really, I can’t imagine anyone but Bruce Willis in that role.


  50. Both Gere and Willis need the right material and director to shine. I too often think that they are aware of the camera in the room with them. That camera is not supposed to exist, guys.


    • Good point. Willis is often winking and smirking at the audience. Gere conveys his smug self-satisfaction. I’ve long thought that about both actors but never made the connection that they had that trait in common. But in the right role with the right director, they can both deliver the goods. Although I can’t think of too many roles that would suit them both. They have very different strengths in spite of a shared weakness.


  51. officer and a gentleman was good, so was internal affairs and american gigolo. runaway bride was pretty good. pretty woman was ok. after that gere became a real cocky asshole because he complained about the people he worked with in any movie and his non violent buddhist beliefs in tibet or sri lanka or whatever the hell country he visited. if i had to chose between bruce willis and richard gere, i choose bruce willis.


  52. willis is more of an excellent action movie hero than gere will ever be.


  53. you should also talk about sean penn lebeau.


  54. sean penn’s a real idiot like richard gere and i hate him too.


  55. maybe somehow they put michael keaton for expendables 2. what do you think lebeau? maybe someone will twitter or facebook his name in hollywood. that’s what they did with travolta and peter weller and many other good action stars.


    • I don’t know if you heard the news or not, but yesterday a deal was announced that makes Beetlejuice 2 look a lot more likely. They didn’t specifically say that the original cast would be involved, but they did say it was a follow up to the original and not a remake. So hopefully this is good news for both Keaton and Winona Ryder.


  56. Has Jones recovered? I heard he was VERY ill, but I just checked his IMDB entry and there’s a listing for a 2012 credit for him.


    • I’m not aware of any illness. But it may have slipped past my notice. I guess you could say he’s “ill” in the sense that he got himself in that legal trouble a while back.

      The project is in the early stages and may never see the light of day. At this point, it’s uncertain that Keaton would even be involved. But seeing as how he is willing, I figure he will do it as long as the script is decent. If it’s some “Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiin” like they were talking about in the 90’s, I think Keaton will steer clear. Basically, if Keaton doesn’t sign on I’m going to assume the script is junk.

      The rest of the cast is even more iffy. I’m sure Ryder would jump at the chance. Not sure about Baldin and Davis. Jones and O’Hara seem like long shots to me. I assume Tim Burton won’t direct though word is he would be involved in some capacity.

      I have mixed feelings on the idea of a second Beetlejuice. The first one is perfect for what it is. A sequel can’t possibly live up. But it would be great to see Keaton in the role again if the material was worthy.


      • Ah yes, that’s what it was. Somehow, my brain had transformed Jones’ legal problems into “Jeffrey Jones is dead.” I remember being very sad about it. Kind of worse, in a way.


        • At the time, I certainly thought his career was dead. Yeah, it’s a shame. Because Jones is a talented actor.

          As a side note, Jeffrey Jones appeared in the Alien Encounter attraction at the Magic Kingdom. It was shut down shortly after the scandal came out. Some people have speculated there is a connection, but I really doubt it. I think Alien Encounter was going to be replaced either way due to complaints of it being too scary for kids. But I’d be surprised if Jones ever appeared in another theme park attraction.


        • It’s too bad that Jeffrey Jones is basically known primarily as a character actor (he has in the past, been one of Tim Burton’s favorite go-to actors) because I could see him get a “What the Hell Happened to…”


        • I’m not sure I could discuss what happened to Jeffrey Jones. This is a family site. 😉

          For those that don’t know, Google him. But maybe not at work.


  57. i think it would be good to see him a sequel to beetlejuice and that i hope tim burton will direct it. burton made the movie happen same with batman and batman returns. i hope keaton works well with burton again after 20 years. i miss when keaton worked with burton on those 3 films they did together. the only good movies johnny depp ever did with burton i liked was alice in wonderland, edward scissorhands and sleepy hollow. hated sweeney todd and charlie and the chocolate factory, they made depp look like michael jackson.


  58. if johnny depp and michael keaton work together on a movie directed by tim burton or not i think it will be good.


  59. hey andymovieman are you a fan of michael keaton? just wondering


  60. yes i am a fan of michael keaton. why?


  61. if there was a good action movie with michael keaton in a lead role i would go see it.


  62. maybe someday keaton will be nominated for an oscar who knows?


  63. if keaton can still be the best he can be i would see a new movie from him as well as some of his old ones.


  64. maybe keaton should work with tarantino again after jackie brown and i hope he gets nominated.


  65. keaton is one of my favorite actors and role models. i still think he can do a great movie.


  66. lebeau you should also talk about kurt russell and what happened to him. he hasn’t done good movies lately.


    • Yeah, Kurt Russell would make a good subject. I’ve been dividing my time between two blogs this month and Le Blog has been really slow as a result. I’ve got a few articles in the works, I just haven’t had a lot of time. But I’ll put Russel on the list of subjects to get to eventually. Thanks for the suggestion!


  67. kurt russell is just as good as michael keaton, mel gibson and any actor i have seen.


  68. kurt russell is better than brad pitt and sean penn.


  69. What moran wrote all this bullshit, Michael Keaton is an unbelievabley underrated, under appreciated actor!!! one of the best actors i have ever seen he has more talent in his little finger than christian bale has at all end of so go slag off someone who deserves it!


  70. i still think keaton is a good actor. he is better than clooney, pitt and sean penn.


  71. keaton did a good job as batman and beetlejuice. and people love him for that. i know i do. and he is not that cocky and egotisical and self centered like other hollywood pricks i hate like sean penn, brad pitt, george clooney, and richard gere. they should all go fuck themselves. michael keaton is not underrated and underappreciated. keaton is the best. and that’s what we are talking about, right? how keaton can still do a great movie not, be like those other hollywood jerks? that’s what i think. keaton needs a good film and i hope gets a good film. to all those idiots in hollywood, give michael keaton a chance to do a good film and not use a jerkoff like george clooney.


  72. desperate measures was a good action film that keaton did with andy garcia. keaton was good as the villian just like beetlejuice and pacific heights. he would probably be good enough to play a villain in die hard 5 up against bruce willis. either him, ed harris, john malkovich, john travolta, kenneth branagh, william hurt, etc. what do you think, lebeau?


  73. people wonder how michael keaton and kurt russell aren’t doing good films lately. maybe it is because idiots like george clooney, brad pitt,sean penn, and richard gere get more attention now and get to be cocky just like tom hanks. clooney is a jerkoff so is brad pitt and sean penn too. keaton and russell are good actors and i love watching their movies. you don’t see the both of them working with ron howard again. you see tom hanks the poster boy.


  74. i hope keaton and russell do a good movie and both work together also.


  75. i just found out on that keaton was considered to play koopa in the super mario bros movie but he turned it down. it would have been good to see him in that movie as well as any other good film he did over the years.


  76. Great explanation of what happened to Michael. We love him and miss him!


  77. i miss keaton and his movies. i heard that 87 percent of people would want to see keaton in a lead role.


  78. totally agree about Jackie Brown. Very underrated, great movie.


  79. any movie that keaton did is underrated it doesn’t mean it’s bad. keaton is still the best in my books. i would pick keaton over tom hanks and george clooney. end of story.


  80. Some critic panned Johnny Dangerously once. Once.


  81. who gives a shit what the critics thought about michael keaton’s movies then? critics judged his movies as well as mickey rourke’s, stallone’s, kurt russell’s and mel gibson’s as well. i’m surprised nobody judged tom hanks’s films or that ratfaced commie dickhead sean penn’s as well. i think keaton is a good actor and deserves to make a comeback. at least he’s not an anti american asshole like tom hanks, sean penn and george clooney. keaton is still the best. i would go to a movie if keaton was in it. i won’t go to a tom hanks movie, a brad pitt movie, a george clooney movie, a zach galifankis movie and a sean penn movie.


  82. yeah i’m just mad that critics have the nerve to just a good film that any of our favorite actors star in. i think michael keaton did a lot of good films that were judged and bashed because critics were idiots. keaton did good films. the reason why i’m also mad is because of sean penn the man you call a top notch actor. he has the nerve to insult anyone including maria conchita alonzo from touch and go who criticizes hugo chavez. penn is a commie ratfaced dickhead. i think most people agree he is a scumbag for doing that. and personally penn should be shunned and everyone should boycott this ani american piece of shit.


    • With regards to Keaton, sure some of his movies got bad reviews. But some of his movies were bad. I doubt Keaton himself would defend Jack Frost. There have been points in Keaton’s career when the critics really championed him. The critics really got behind Clean and Sober for example. I don’t think the critics were unfair to Keaton.

      As far as Penn goes, like I’ve said before I don’t really care about the personal lives of artists. since I never have to spend time with them, I don’t care whether or not we see eye to eye on politics. Or if they are good people. That’s for their friends and families to worry about. I’m really only interested in whether or not an artist does good work.

      Say what you will about Sean Penn (and you do), the guy’s a talented actor. End of the day, that’s all that matters to me.


  83. well he did some good films before he became a raving lunatic. i thought desperate measures that keaton did with garcia. was the last good action movie of the 90s like soldier with kurt russell and many others. to me desperate measures was better than the other guys. i still think keaton is great and kurt russell too. i will still go see a kurt russell movie, michael keaton movie and even a mel gibson movie. i don’t plan on seeing any movie from any actor i just boycotted already lebeau. that’s what i think.


  84. andymovieman

    stick to cartoons. they are easy to digest and goes down pretty well


  85. i like only old warner bros cartoons sid hunt.


  86. keaton could still do action again lebeau. he could still be the best hero or villian in any action movie. that’s what makes him great. he’s not a pussy like tom hanks.


  87. keaton is still the best in my book. i would still watch a good movie from keaton from the 80s and 90s that he did were great. keaton has more talent than any of these no talent morons like will ferrell, zack galifankis, jonah hill, russell brand,etc.


  88. Just stumbled onto this great article on Keaton. I had always wondered what happened to him, because I, too, think he is one of the greatest actors alive. I just saw Out of Sight, and wish there had been more of Keaton in it. Even missed him in the credits. Not only is Keaton a great comedic actor, but he also has a dangerous edge about him that he can convey in just a look. I never could get back into the Batman series after the first two.

    I see Andymovieman has had a relapse back to his hatefilled rants against anyone who doesn’t conform to his right wing beliefs. Thought he was going to banned if he did. Glen Beck a hero of his? OMG? That would be funny if not so pathetic. Talk about a certified loon, liar, and bigot.

    Okay, let’s get back to movies. Please!!!


    • Hey, welcome. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      I agree with you about Keaton. He has that edge that makes him interesting whether he is doing comedy or drama. The Out of Sight/Jackie Brown combo is just awesome. I would love to see a Ray Nicolet movie!

      I have come to think of Andymovieman as local color. He has strong opinions that frequently differ from my own. But as long as he avoids the hate speech, I generally let him speak his mind. I do respect the guy’s passion. And he keeps things interesting.


  89. Hope you don’t let this great forum devolve into a political attack venue. I like the evenhandedness you’ve used so far. If Andy stays on task, not a problem. But, as I saw as I followed through all the posts going back many months, Andy couldn’t help himself and is back to his old tricks. I am fed up with the hate-filled garbage I see too often on the net, and Andy is part of that cabal, unfortunately.

    Thanks again for for a great forum. BTW, have you highlighted Kevin Kline, another great actor who has that “edge” and can go seamlessly from comedy to drama. I Love You to Death (hilarious and based on a true story), Soapdish, A Fish Called Wanda (about as politically incorrect as you can get, but great fun).


    • It’s funny you mention Kevin Kline… 😉

      I like to leave the comments as open as I can. I only really step in when I’m worried someone crossed a line. I don’t mind controversial. I don’t mind if someone disagrees with me. That stuff keeps the conversation interesting.

      I’ll allow and even participate in tangents. But I’ll curb political talk that doesn’t directly relate to the subject at hand. Sometimes it’s relevant. Usually, it’s not. I keep my politics out of the picture for the most part.

      I love the comments section. It’s sparked a lot of great article ideas. A lot of times, the comments are better than the article they are commenting on. And I really enjoy the back and forth with the regulars. Even Movieman. I like to think we’ve reached an understanding over time.


  90. i’m kind of done saying what i have to say jim jones. all i can say is that michael keaton is still a good actor and so is mel gibson. i don’t agree with how people stuck it to them after all these years. i don’t consider myself right wing even if i think that way. i am a libertarian. i’m not a democrat or republican. that’s what i am. there are lots of people who are libertarians like clint eastwood and kurt russell which i like. glenn beck is a libertarian, not a republican, just so you know. do you know what a libertarian is jim? it means someone who believes in more freedom, less government. you may think i am a liar and bigot and a nutcase, but i’m not. i’m trying to make a point about actors i like that don’t get much attention and people care about the cocky actors of today. i don’t want to argue. if you want to talk about good actors, we’ll talk about good actors. if you want to ask me why i don’t like tom hanks, go ahead. i wont be mad.


  91. I’ve been meaning to ask you, Andy: How do you feel about Will Smith?


    • Can I answer?

      Personally, I think Will Smith is over-rated. He can act. But more often than not, he coasts by on charisma. When a script is weak and they try to cover it up by having Smith push his personality extra hard, it grates on my nerves.

      It’s a shame, because he really can act. He just frequently makes movies that don’t require acting.


  92. will smith has done some good films. not all. liked wild wild west, bad boys 1 and 2, men in black 1 and 2, enemy of the state and independence day. can’t wait for men in black 3. didn’t care for hancock and shark tale.


  93. i agree that keaton should have had more of a part in out of sight than a cameo appearence


  94. you know who else is over rated daffy? johnny depp. i have to hear everytime about his next movie with tim burton plus another pirates sequel.


    • I was suprised recently to read that he was the favorite actor of just about every demographic including both political parties.

      I like Depp a lot. I think he’s a terrific actor who is not afraid to take chances. However, he seems to choose movies based on how interested he is in making them and not how good he think they will be.


  95. I kind of like Johnny Depp. He’s quirky. Not all his movies have been great, but he has plenty of hits under his belt. He is willing to take on riskier roles that might not play into his superstar status, and I respect that.

    DiCaprio falls into this category too. I used to think he was just another weak pretty boy but he’s taken on some meaty roles and pulled them off. Plus I read an interview w/ him once in which he came across as very grounded and not at all full of himself. I respect that too.

    Will Smith I can take or leave. I’ve enjoyed some of his work and as a comedian he’s ok. I think he’s gone a little goofy these past years though and it’s affected his work. One things for sure; he and Jada bought their sons way into the Karate Kid remake and that was a stinker.


    • I’m with you on all three. Although I respected DiCaprio back before he became famous (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape features terrific pre-A-list performances by both Depp and DiCaprio). Then, like everyone else, I kind of lost interest during DiCaprio’s teen heartthrob/Titanic stage. But to his credit, he refused to be pigeon-holed. His career is filled with interesting choices I never would have predicted based on all those Tiger Beat covers.


  96. hated titanic.


  97. I wasn’t that impressed with Titanic either. All the women in my house gush over that damn thing, but it’s just so much fluff to me. Blech!

    Since we’ve already gone off tangent in this thread I’m going to throw out another actor who I find interesting and deserving of some respect: Ryan Gosling. His films are pretty diverse and you probably haven’t seen most of them. He is a talented actor who doesn’t go for the big budget blockbuster paydays. Instead he seems to pick smaller, quieter films that I assume he finds interesting. I always root for a good actor who serves his or her craft rather than the payday. I’m not saying they’re in the same league yet, but he kind of reminds me of Daniel Day Lewis. Lewis is famous for doing one movie every 5 or 10 years and getting nominated for a slew of awards in return. He waits for just the right film to come along that interests and challenges him. It seems to me Gosling picks his roles the same way though he’s a bit busier judging by his filmography. It’s hard not to like an actor who sticks to their guns like that as long as they are good at what they do. And in my opinion both are very good actors.

    If you’re looking for some good Gosling flicks a few are: The Ides of March, The United States of Leland, Lars and the Real Girl. He’s good in The Notebook too, but that one is a serious chick flick. A bit too gushy for my tastes. I’m going to watch Drive tonight, and I’ve heard good things about it.


    • I was impressed with Gosling in Crazy, Stupid, Love. Drive is in the #1 spot on my Blockbuster queue. But I have to sit through Super 8 first. Let me know what you think.


    • “Ides of March” was a suspenseful, engaging film without any of the overt violence that is so prevalent, and Gosling was good in it.
      I’ll be interested to know what you think of “Super 8.” I will withold my opinions until you get a chance to see it.


      • Ides of March is also on my list. It has the added appeal of having bee filmed locally. I know people who stalked Clooney during filming.

        You have now provided the incentive that I need to sit down and actually watch Super 8 which has been sitting in an unopened envelope for the last week.


  98. Wow! Drive was outstanding. It is one suspenseful, intense experience right from the opening scene. And Gosling…well like I said, the kid is good. The guy that loaned me the movie said it is in the same vane as No Country For Old Men which I couldn’t really understand when he said it. How could a movie about a stunt driver compare to that? Well, he was right. It is in that same spirit; kind of reminds me of early Michael Mann work. Maybe Gosling’s best work to date. He does more with a look than 100 words of dialogue which is about how many he has in this one. His is a quiet, menacing character. Do yourself a favor and put the wife and kids to bed, turn down the lights and watch it.

    I enjoyed the Ides of March. A quiet political thriller. Clooney often does these off the beaten path films too. Super 8. Well it wasn’t bad but you expect more from a Spielberg production. I think it was meant to be an updated ET, family friendly, for kids flick. Pretty average and forgettable when it comes right down to it, but you took the time to rent it so go ahead and get it over with.


  99. ryan gosling is cool. i don’ t care about clooney and pitt and sean penn and their new movies. last good film i saw from clooney was men who stare at goats. as far as i’m concerned clooney and pitt are cocky posterboys. johnny depp is a good actor now he’s a poster boy too. i mean i liked when he did sleppy hollow and edward scissorhands from tim burton. even alice in wonderland was good. i didn’t care for corpse bride, charlie and the chocolate factory and sweeney todd. those are my least favorie johnny depp movies from tim burton. donnie brasco and the ninth gate was brilliant. brad pitt? i tuned out after mr. and mrs. smith. i didn’t care for any new film he did even the sequels to ocean’s eleven. i liked the first one. second one was bizarre and hard to understand., third one was ok because of pacino but matt damon didn’t have much of a love interest like clooney and pitt. michael keaton, now there’s an underrated actor that needs more good movies and to be on top agan. maybe a sequel to desperate measures, beetle juice and jackie brown. kurt russell needs a good movie too. don’tcha think lebeau?


  100. i plan to see good action movies this year with some of my favorite actors.


  101. you should see desperate measures with lebeau. it is a great action film.


  102. if there are good action movies with good actors i like, chances are i would go see it. michael keaton needs to do more action movies like desperate measures again. like a sequel to desperate measures or one good cop or jackie brown. at least you would know what happens to ray nicollete, artie lewis and peter mccabe, his heroic or anti heroic characters. chances are that those movies will be good cult films in everyone’s book, despite all the positive and negative box office reception those films got over the years. do you agree, lebeau?


    • Yeah, sure.

      Honestly, I think Keaton is kind of content not to work that much. He can life very comfortably without ever making another movie. He seems to pick and choose projects that interest him. It just doesn’t seem to me like he’s interested in making another action movie. But you never know. Maybe the right project will come around.

      I did read that someone (I forget who) is developing a Jackie Brown prequel focused on the Robert DeNiro character and how he met up with Samuel L Jackson’s character. Since it’s a prequel, I’m sure Keaton won’t be involved which is a shame.


  103. To be honest I liked Michael Keaton In Jack Frost. I guess you have to be a kid at heart to like this one.


    • I actually liked Keaton in just about every movie he ever made. He just made some bad movies. And Jack Frost was definitely one of them. Sure, it could have been worse. It could have starred Stephen Baldwin or Pauly Shore. But it was a really lame movie. Keaton’s better than that.

      I reject the idea that you have to be a kid at heart to enjoy Jack Frost. I read comic books, love amusement parks and watch cartoons. I’m practically Peter Pan. I didn’t dislike Jack Frost because I was too mature or sophisticated for the material. I disliked it because it was poorly executed.


  104. keaton proved himself well to be an action star when he did the first batman. he did a good job as batman. tom hanks on his best day couldn’t bring the darkness and intensity and toughness that keaton had. george clooney sucked when he played batman in batman and robin. everyone knows keaton was the best. hanks could never even be a villian like keaton or like his 2 friends robin williams and john travolta. like i said he’s never done an action movie.


  105. if keaton did a sequel to beetlejuice i would go see it.


  106. keaton needs to do what he does best besides a sequel to beetlejuice, he needs to do more action movies, he should work with tarantino again on another film to get back in the A -list status as a leading man again. so should kurt russell as well.


  107. watched a little of the paper on netflix. gets better every time i see it. keaton did a great performance. last good film he did with ron howard.


  108. well like i said, great movie. people should put it on the cult movies list.


  109. I believe you may be mistaken about the origin of Keaton’s stage name. I remember hearing he decided on his name while reading an article about Diane Keaton during a flight.


    • I did a quick Google search after reading your comment. The Diane Keaton story you cited is the most common one online. I’ll tell you where I got my Buster Keaton story. It was from the July 1989 issue of Premiere mag. I no longer have the interview to reference, so I could be mistaken. If anyone has the interview and can correct me, I would appreciate it. But my recollection is that Keaton cites Buster as the inspiration for his name rather than Diane. I haven’t seen another ineterview where Keaton himself says anything one way or the other. Again, if someone finds a quote from Keaton himself, let me know.


  110. I don’t have a reference either. I think I read about it in a People magazine many years ago. I don’t remember it as being direct quote from an interview, more of a trivia type thing. It stuck with me because I am also a fan, and it was the first time I heard about his real name.
    The Buster Keaton story would make more sense, considering his early comedic background.

    Enjoying the articles. Looking forward to reading the Val Kimer one.


    • You’ve put a bee in my bonnet. I won’t be able to rest until a track down a direct quote. Unfortunately, my copy of Premiere from 1989 was tossed away many years ago. And it seems that it has become something of a collector’s item due to the Batman connection. My recollection was that Keaton specifically shot down the Diane Keaton theory in favor of the Buster Keaton story. Although I remember him saying he was fond of Diane Keaton as well.

      However, the internet currently says otherwise. That story of Michael Keaton choosing the name after reading an article about Diane Keaton is everywhere! But it’s never attributed as a direct quote which makes me wonder if it isn’t an internet legend. I will see what I can do to get a definitive answer.

      Glad you’re enjoying the articles. Hope to hear back from you some more! Welcome to le blog.


      • I did find this quote from a very recent interview:

        Was it hard to get used to a new last name? Did your family have a reaction?

        It hated it. Hate it, hate it, hate it. It was so insignificant. It just didn’t matter. Here’s the good part of it: I get to be totally who I am because of it. Since the only thing I do under that name is professional. I sign my name Michael Douglas, Michael John Douglas, however you want to put it on everything else. So I get to kind of weirdly separate my real life from my reel life. The one thing I was not going to change was my first name. Even as a little kid I liked my first name. I thought that’s a pretty cool name. I’m glad I was named that. I was happy with my last name. What happened was I got a job, and there was a union issue they already had a Mike Douglas and a Michael Douglas. I said, “Yeah, well I don’t want to change my name.” They said, “You have to change your name because they were here first.” So I went down the alphabet and it [Keaton] seemed kind of middle of the road so I thought, well I sign this thing and then I’ll think of some really cool name. But I just never got around to it. I try to get my [original] name in there sometimes. I direct now and I produce a little, and sometimes I’ll work under that name. I don’t know how my family felt. I would feel badly if they felt badly. I think they understood.

        Read more:


  111. Whoops. There’s already a Val Kilmer entry. My mistake. Guess I won’t have to look too far forward. Lol.


    • hehe – yeah the Val Kilmer article is the most popular on the site. Closely followed by Ms. Sean Young who was kind enough to make a cameo appearance (in true Sean Young fashion) in the comments section.


    • Shoot! Shoot! Shoot!

      I had that issue of Premiere, and I remember the discussion about his name change..but I DON’T REMEMBER EXACTLY WHAT HE SAID!!

      So color me additionally bothered.


      • Premiere was great in it’s day. I read it cover to cover. The Keaton issue was my first. Picked it up in DC and then got a subscription which I carried for years. I kind of miss magazines in the internet age.

        It has been decades since I read the article. But I remember 3 things from it.

        1. He addressed his name change. My recollection is he specifically said that while he liked Diane Keaton just fine, he was thinking of Buster Keaton when he chose the name. But I could be off on that.

        2. He worked as a cameraman on Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. The article included a picture of Keaton on the Mr. Rogers set. I think he was standing by the trains.

        3. He said he didn’t want to make Batman movies forever. He said that he didn’t want to turn into some fat old man signing autographs for kids at the mall while wearing a utility belt. So even then, he was thinking about a graceful exit.

        If anyone out there has old Premiere magazines lying around, please confirm. I will continue digging.


  112. keaton needs a not just a good comedy, but also a good action film. that’s what i think. he needs to be back on top of the box office and maybe be nominated for an oscar.


  113. andymovieman

    to this day i’m still going to remember Keaton’s two performances in tim burton films as batman and beetlejuice.


  114. michael keaton was considered to play chili palmer in get shorty before travolta got the role. did you know that lebeau?


    • I did not. That’s interesting. But it’s hard for me to imagine anyone but Travolta in the role. As much as I love Keaton, Travolta really owned that role.


  115. yes he did. you hear about the gay rumors about travolta? do you think it is bullshit or is it true?


    • I had not heard any rumors. That kind of stuff really isn’t on my radar. Honestly, I just don’t care one way or another.


  116. I’ve often wondered where Keaton would be if the 2 Batman films he did actually focused on BATMAN rather than on the villains. To me, this made them just as bad (or lacking) as Joel Schumacher’s flicks.


    • Truth is, I doubt it would have made much of a difference. If he had liked the script for Batman Forever better (which probably would have required it focusing on Bruce Wayne/Batman) I think he would have stuck with the franchise onger and prolonged his time on the A-list a few years. But at the end of the day, the big parts would have dried up and Keaton probably would have walked away. I think his departure from the spotlight was largely a choice as opposed to some others I have covered who were forced out.


  117. keaton was the best batman besides kilmer and bale. he should have done batman forever if joel schumacher wasn’t such a egomaniac and an asshole for screwing up the batman franchise. tim burton should have directed batman forever and keaton should have starred in that.


    • What about Adam West? 😉

      I would have liked to have seen a third Burton/Keaton Batman. But Burton wasn’t interested. And the studio wasn’t interested in having him after the dark, violent Batman Returns. They wanted a guy who could sell Happy Meals. And Schumacher was that guy.

      Did Schumacher screw up the series? Yes and no. Batman Forever was a big hit. Bigger than Batman Returns. In a way, he saved the franchise. At least as far as WB was concerned. Then he killed it dead with Batman and Robin. But, I do think the studio put him in a bit of a no-win situation with that one.

      I really don’t think there was too much chance of Keaton doing a third Batman film without Burton. And there was no chance of Burton doing a third Bat-film. Keaton would have made Batman 3 for Burton because they were friends and collaborators. But he really wanted to be at the center of the next Batman film. But by that point the series was about the villains, not Batman. No one was going to make a Batman movie that would have satisfied Keaton at that point.

      I would have loved to have seen someone like Christopher Nolan direct Keaton as Batman. I actually think Keaton is more interesting in the role than Bale and his Batman growl.


      • Schumacher did not screw up that first Batman franchise; Burton did that himself with BATMAN RETURNS. If I could see that one as a Burton flick, as divorced from Batman in my head as it was on the screen, I’d probably like it a lot better, but as a Batman flick, it’s just awful–an embarrassment to everyone involved. That’s where the series went screaming off the rails. I was in the odd position of watching BATMAN FOREVER without having yet seen BATMAN RETURNS, so I wasn’t aware of the astonishing degradation in the quality of the films. I literally couldn’t believe my eyes–within a very few minutes of my first effort to view it, I turned it off, and offered up an oft-repeated curse at the Adam West series. I see no reasonable basis for dividing FOREVER from AND ROBIN.

        I love the original Burton BATMAN. Unless TDKR (which I haven’t yet seen) was a HUGE step up from BATMAN BEGINS (another awful movie), Burton’s first is still the definitive live-action version of the character, but I definitely wouldn’t have wanted Burton back after RETURNS.


        • I have very mixed feelings about the Burton and Nolan Batman films. I was 18 when Batman came out in 1989. And I absolutely loved it. But not because it was Batman. I loved it for Burton, Nicholson and the production design by Anton Furst. Oh and the Elfman score which still gives me chills. I wasn’t a big super hero guy at the time.

          When I saw Batman Returns, I was disappointed. But I was also intrigued. I went back and saw it again the next weekend. And the weekend after that. I think I saw it four weeks in a row during its theatrical release. It’s a deeply flawed, uneven movie. But parts of it captivated me and still do. I am sure it helps that I still was not a Batman fan.

          Batman Returns led to me watching Batman: the Animated Series in my dorm room after classes. That plus the hoopla over the Death of Superman in comics led to me becoming the super hero fan I am today. Now that I am a Batman fan, I have issues with the Burton films which don’t really have much to say about Batman.

          Batman and Robin is practically a remake of Batman Forever. But I was willing to let a lot of things slide in BF. What can I say, I like pretty lights. I have a hard time watching the movie today, but I don’t consider it a crime against cinema. When George Clooney produced the Bat-credit card during Batman and Robin I audibly groaned in the theater. I haven’t watched that movie again since.

          I like the Nolan Batman films quite a bit better than you do. I think The Dark Knight was a substantial step up from Batman Begins. But I don’t consider Begins to be awful. Merely adequate. I would definitely recommend checking out Dark Knight. I consider it to be the most intelligent super hero movie ever made.

          My complaint with Nolan’s Batman films is that he sacrifices some of the escapsim I enjoy in the super hero genre in the name of “realism”. But then he still does things that throw realism out the window as well. Ideally, I’d like to see a Batman film that marries the sensibilies of Burton and Nolan. A Batman who still has some of the comic book escapism with the sophisticated story-telling of the Nolan films.


      • See, I hear people throw out that “realism” business regarding Nolan’s Batman flicks. I haven’t seen TDK, admittedly, but I don’t see that AT ALL with BEGINS. I wouldn’t have a problem with a realistic Batman, but the central plot of this movie was absolutely ludicrous–as “realistic” as the Smurfs. For absolutely no real reason, let’s spend weeks putting a chemical in the water supply that will, when vaporized by a big, magic gun, make everyone in the city go nuts. Apparently, no one in Gotham takes hot showers, boils water, drinks coffee, or anything else employing hot water (all of which would release the chemical prematurely); in fact, no one in Gotham uses any water at all, because if they did, the chemically-infected water–inserted via a main–would all be used up. I don’t see anything “sophisticated” in that at all. It’s like a story for not-particularly-bright children (like a darker version of something from the Adam West series). I wrote out some of my thoughts on this abysmal film right after I saw it:

        Unlike you, I was a comic fan (and provisional Batman fan) all my life, so when the first Burton flick rolled around (we’re about the same age), I’d been waiting for it for years. What Burton did was make a movie out of the earliest years of the comic. That could be seen as a mistake, but I really liked this take on the character and the world. One scene that always sticks out for me is the one right after Wayne leaves the flowers in Crime Alley–having just relived that trauma, he immediately sees the Joker murder a bunch of gangsters, and when a bullet rips by him, barely missing him, he doesn’t flinch or even blink. I like that a lot. A lot of people, particularly after BEGINS, complained that first Burton flick spent too much time with the Joker, which I’ve never really understood. The Batman is supposed to be a dark and mysterious figure. If, in translating that to the screen, you spend every second with him, outlining his every move and every trick (as in BEGINS), you completely destroy that (I thought Burton was wrong to show him using various gadgets at certain moments because of this). Burton’s picture is far from perfect, to be sure, but I still think it is, as I said, the best live-action Batman flick.


        • I see what you mean about Begins. The 3rd act has always been tricky. The movie kind of falls apart. The irony is that I would be more willing to accept it from a fanciful movie like Burton’s Batman than I am from a movie that keeps trying to convince me it is set in the real world. Nolan trades escapism for “reality” and then gives up some of that too. However, I do appreciate that Nolan is really making an effort to say something about the characters instead of just having A-list talent vamp in showy villain roles.

          I like the Golden Age Batman feel of Burton’s movie. I always loved that it had a timeless quality. And I didn’t mind the focus on the Joker because he was the most interesting guy in the movie by far. Burton would have been crazy to give him less screen time. But the movie doesn’t hold together very well. For instance, the scene you described where the Joker murders a bunch of gangsters. He does this in plain sight at City Hall. The mobsters were holding some kind of press conference to announce that they were taking over Grissom’s business. What the heck is that?

          One of my favorite stories from the set of Batman 89 was when they were filming the ending. Originally, Vicki Vale was supposed to die. But they decided that was a downer, so they kind of made up the end as they went along. (And it shows.) When they were filiming the scenes with Nicholson marching Basinger up the steps of the cathedral, Nicholson asked Burton what his plan was. Burton told him they would figure it out when they got to the top.

          I like Batman 89 a lot. But I think I am probably being kind to it based on when I saw it. I’m not sure I would like it so much if I saw it for the first time today.

          Keaton did rock it though.


      • In a way, you can argue that Tim Burton (and to a lesser or certain extent, Daniel Waters, who besides writing “Heathers” wrote the screenplay for “Batman Returns”) also had a major hand in the apparent downfall or decline of the original, pre-Christopher Nolan, Batman series. In order to ensure his return (no pun intended) as director for the next Batman movie after the monster success of the 1989 film, Warner Bros. gave Burton carte blanche creatively for “Batman Returns”.


        • No doubt.

          Batman Returs was a mess largely because Burton was never satisfied with the screenplay. He kept having it rewritten until it was a Frankenstein’s monster. Coherent storytelling has never been a strength of Burton’s. I still find Returns to be an interesting flick because of Burton’s touches and some great performances by Keaton and Pfeiffer. But set in motion the collapse of the franchise.


  118. batman returns and forever weren’t that bad. batman 1989 was great. batman and robin was the worst batman movie i’ve ever seen. schwarzenegger should have done a better action movie in 1997 than that piece of crap batman movie, after a great movie like eraser.


    • Batman and Robin was utterly terrible. At one point Bruce Willis was up for the role of Mr. Freeze. I was disappointed when he didn’t get it. But in retrospect, it turned out for the best. He couldn’t have saved that movie.


  119. so was sylvester stallone who was also considered to be mr. freeze. if arnold did the jackal with bruce willis or cop land with stallone or air force one in the harrison ford role things would have been better for arnold.


  120. what do you think that arnold should have done a better action movie in 1997 lebeau?


    • I think that Arnold was winding down in the late 90s. I can see why a Batman villain role would appeal to him. I think he really needed Cameron to give his career a boost.


      • What’s weird is that even though he took part in arguably the most hated/notorious superhero movie ever made (and in the process, seriously hurt his drawing power), Arnold Schwarzenegger recently claimed that he didn’t regret making “Batman & Robin” (he seems to be more ashamed of making “Red Sonja”):

        “I don’t regret it at all,” Arnold Schwarzenegger told Empire Magazine (in a recent issue featuring a lengthy feature on his incredible career) when asked about his role as ‘Mr Freeze’ in the critically panned Batman & Robin. “I felt that the character was interesting and two movies before that one Joel Schumacher was at his height. So the decision-making process was not off. At the same time I was doing Eraser over there and Warner Bros. begged me to do the movie.” So, looking back, does he have any regrets about agreeing to be a part of the comic book adaptation? “In most cases I don’t regret the movies that failed or were not as good. It’s always easy to be smug in hindsight, right?”


        • I think that’s fair. Why should he regret it. Daddy got PAID!

          Schwarzenegger doesn’t strike me as a guy who has a lot of regrets. Even when he should.


  121. i think he and cameron should have done another movie together in 1997 instead of batman and robin and titanic that stupid boat sinking movie.


    • I like but don’t love Titanic. Which is pretty much how I feel about most Cameron films. On the whole, it turned out pretty well for Cameron.

      I am actually working on a bit on Arnold, so we can talk more about him (hopefully very) soon.


  122. good. i’m up on that since i’ve nearly ceased blogging on certain things about movies and actors. i hope expendables 2 will be good with arnold, sly, bruce, van damme, dolph lundgren and chuck norris,


  123. since we talked about batman forever i was thinking about the best villianous roles i saw tommy lee jones do in his life besides batman forever and i miss seeing him as a villian. the truth is i also like when he’s the hero as well. what are the best villianous roles that you liked tommy lee jones in besides batman forever, lebeau?


    • I have to admit, I’m not really a fan of any of Jones’ villain roles. At least none come to mind. I hated his performance in Batman Forever. I consider his over-the-top cackling the worst thing in that movie.

      Does The Fugitive count? He’s not a villain. But he is an antogonist.


      • I actually saw an interview w Jones in which he called two-face a “second rate Jeckyl & Hyde.” He clearly had no understanding of the part, and the script he was given didn’t do him any favors in that department.


        • I heard that he was (understandably) worried about being upstaged by Jim Carrey. They were very competitive on the set. I think Jones cranked up his acting to 11 as a result. It’s probably the most embarassing performance of his career and the worst thing in a pretty lousy movie.

          I did enjoy Nicole Kidman though.


  124. no it doesn’t count, it has to be his villianous roles which he dies in. (A.) he’s the hero or anti hero in the fugitive like he was in men in black. he’s not the antagonist in that. (B.) it has to be the package, when he was up against gene hackman, under siege when he was up against seagal, natural born killers, jfk, small soldiers and blown away with jeff bridges. ( C.)that’s the villianous roles i’ve seen him play. so if you haven’t seen the package, blown away, under siege, etc. my advice? rent them all or if not watch them on netflix.


    • I have not seen The Package. But Jones vs. Hackman sounds appealing. Two great actors.

      I saw Under Siege. I didn’t have a strong opinion one way or another. I couldn’t verify this but someone I know insisted that Jones denies ever having made a movie with Segal. It is apparently not a favorite of his.

      I remember not liking Natural Born Killers. I may have to sit through it again some day. Oliver Stone films are always interesting on some level. But I thought NBK was unpleasant.

      I like JFK. So that will probably be my answer by default.

      I liked Blown Away, but I felt like it had at least one twist too many. I stopped caring before the movie was over.

      Small Soldiers is another movie I forgot existed. Never did see it.


  125. the scenes with tommy lee jones in natural born killers were good better than the beginning but mickey and mallory could have killed his character as well than the prisoners or they could have used his character in escape from ny and it would be cool to see kurt russell and tommy lee jones go face to face. tommy lee jones is good friends with the director of under siege, the fugitive and the package, did you know that? blown away is one of the best action films i’ve seen with jeff bridges and tommy lee jones. i would have to choose blown away over arlington road anyday of the week. i would also have to say that i like as much as i like the tron movies and the big lebowski and the fugitive movies and men in black films, etc.


  126. what do you think lebeau about this character study on tommy lee jones’s villianous roles?


  127. arlington road is about domestic terrorists and their conspiracy in a suburban neighborhood and that jeff bridges finds out about their plan and gets killed and framed for a bombing he didn’t commit and the bad guys like tim robbins and joan cusack get away in the end. blown away was different sure, bridges fought the main terrorist bad guy but he managed to get out of a burning boat that left the bad guy to die and managed to find and defuse another bomb that was for his wife. arlington road was stupid it could have been like blown away with the hero winning and surviving and the villian losing and getting caught or dying.


  128. i think the movie you were refering to before was arlington road lebeau not blown away.


    • Yep, I was thinking of AR. I can’t rememeber whether or not I actually watched Blown Away. I remember it coming out. Just don’t remember if I watched it or not.


  129. so watch blown away and tell me what you think.


  130. andymovieman

    i still think gung ho and the paper were better the freakin da vinci code movies.


    • I can agree with that. But I really didn’t like The Da Vinci Code and I skipped the sequel.

      I am not a fan of Gung Ho. It’s watchable purely because of Keaton. I do agree that The Paper was under-rated.


  131. andymovieman

    keaton is underrated, but to me he is a lot more fun to watch than tom hanks in a movie. he can play a good hero and a good villian. michael keaton has done action comedy and drama, i’ll give you that. keaton is a legend.


  132. andymovieman

    i’m so glad keaton never got to be as political as tom hanks is now or as his batman predecessor george clooney. to be honest i think for actors concentrating more caring on the fans, performance and passion for the money and the movie business is a lot better than caring more about politics, kissing ass with greedy politicians and forcing political statements on your fans. fans want to see a good movie that isn’t negative in any way. they don’t care about the political views unless of course if it is very negative in any way that offends a fan. i’m not saying this to be hypocritical lebeau. i’m saying this as my opinion meets fact. i see it a lot with hollywood these days. michael keaton and some good underrated actors i see are the only actors i like that care more about their fans and profession than their politics and forcing political statements on us. i’m not saying this to be right wing or left wing. i’m a libertarian.


  133. andymovieman

    so i hope you and jim jones and your viewers understand that. i’m not saying this to be negative in any way, i’m just telling it like it is.


  134. I’d love to see Keaton paired up with Jack Nicholsen in a very dark & wild Tim Burton film, with Jodi Foster ( and with cameos by a slew of hollywood’s best)


  135. andymovieman

    i would love to see keaton do a good action film almost like desperate measures. if he is a hero or villian it wouldn’t matter to me. and another turn at playing ray nicollette as well.


  136. Hi lebeau, I like your blog. I was wondering if you have email where I can send you stuff on various things?


  137. any chance michael is looking at any batman spoofs


  138. i still believe in keaton and many other underrated actors i see that are much more talented than the overrated actors of today. keaton has done great performances in the 80s and 90s and he faded in 2000 because most of the talented filmmakers never had their eye set on him for a movie they wanted to do. they wanted overrated stars like tom hanks, george clooney and johnny depp which really bothers me the way i look at it. that’s why now i only watch movies with underrated stars than the overrated stars of today.


  139. there are times i ask myself what are the best films michael keaton did in the 80s and 90s, (e.g) batman, batman returns, beetlejuice, mr. mom, gung ho , the paper, speechless, desperate measures, one good cop, multiplicity, dream team, pacific heights, and jackie brown. and those are the good movies that keaton did in the 80s and 90s that are cult classics or guilty pleasures every time you watch them. i do wish keaton worked with ron howard and tim burton again. i miss how he was with those guys. keaton is underrated i’ll give you that. if anybody makes a petition that keaton should do a good movie and gets nominated for an oscar and works with great directors, i’ll sign it.


    • do u know of any plans for michael to do any more batman movies, either actor or director


      • I think that is highly unlikely.

        I think I have mentioned this before, but I remember reading an interview with Keaton from Premiere magazine back in 89 just before the first Batman movie was released. In the interview, he talked about his fears of being typecast as Batman. He described how he had nightmares about being a has-been wearing the Batman costume at the mall with kids on his lap.

        The fact that he walked away from the franchise after the second movie suggests to me that Keaton was never overly interested to begin with. And I don’t think WB has any great interest in hiring Keaton for anything much less Batman.

        Never say never. But I think Keaton is more likely to make a Beetlejuice sequel than anything Bat-related. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for either one.


  140. The comments on this Michael Keaton page are some of the most interesting I have read on your blog to date. I absolutely adore Michael Keaton. Whenever Night Shift, Mr. Mom, or Beetlejuice pop up on the tube, I will not switch the channel, no matter how many times I have seen those movies. His acting style is very natural, his facial expressions are downright comical and, with the exception of Beetlejuice, he is never over-the-top. (In Beetlejuice, Keaton was over the top in a great, evil way.) If he is turning down some roles, maybe Keaton just doesn’t want to act anymore which I find disappointing because I miss his presence so much. I, too, had heard that he made a killing from his Batman royalties so it’s good to know he is rich and enjoying a comfortable life. That’s what we all wish for ourselves. Keaton has the type of “it” factor that audiences can’t resist: he’s likeable. And I disagree with you on Johnny Dangerously, I thought it was funny, silly but funny. But I don’t mind silly every once in awhile. Like Airplane, you can only watch this type of farce once or twice and then the gag is over.


    • I have to confess that when I was a kid, I thought Johnny Dangerously was hysterical. So I can’t really pretend I am better than Johnny Dangerously.

      I agree Keaton is great. I wish he worked more because he brings something to every movie he’s in. I just watched Gung Ho the other day for the first time in decades. It was better than I remembered. And that’s all Keaton. He completely carries that movie.

      These days, Keaton is very choosy about projects. He says he’s just not that interested in seeing himself on screen which may explain why he has become part of the Pixar voice-over crew in the Cars and Toy Story movies.


  141. which sucks because we really don’t see keaton that much. all we see is overrated actors like johnny depp and tom hanks working with directors like tim burton and ron howard that keaton worked with years ago and making movies now, while keaton is barely doing a good movie. that’s what i miss about keaton, he should get back in the game. he’s letting these overrated actors get all the glory. it just pisses me off. he should go for an action film like the expendables.


    • I’ll agree I would like to see Keaton do more. I think he would get more work if he wanted it. I do wonder why he doesn’t work with Burton any more. I don’t think they had a falling out. They appear to still be friendly. I have seen them both say they want to do another Beetlejuice. So, who knows.

      Is Johnny Depp over-rated? Hmmmm. I have to think about that. He’s an immensely talented guy. Good looking. Has a good track record at the box office. He is reportedly the most popular actor working today. But he couldn’t save Dark Shadows. Or The Tourist. And I have a bad feeling about The Lone Ranger.

      Tom Hanks really isn’t working in front of the camera all that much these days. And he’s on a bit of a losing streak. I might be adapting his article to a “What the Hell Happened” in a few years.


  142. Great article! I know understand what happend to him. You forget the Mr. Rogers special he did on PBS though.


  143. good news! Michael keaton is going to be the villian in the robocop remake. what do you think lebeau?


  144. i find it cool to see michael in a good action film as the villian since desperate measures.


    • There have been a lot of negative comments about the script for Robocop. The director described the working conditions as “hellish”. The odds are, it won’t be very good. But the chance to see Keaton play a villain again is too good to pass up.


      • 10 Likeable Actors Who Need to Play Psychopaths:

        6. Michael Keaton

        It’s perhaps apt that Michael Keaton has just snagged the role of the villain in the upcoming Robocop remake – after Hugh Laurie dropped out – because he’s one actor who really needs more bad-guy roles on his CV. Keaton is obviously best-known for his work as Batman, and a peek at his filmography largely lists roles as the comic or romantic lead, or more recently, the quirky dad.

        He has branched out into more adventurous ambiguity in some indie roles, though he rarely indulges himself in pure, unsavoury villainy. Imagine his role in Jackie Brown, as the slick cop chasing down the bad guys, but pushed five steps to the right; give him a drug addiction, a penchant for whores, and an insatiable hunger for justice, and he could play fantastically in a Bad Lieutenant-esque role that would remind us he still has plenty to say.


  145. well if keaton does this it will get him more good roles in action films as well as comedy and drama.


  146. Hooray! I am first in line to see the Robocop remake then…thanks so much for the head’s up, andymovieman.


  147. you’re welcome.


  148. I love you, you are spot on. I’ve read them all…. I want more. Please.


    • Thanks for the kind words. There are more on the way. As soon as I post a new article, I start researching the next WTHH. Be sure to vote in the WTHH poll to help decide who should be featured next.

      Thanks for reading!


  149. the michael keaton david letterman interview you asked for:


    • You found it you found it you found it!!!

      Oh thank you thank you! I was starting to wonder if I had imagined it. I was already a fan, but this totally won me over for life.


  150. Enjoyed this, cheers dude. More dark roles for Keaton!


  151. i agree keaton needs more roles for good films.


  152. you forgot “the merry gentlemen” thats a good one!!


    • I tend not to spend a lot of time on movies that didn’t get wide theatrical releases. But I definitely need to go back and flesh this article out a little. Some of the earlier articles weren’t as in-depth as the ones I am putting out now.


  153. next year i’m only seeing good movies with action and drama and maybe a little comedy if it has good actors i like who did great films in the 80s. robocop remake with keaton is one of them plus a sequel to beetlejuice if they ever get around to making it and having keaton and burton and the rest of the cast back.


  154. That’s Boardwalk Empire’s Kelly MacDonald in The Merry Gentleman with Keaton. She’s had an enviable career, including roles in Trainspotting, Elizabeth, Gosford Park, Finding Neverland, No Country for Old Men, and the very final Harry Potter film.
    I think she’s pretty.


  155. LeBeau, if you haven’t heard it yet, Marc Maron did a great, lengthy interview with Michael Keaton last week on his “WTF” podcast. I’m shaky at making links but you can find it at It’s the January 3rd episode.


  156. I posted this on Lebeau’s Facebok page previously about theories regarding why Michael Keaton feel off of the A-list by the end of the ’90s. When I posted this WTHHT page on Google Groups, somebody replied in saying that playing Batman may have hurt Michael’s career not from the standpoint of it typecasting him like what happened w/ Adam West, but because it convinced him to drift away from comedic and/or lighter roles and just focused on trying to be a dramatic actor.

    Perhaps the biggest problem was that Tom Hanks (who like Keaton, was more known as a comedic actor in the early part of his career) over the course of the ’90s took on the dramatic roles that arguably would’ve been suitable for Keaton.

    Granted, “Batman” most likely made it so that he didn’t have to play those types of comedic roles if he didn’t want or need to anymore (at least immediately) but in the few comedies he made after “Beetlejuice”, he arguably no longer had the same energy level.


    • I think there is some truth to that theory. It put Keaton in a position of power which he used to make movies which were less commercial. But I don’t really think that Hanks was taking Keaton’s roles. During Keaton’s reign as Batman, Hanks was making Joe Vs. the Volcano and Bonfire of the Vanities.

      Hanks was in a career slump. The movies that pulled him out were A League of Their Own, Sleepless in Seatle and Philadelphia. Keaton would have rocked A League of Their Own, but he didn’t need a comeback movie. The part was too small for him. Sleepless in Seatle would have been a poor fit for Keaton who didn’t really do rom coms. Philadelphia would have been a great fit. But I imagine Keaton could have made that movie instead of My Life if he had wanted to.

      I can’t really see Keaton as Forrest Gump. And that was the movie that cemented Hanks as America’s most beloved actor. From that point on, Keaton and Hanks were on completely different career paths.


      • I hate to bring up Tom Hanks again for why Michael Keaton’s star ultimately dwindled, but I would also speculate that just like Tim Burton replaced him w/ Johnny Depp as his favorite leading man, Ron Howard seemed to eventually replace Michael w/ Tom Hanks as his favorite leading man well after “Splash” (i.e. “Apollo 13”, “The Da Vinci Code”, and “Angels and Demons”).

        From what I’ve gathered, Michael has said in interviews that he doesn’t like doing movies that are repeats of projects he has already done. But since it’s a safe argument that Hollywood hardly original anymore, maybe he just hasn’t been offered anything good.

        I’ve been reading on Michael Keaton’s IMDb message board regarding which movie negatively effected his career as an A-list leading man the most. It’s understandable to first and foremost say “Jack Frost”, because after that, it seemed like he stopped trying to be a mainstream type of star. I also read that while “Jack Frost” may have been the “finishing blow” (and while we’re on the subject of that movie, you should check out the Nostalgia Critic’s review), movies like “My Life” and “Speechless” certainly didn’t help.


        • For a while, Howard alteranted between Hanks and Keaton. But he had a lot more box office success with Hanks. So it’s understandable that he would keep working with Hanks over Keaton.

          I did just rewatch The Paper this weekend and it’s a good movie. Keaton, frankly, saves it. The flaws are typical of Howard at the time. It had a little too much Parenthood going on.

          I don’t think the two had a falling out per se. I think Howard would cast Keaton again today if the right project came along. Mostly, Keaton just doesn’t seem interested in mainstream work any more.

          The films you listed definitely were damaging. I’d also look at Desperate Measures.



          Doug  •  7 hours ago
          What happened to his career? in the 80s he was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, especially in comedies, yet it seemed like his career went downhill after Batman Returns. it's funny, i was watching a 30-year-old Siskel and Ebert episode on Youtube where they reviewed Splash, and Siskel called Tom Hanks a "poor imitation of Michael Keaton." now Hanks is one of the world's biggest movie stars, yet Keaton is just that guy people remember from the first two Batmans and Beetlejuice.


        • Michael Keaton Says He’d Play Batman Again — Under One Condition:

          In his new film Birdman, Michael Keaton plays an aging actor living in the shadow of a past superhero role. It would be easy to see this as Keaton’s swan song to Batman, a character he re-invented for the big screen in Tim Burton’s Batman and Batman Returns. But Keaton says that’s not the case. In fact, he’d be willing to play Batman again – under one condition.

          “If it was Tim Burton directing? In a heartbeat,” Keaton tells Entertainment Weekly in a new cover story.

          That idea of Keaton and Burton making another trip to Gotham should be enough to give Batman fans heart palpitations, however unlikely it may be. For now, Warner Bros. won’t give the cowl to anyone except Ben Affleck, who plays the Caped Crusader in the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. And Keaton famously bowed out of the third Batman movie when producers started asking for bigger (and broader) approach. “I hadn’t been stupid about it,” the actor told EW. “I always knew it was a big machine with a big studio and a corporation behind it. But the simple answer was, [that approach] wasn’t any good…I tried to make them understand. But when somebody says to you, ‘Does it have to be so dark?’… I thought, ‘Are we talking about the same character?’”

          For Keaton, the character’s appeal lies in his dual personalities: Vigilante superhero Batman and wealthy dilettante Bruce Wayne. “Now I can say this, because for many reasons, I never allowed myself to say it at the time: It was never about Batman for me. It was always about Bruce Wayne,” Keaton tells EW. “He’s funny! He’s screwed-up! The guy is the coolest motherf—-er in the world, and he’s messed-up!”

          Despite (or perhaps because of) his personal investment in the character, Keaton hasn’t seen a single one of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight movies, and has no notes or advice for Ben Affleck. But he does feel strongly that Tim Burton still “gets” the genre better than anyone else. “Tim, in movies, really invented the whole dark-superhero thing,” Keaton says. “He started everything, and some of the guys who have done these movies since then don’t say that, and they’re wrong.”


        • For some reason, I get the vibe that Michael never really saw the big deal in regards to being Batman. In other words, it was pretty much another job for him (and a chance to prove that he could do more than be a goofy comedian) and a chance to work w/ his buddy Tim Burton. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Michael never really wanted to do “Batman Returns” (because he wanted to diversify) but only came back to apiece Tim Burton (and of course, the increased salary helped).


        • I think there’s something to that. He’s been saying recently he’d play Batman again but only if Burton directs.


        • Michael Keaton is loyal to Tim Burton to a fault. Burton could make a passable/decent Batman movie if he’s put on a leash/has a filter. If you let Burton have full control, then you get something like “Batman Returns”. My point is that Tim Burton is one of those directors who seems to suffer from “George Lucas Syndrome”:

          His Success: Tim Burton’s career successes speak for themselves: Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, two Batman movies, Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride, Sweeney Todd, Frankenweenie and Big Eyes. Hell, even his critical busts tend to turn a profit, and in fact the only sure financial duds in his entire career are Ed Wood (which nevertheless earned him huge acclaim) and Mars Attacks!, even if Big Fish and Dark Shadows were considered commercial disappointments too. People love his style, and so even his terrible movies tend to make money.

          His Failures: This is obviously more an artistic than commercial failure, because though Burton occasionally comes out with something totally different like Big Eyes, he’s just too complacent and eager to stick to the same gothic stylings which define the vast majority of his output. It’s what fans expect and so, given how much money these sorts of films tend to make, Burton seems reluctant to move away from the same tired palette and style, while usually finding a quirky supporting part for Johnny Depp or Helena Bonham Carter (though following his recent split from Carter, perhaps that’s all about to change).

          From the last decade, Alice in Wonderland and Dark Shadows were the straws that broke the camel’s back: wildly over-budgeted movies which, though stylish (even in that totally predictable Tim Burton way), boasted very little of substance to speak of, and as such were given mixed critical notices, while a lot of Burton fans began to lose their patience with his lazy filmmaking.

          How He Can Save His Career: Make something totally different. Big Eyes was an encouraging step away from Burton’s typical work, and it’d be great to see him experimenting with different colors in his upcoming work. With Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Beetlejuice 2 and a live-action Dumbo movie on his slate, though, don’t get your hopes up.


        • Actors/Actresses/Directors Who Have Gotten A Raw Deal:

          Michael Keaton – What the f*** happened? How did this guy go from Beetlejuice and Batman to pretty much nothing at all? He should have been one of the biggest stars in the 90’s! It’s like Hollywood said, “Well, we have Tom Hanks already, so f*** Michael Keaton.” Complete horses***. Michael Keaton is awesome and it’s really a shame his career became so quiet so quickly.


        • Michael Keaton: I didn’t make any more Batman films because the scripts were “bad”:

          Michael Keaton disappointed Batman fans when he did not add to his tally of Caped Crusader films after Batman in 1989 and Batman Returns in 1992.

          In the past he has always been diplomatic about his disinclination to make any more, but the real reason will not surprise fans of the franchise.

          “The script was bad,” he tells “They were very clear that they were not interested in trying to make it different.

          “So I said OK – I think I’d rather do it another way, I think there’s a better way, and there was. The way I suggested was ultimately done by Chris Nolan by going back [to an origin story]. He’s a great director.”

          After Batman Returns, Bruce Wayne’s cape and mask was handed to Val Kilmer for the disappointing third film Batman Forever, which was directed by Joel Schumacher and released in 1995.

          Christopher Nolan did indeed “go back” to the superhero’s origins as Keaton puts it. He made The Dark Knight trilogy starring Christian Bale which comprises Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008) and The Dark Knight Rises in 2012.

          Ben Affleck has now been cast as Wayne, millionaire-turned-superhero, in 2016’s Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

          Asked what he thought of the films which followed his tenure in the role, Keaton says: “I haven’t seen them but I know that [Batman actor] Christian Bale is a brilliant actor and Ben Affleck’s gonna be terrific.”

          Keaton has often spoken about his antipathy for superhero films and this seems to find expression in his latest movie Birdman, in which he plays Riggan Thomson (see trailer below). He is a washed-up actor, desperate to earn respect with a high-brow stage adaptation of a Raymond Carver novel but finds himself haunted by the superhero character Birdman which found him fame.

          “I’ve never seen any of those movies,” he adds. “I saw the first Spiderman. I’ve seen pieces of Ironman, I’ve seen pieces of the Batman things – I’ve never seen an Avengers or anything. I don’t see that many movies; I don’t see enough movies.

          “There’s a certain snobbery that sits around blockbuster films, which sometimes I think is very dangerous – they can be brilliantly made, bring great joy to people and be their own art form. Critics can be quite snobby about that.”

          It’s clear that Keaton is ambivalent about the Hollywood machine but he claims not to have any regrets.

          “I’m a fortunate dude. There are people that have it really hard out there. I don’t have it hard. I have it nice.”


        • I don’t entirely understand where Michael Keaton is going with this. He (if I read it correctly) said that he hasn’t seen the Christopher Nolan Batman movies and yet he said that he wanted his third Batman movie to be sort of like “Batman Begins”.

          He also said that he would play Batman again (granted, I don’t know if Keaton was being factitious given that it has been over 20 years since he last played Batman) only if Tim Burton directed it. But it was while Tim Burton was directing that Keaton was short-changed in favor of the villains (most egregiously in “Batman Returns”). So if Burton came back for a third time, how much of a guarantee would there be for there to truly be a solid focus on Bruce Wayne/Batman?

          You have to however, keep in mind that when you’re making a Batman movie, you’re also making a movie about Bruce Wayne. Otherwise, what’s the point if you’re not going to properly develop and feature your main character. More to the point, why exactly did the villains get better character development? The Joker quite frankly, wasn’t asking for a pre-villain spotlight as “Jack Napier”. Don’t you agree that the Joker is a scarier opponent when he don’t know much about him or why exactly he is what he is?

          It just seemed like (as I alluded to before) Tim Burton gravitated towards the grotesque and fantastical and Batman was the least interesting character among the group. He simply reacted to things because “he’s the good guy”. Hell, Selina Kyle was pretty much the real protagonist in “Batman Returns”. Therefore, if you removed Batman from the equation, then you can argue that there would’ve only been a slight difference.

          Why should it ultimately be up to Michael Keaton in regards to how appropriate Batman should be featured after only two movies? It’s almost no different than Christopher Reeve demanding story credit for “Superman IV” and thinking that Superman should involve himself in real-world, geopolitical issues like the nuclear arms race.


      • What happened to Thora Birch?–and other actors that seemed to disappear for no reason…:

        Originally Posted by Mississippienne

        Michael Keaton is a much more bizarre case — good actor, fits into a lot of ‘everyman’ roles, but seemingly dropped off the Hollywood radar. It seems he and Cuba Gooding, Jr. must share the same agent, since Keaton made a couple of dire movies — he was a snowman in one — and that seems to have killed any momentum he had.
        I guess maybe that’s part of the problem – that he’s just sort of an everyman actor. Looking back it’s kind of surprising he even got Batman, being a comedy actor, not particularly good looking, not known for being a tough guy. Granted, he turned out to be pretty good in it, and up until the Christopher Nolan films, he defined the role in my mind. But he’s not really an obvious choice for a lot of the sort of big budget action roles, especially back in the late ’80/early ’90s, that would have made him a star.

        Originally Posted by joebuck20
        But he’s not really an obvious choice for a lot of the sort of big budget action roles, especially back in the late ’80/early ’90s, that would have made him a star.

        The thing is, Keaton *was* a star. A big star. An A-lister. The question is why he didn’t keep doing movies that played to his strengths.


      • The irreducible element of Michael Keaton:

        In an entertaining installment of Grantland’s “B.S. Report” podcast last year, Bill Simmons and Wesley Morris examined Jodie Foster’s filmography in an attempt to determine if she was, in the site’s parlance, “Overrated, Underrated, or Properly Rated.” Simmons framed the discussion in terms of career wins and losses, a reductive but surprisingly effective approach that ended up being a nuanced way to talk about a long career. In the course of the conversation, Morris introduces the term “Hollywood market correction,” when one actor ends up having the career another once seemed destined to have, e.g. Kevin Costner stepping into the slot once seemingly reserved for Mark Harmon when the latter looked poised for big-screen stardom in the late 1980s. Again, it’s a cold way of looking at how Hollywood works that reduces what ought to be ineffable qualities to stats. It also holds up to scrutiny. Squint, and it’s easy to imagine an alternate universe in which Costner ended up on N.C.I.S., and Harmon delivered Ron Shelton monologues and carried Whitney Houston to safety.

        Then Simmons and Morris go too far. Applying the same methodology, Simmons refers to Tom Hanks benefitting from a market correction that pushed Michael Keaton aside in the early ’90s. There may be something to that. There were, and are, only so many slots for leading men who can alternate comedy and drama. Birdman, Keaton’s new film—and the first significant film to cast him front-and-center since 2005’s White Noise—even seems to acknowledge this: As Keaton’s character skulks around outside the theater where he’s staging a Raymond Carver adaptation, Hanks’ smiling face can be seen on the marquee of a competing production called Lucky Guy. But beyond suggesting the limits of the Hollywood imagination, the comparison also illustrates the limits of this kind of statistical analysis. It misses the irreducible Keatonness of what Michael Keaton brings to his roles, an unstable element that informs his best performances.

        It’s there from the start. Keaton had his first significant film role in the Ron Howard comedy Night Shift, where he co-starred alongside Henry Winkler (as a meek morgue attendant) and Shelley Long (as a heart-of-gold prostitute). Keaton plays Bill “Blaze” Blazejowski, an early incarnation of the ’80s Party Dude, the beer-drinking, shades-wearing, babe-loving good-time-guy who was ubiquitous throughout the decade. (The type reached its fullest flowering with the ascent of Bruce Willis, and to a lesser extent, Spuds McKenzie, toward the decade’s end.) In lesser hands, Blaze would be more device than character. The script, the first big-screen effort from sitcom veterans Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, attempts to provide a late-in-the-game sentimental motivation for his character, but the real work of fleshing Blaze out comes from Keaton, who puts no distance between himself and his character’s madness. There’s a glint to his eye that suggests, however benevolent his intentions, something has cracked behind his eyes.

        Keaton always kept madness in his arsenal. In Mr. Mom, he ends up talking to himself, driven crazy by the then-outrageous idea of a man acting as a homemaker while his wife worked. In Clean And Sober, he’s a drug and alcohol abuser driven to destructive behavior by his addictions. In Pacific Heights, he’s a murderous tenant. And in The Dream Team, he plays an mental patient, suffering from a mostly harmless sort of twinkly movie madness, but an unwell man nonetheless. For Tim Burton, he made Beetlejuice an unpredictable engine of chaos, and Bruce Wayne a hero driven as much by his own instability as a desire for justice. Anger and revenge provide the motives for Christian Bale’s Batman; Keaton’s Batman has trained and armored himself, but remains a hurt kid inside. When the staff of the Gotham Globe chose the headline “Winged Freak Terrorizes Gotham’s Gangland,” they were closer to the truth than they realized.

        The subsequent roles that didn’t fully work for Keaton de-emphasized that innate freakishness and veered closer to territory staked out by Hanks. The freak is back in Keaton’s Birdman performance, however. Whatever you think of the film—I like it only slightly more than our own Scott Tobias did, and Scott likes it only slightly more than eating glass—there’s no denying Keaton’s forceful performance. Though he’s first seen assuming the lotus position, and levitating, his Riggan Thompson is far from at peace with himself. Pressure mounts as the opening night of his play approaches, and Riggan grows increasingly unstable. The voice in his head—the voice of Birdman, the big-screen superhero he played—grows louder. Everyone around him becomes a target: his daughter, his lover, his manager. He’s performing an act of creation that doubles as an act of self-destruction. The pain even seeps into his quiet moments. Talking to Sylvia (Amy Ryan), his ex-wife, he recalls a suicide attempt from years ago. However much he can pin his current turmoil on a specific cause—the production of the play—he recognizes that the demons hounding him now have always been with him.

        Keaton conveys that kind of haunted, something’s-kind-of-off-about-him quality better than almost anyone, even if there hasn’t been enough room for him to do so in Hollywood of late. Birdman, could, and should, change that, initiating its own kind of market correction. Because if the movie business used to see Hanks and Keaton as interchangeable, there’s no making that mistake now. Imagine, again, a parallel universe, one in which Keaton had Tom Hanks’ 1990s, while Hanks missed out on the best parts, and had memorable small roles in Out Of Sight and Jackie Brown, but less-memorable big roles in almost everything else. In some ways, it’s a futile exercise. Hanks is brilliant in roles that Keaton couldn’t play. (Though Keaton would have killed as the alcoholic baseball manager in A League Of Their Own.) Now imagine Hanks attempting to make a comeback in a film like Birdman, attempting to convey an artist tortured by his muse, his family, and his insecurity. The mind just won’t stretch that far. The ability to portray some sorts of madness is reserved for those with a lifelong understanding of them.


    • What Makes a Movie Good:

      89. mclaren says:
      May 16, 2009 at 10:23 pm

      Michael Keaton vanished because he built up a career making screwball comedy movies and his audience came to expect him in that role. Then Keaton completely jumped the rails to do 2 Batman films, playing a serious role. Suddenly Keaton’s fans no longer knew what to expect. Keaton found himself unable to return to doing light screwball comedies like Night Shift and Beetlejuice because he had now gotten the rep of a serious actor doing heavy roles in grim movies, like Jackie Brown. But Keaton never really found his metier in grim serious movies. So he disappeared.

      Actors get typecast, and if they make too many similar films (Burt Reynolds, Michael J. Fox), they bore their audience and vanish. But if they try to jump out of that typecasting into a radically different role, they risk confusing their audience and in that case, they also lose their audience and vanish.

      Being an actor or actress must be an incredibly tough life. Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t…plus, 90% unemployment rate. If you think you’ve got it tough, be thankful you’re not an actor or actress.


  157. In a way, I want to believe that Michael Keaton stepping away from the Batman franchise after two movies was kind of the beginning of the end of his stint as an A-list, box office star. I’m not necessarily saying that it was an out and out mistake of him to not do what would become “Batman Forever” (he probably thought “If Tim Burton isn’t coming back then I’m not coming back!” and was tired of being overshadowed by the likes of Jack Nicholson and Michelle Pfeiffer). It perhaps didn’t help that Tim Burton himself, seemed to replace him w/ Johnny Depp as his main go-to leading man.

    What I’m trying to say is that since Keaton was no longer going to be Batman (especially after “Batman Forever” proved to be more commercially successful than “Batman Returns”), much of the general public no longer had an extra incentive to want to see him in anything else. It’s kind of like how once for example, Pierce Brosnan stopped being James Bond or Tobey Maguire stopped being Spider-Man (or any other actor who became famous or gained extra notoriety for playing an iconic, larger-than-live action hero on screen), there was perhaps a lesser desire to want to see them do other things.


    • I really believe, that Batman Forever (even though I felt that Val Kilmer did an admirable enough of a job given the circumstances) would’ve had more credibility and weight to it had Keaton returned along w/ Michael Gough and Pat Hingle as Alfred and Gordon respectively. The whole subplot regarding Bruce Wayne trying to show Dick Grayson the consequences of killing out of revenge could easily be interpreted as referring to Keaton’s Batman’s encounter w/ the Joker in the 1989 movie and later in Batman Returns, where Batman’s killing of thugs is more blatant. Batman Forever ironically among the original four films features the most character development for Bruce Wayne. Also, Keaton is actually fairly old enough to plausibly be a father figure to Chris O’Donnell’s Dick Grayson (about 20 years) when compared to Val Kilmer and especially George Clooney.

      Also, Keaton leaving paved the way for Val Kilmer, who by the end of the ’90s, derailed his own career due to being notoriously difficult to work with (he clashed w/ Joel Schumacher a lot while making, Forever). And w/ Kilmer gone, we got George Clooney, who is by far, the worst ever Batman. In fairness, it’s not a guarantee that Keaton’s more shadowy and mysterious Batman could’ve easily fit into the more colorful and flashy world created by Joel Schumacher (especially the one found in Batman & Robin). Of course, Warner Bros. being so insistent on wanting to appeal to a broader demographic (by having presumably darker/deeper scenes in Forever cut out and bringing in hack extraordinaire Akiva Goldsman to “lighten up” the screenplay) after the parental/McDonald’s backlash to Returns was going to be problematic either way.



      Trevor Snyder

      4. Michael Keaton doesn’t star in Batman Forever

      Kind of a cheat here, as this isn’t about a movie the man made, but rather one he didn’t. Still, this might have been a very bad move on Keaton’s part, even if his reasons for skipping out on the flick were valid. I’ve always heard the studio wasn’t willing to pay Keaton what he was asking for, and given that I don’t know what his demands were, I can’t truly say whether it was the studio or Keaton that was being unreasonable. But even still, I’m sure part of Keaton’s decision also had to do with his buddy Tim Burton not returning in the director’s chair. Whatever the case, Keaton leaving was a pretty big blow to the franchise. Batman Forever was not the horrible movie that Batman & Robin would be, and I’m willing to bet that if Keaton had starred in it, fans would have a most positive attitude about it. As for Keaton himself, his early exit from the series seemed to bring an abrupt end to his brief time as a megastar, and he’s never really even come close to getting that status back. I think his highest profile hit since Batman Returns was White Noise, and even that wasn’t that big of a smash.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Now that I think about it some more, I wonder if in a way, people kind of blame Michael in part for the downfall of the Batman film series (w/ it becoming decidedly campier/sillier w/ Joel Schumacher at the helm) by leaving after “Returns” (and thus, refused to put their full support behind is post Batman mainstream projects).


        • I don’t think there was any resentment over Keaton leaving the franchise. I never heard anyone complain about his decision to do so. I have heard several people say how much they respected him for it. Unfortunately, Batman was the engine that powered his career. Without that, he stalled out.


        • I wonder if the same sort of thing is bound to happen to Tobey Maguire w/o the Spider-Man franchise:

          Much has been made of the so-called “Superman curse”: the tragedies of George Reeves’ death, Christopher Reeve’s accident and Dean Cain’s and Brandon James Routh’s careers. But could there be a “Spider-Man curse” as well? The only actor to play a live-action version of Peter Parker on TV, Nicholas Hammond, vanished into obscurity, with his most notable non-Spidey role a gig as Aaron Spelling in the 2005 TV movie Dynasty: The Making of a Guilty Pleasure. And now Tobey Maguire seems to be getting caught in a post-webslinger malaise.

          True, he got a Golden Globe nomination for 2009′s little-seen postwar drama Brothers, but Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby (in which Maguire stars as Nick Carraway opposite pal Leo DiCaprio) has been bumped until next summer—a not-so-great sign. He’s also been cut out of likely Oscar contender Life of Pi, which would’ve reunited him with Ice Storm director Ang Lee (he was replaced in his role as writer Yann Martel by Prometheus‘ Rafe Spall). And his dark suburban comedy The Details has been gathering dust on a shelf since it was filmed three years ago. It’ll finally be released on VOD next month. I got a sneak peek, and I can see why the Weinstein Co. is quietly burying this turkey after spending $8 million to acquire it at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

          Maguire stars as a disgruntled OB/GYN who becomes obsessed with eradicating racoons from his yard and winds up descending into a spiral of online porn, adultery and murder. The naif-like quality that served him so well in early films like Wonder Boys, Pleasantville and The Cider House rules isn’t aging well. Maguire mostly seems like a passive bystander while more colorful performers like Elizabeth Banks (as his unsatisfied wife), Kerry Washington (as his sexy paramour), Ray Liotta (as her jealous husband), Dennis Haysbert (as a critically ill pal) and Laura Linney (as a crazy cat lady) strain to carry the outlandish movie that’s collapsing around them.

          The Details suffers from that age-old dilemma: It doesn’t know the difference between funny strange and funny ha-ha. Written and directed by Mean Creek‘s Jacob Aaron Estes, it’s neither amusing enough to work as a comedy nor affecting enough to work as a drama. One thing’s for sure: It won’t pull Maguire out of his career tailspin.

          One other thing: Watch your back, Andrew Garfield! Are your Spidey senses tingling?

          Can Tobey Maguire’s career be saved, or is it deader than Seabiscuit? Comment!


        • I have been considering Maguire for WTHH. We’ll see how Great Gatsby does. I am running out of Batman actors to showcase. Could be time to do Spider-man. Kirsten Dunst too.


        • Is Kirsten Dunst Getting Her Career Back Thanks To Bachelorette?

          Just as we witnessed last year’s raunchy hit Bridesmaids launch Melissa McCarthy and Rebel Wilson into the mainstream, one of the greatest effects of this year’s comparable dark comedy Bachelorette is that it’s brought Kirsten Dunst back into the collective consciousness. It seems that these all-female, sex-and-party-heavy movies have the dual power to give us new stars and revive the flagging careers of old ones.

          Ironically, just this morning I was wondering about how useful Bachelorette had been for Kirsten, if she had gotten everything she wanted and expected out of it. It was certainly a risky move for her to play Regan, the stone-faced, petty, bulimic antiheroine of this tale of female jealousy. But part of her appeal came from the fact that when we last saw her, she was on the path to becoming America’s Sweetheart. She’d charmed in Wimbledon, originated the Manic Pixie Dream Girl role in Elizabethtown, and was a competent Mary Jane Watson in the Spider-Man movies. Then she sort of dropped out of sight.

          I’d say that that time out of the spotlight led her to make much smarter moves when she returned—like owning the really dark roles. And now, she’s bagged herself a more somber, adult thriller/period piece combo: The Two Faces of January, a dramatic tale of lust and deceit set in the 1960s. Better for me to give you the synopsis:


        • How divas were lost in Hollywood history:

          What ever happened to Kirsten Dunst? The American actress’s recent screen career underlines how difficult it is to be a movie star in a digital world.

          Two of her most recent films, the raucous comedy-drama Bachelorette and Lars von Trier’s apocalyptic Melancholia were released first on VOD (video-on-demand) in the US. It is fitting, although not very flattering to her, that Bachelorette should have become a No. 1 hit on iTunes at just the time that Robert Aldrich’s caustic thriller What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? (1962) is being revived. (Marking its 50th anniversary, Aldrich’s classic is being shown in a restored print at the London Film Festival this month.)

          “Women old enough to know better act like horny sailors on leave, absorb mass quantities of alcohol and drugs, and generally behave horribly,” complained USA Today about Bachelorette. The more serious problem for Dunst, though, is that when your movies are watched first on laptops and TVs rather than in cinemas, your mystique is bound to be compromised.

          No one is suggesting that Dunst is yet in the same doldrums as Baby Jane Hudson, the one-time child-star turned hectoring harridan, who torments her sister in What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? Nonetheless, Dunst’s case illustrates how completely Hollywood has been transformed since the heyday of female stars like Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich, Gloria Swanson and Greta Garbo. These actresses may not always have controlled their careers but they were ferociously protective of their screen image.

          Dietrich, for example, was (as her New York Times obituary made clear) “a thorough professional and perfectionist, expert in make-up, lighting, clothes and film editing.” Having been tutored by Josef von Sternberg, who discovered her and directed her in films from The Blue Angel to The Scarlet Empress, she knew exactly how to project glamour on screen.

          Garbo, meanwhile, had her own cinematographer, William H. Daniels, who used filters and side lighting to make her close-ups as striking as possible. Her hermit-like existence once her Hollywood career was over helped her retain an air of mystery.

          As for Joan Crawford, she grew up dirt poor but, once she became a star, went to extraordinary lengths to live up to her fans’ expectations. In an interview with the American writer Studs Terkel, she revealed that on a typical publicity tour, she changed costumes five times a day and traveled with 36 matching bags and gloves.

          “It gives you a responsibility to be to them [the fans] whatever they want you to be,” she told Terkel in his book American Dreams: Lost and Found. “It’s quite a responsibility, dear friend. You get on your mettle. You get a little taller, you stand on your toes.”

          It’s easy to mock the vanity of Hollywood’s aging divas. As What Ever Happened To Baby Jane and Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard make very evident, the one-time stars led wretched lives, forever peering back into their pasts. Norma Desmond, the forgotten star played by Gloria Swanson, isn’t exactly a role model to emulate. Nonetheless, as she so famously put it as she remembered the silent era: “We didn’t need dialogue. We had faces.”

          The problem for Dunst’s generation is that these stars don’t have “faces.” If their movies are being watched on laptops and TVs rather than the big screen, they become just yet more talking heads. When sadistic celebrity gossip sites publish pictures of them getting drunk or taking their garbage out, fans are reminded very forcefully of how earthbound they now are.

          The fans have long had a sneaking interest in the dark side of the industry. From the Fatty Arbuckle controversy in the early 1920s (when the popular comedian was charged with murdering the actress Virginia Rappé) to the deaths, suicides and illicit affairs covered in scandal sheets like Confidential (“uncensored and off the record”), the private lives of the stars have always been pored over in exhaustive detail. The popularity of Kenneth Anger’s muckraking Hollywood Babylon books underlined the fans’ interest in prurient yarns about the misbehavior of their idols. However, countering this worm’s eye view of the business were the films the stars actually made. Whatever allegations Anger made about Crawford’s misdeeds and dubious career choices in her early years, we could see her up on screen in Grand Hotel or Mildred Pierce. Even late in her career, in a film as curdled and vicious as Baby Jane, she retained the glamour and arrogance of a real movie star. With a contemporary tabloid idol like Lindsay Lohan, the balance isn’t the same at all. She hasn’t made enough movies to distract from the constant stream of unflattering stories about her private life.

          It’s obvious that many contemporary actresses yearn for the glamour they associate with an older Hollywood. That’s why so many are playing stars from that era. Lohan’s new film Liz & Dick, in which she stars as Elizabeth Taylor opposite Grant Bowler’s Richard Burton, premieres on American television next month. Meanwhile, Nicole Kidman recently started shooting Grace of Monaco, a biopic in which she stars as Grace Kelly. Last year, we had Michelle Williams’ virtuoso turn as Marilyn Monroe in the British-made My Week With Marilyn. Sienna Miller is shortly to be seen as Tippi Hedren in The Girl and Scarlett Johansson is playing Janet Leigh in the new film Hitchcock.

          What is equally clear is that these contemporary stars will struggle to emulate the power and charisma of Davis, Crawford, Monroe, Kelly, Hedren et al. on screen. This isn’t to do with their ability. They are mostly fine actresses. Their problem is that the machine that helped create the older stars is broken. Keira Knightley is fortunate in having a cinematographer (in Seamus McGarvey) she works with regularly both on films like Anna Karenina and on her Chanel ads. Nonetheless, the armies of publicists, make-up artists and technicians who helped mold stars like Davis and Crawford have long since disbanded. Notions of what constitutes glamour have changed too. Outside pop promos and advertisements, the highly stylized lighting, camerawork and make-up that characterized Dietrich’s collaborations with von Sternberg would seem jarring and odd to audiences today. The roles that stars are taking has changed too. After all, portraying a coke-snorting, hard-drinking party girl (as Dunst does in Bachelorette) isn’t quite the same as playing Queen Christina. Greta Garbo’s movies didn’t premiere on VOD – and she never had to share the screen with male strippers either.


        • What happened to Kirsten Dunst?

          She has not starred in a movie for a while. Is she going to become the next Heather Graham?


        • The Resurrection of Kirsten Dunst:

          She’s been the wunderkind, the girl next door, the “It” girl, and the first in the recent string of doe-eyed beauties pegged with the label “Manic Pixie Dream Girl.” The most rewarding category Kirsten Dunst has been thrust into is perhaps the most recent: the comeback.

          With the theatrical release of the comedy “Bachelorette” this weekend, Dunst, 30, has found herself back atop the list of bankable starlets after a few years filled with questionable film choices and a stint in rehab.

          We can track the beginning of her fall from grace around the time of the “Spider-Man 3″ release in 2007. For the final film starring Tobey Maguire as Spidey and Dunst as Mary Jane Watson, you could see the toll three blockbuster installments of the franchise in five years had done to both leads. The two were rather lackluster in their press commitments for the film, though Dunst went on record that she’d do a fourth if director Sam Raimi and Maguire returned. As it happened, Sony pressed pause on the franchise for five years and recently relaunched it as “The Amazing Spider-Man” with a younger cast (Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone).

          News broke in February 2008 that Dunst had checked into the Cirque Lodge Treatment Center in Utah, and though she and her team said it was because of depression, many of the celeb mags reported that Dunst was partying hard. Things didn’t get any better later in the year when her next big movie, “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People” with Simon Pegg, opened in the States with lackluster earnings and critical reception. At the end, the film grossed $2.8 million (the budget was $28 million) with a deflating 37% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

          After leaving rehab in late March, Dunst came out revived but perhaps realizing she was at a crossroads in her career.

          Before “Spider-Man 3,” Dunst had her pick of any tween comedy or drama that was hot at a studio. Whether it was a bubble-gum cheerleader (“Bring It On”), a troubled high schooler (“Crazy/Beautiful”) or an iconic queen with a penchant for cake (“Marie Antoinette”), her good looks and talents would plug any plot hole or non-existent storyline. However, closing in on 30 usually is when the former child star gets the wake-up call that they can’t be young forever. “Who you are at 25 and who you are at 29 is a very different thing. For me, it feels like a 20-year age gap,” she told British Elle in 2011.

          Dunst kicked off her reinvention by co-starring with Ryan Gosling in the drama “All Good Things,” which is based on an unsolved murder. Set in the 1980s on the posh Upper East Side of New York City, the story found a small audience through VOD and hardly made a peep in theaters. However, for Dunst it wasn’t about making “Spider-Man”-like money, as she told Harper’s Bazaar in 2008. “I remember reading an article about Jodie Foster, that at one point she wanted to give up acting and go be a ski bum, and then she did ‘The Accused’ and it reignited her passion for what she does again,” Dunst says. “‘All Good Things’ was a little bit like that for me. After you go through a difficult time, you don’t care anymore. You’re so much more free. You’re not as scared, and you’re not as dependent on what other people think of you”

          But then Dunst got the call she needed. Danish film-making legend Lars von Trier wanted Dunst for the lead in his pre-apocalyptic drama “Melancholia.” After losing Penelope Cruz for the role, von Trier turned to his fellow directing colleagues like Paul Thomas Anderson for casting advice, and Dunst received glowing remarks. She took on the role of Justine, a woman crippled with depression who, along with her sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg), is waiting to see if the aptly named planet Melancholia will smash into Earth and obliterate them all.

          Dunst won the Best Actress Award at Cannes 2012 for her performance, and the film is one of von Trier’s highest grossing films in America, as well as a big hit on VOD.

          Now Dunst is showing her comedic chops as the perfectionist ice queen Regan in “Bachelorette.” Based on the stage play by writer/director Leslye Headland and produced by Adam McKay and Will Ferrell, the comedy was the talk of this year’s Sundance Film Festival where you either heard people call it “the raunchy ‘Bridesmaids’” or “the girls’ version of ‘The Hangover.’” Like “Melancholia,” the film has been available on demand weeks before its theatrical release; it’s also the first pre-theatrical release to hit #1 on iTunes. Dunst’s performance has not gone unnoticed either; as The Hollywood Reporter noted, the Regan character “is embodied to cool perfection and with precision timing by Dunst.”

          Up next you’ll find Dunst in the much anticipated adaption of the Beat novel “On The Road,” starring Kristen Stewart. Her next film “The Bling Ring” with Emma Watson is already in the can; her good friend Sofia Coppola (“The Virgin Suicides,” “Marie Antoinette”) wrote and directs this crime drama co-starring Emma Watson about a group of teens who rob celebrity homes.

          There’s nothing Hollywood loves more than a comeback story, and Kirsten Dunst has a good one. It’s going to be fun to watch where it goes from here.


        • Kirsten Dunst stars in ‘Upside Down’:

          Q: You’ve made a lot of interesting career choices lately with roles in offbeat films like “Melancholia,” “On the Road” and now this. Do you feel you’ve gravitated towards the unusual?

          Dunst: For me, I gravitate towards the director. Always. Usually, I’d rather do a script that I find—and I’m not talking about this film, but in general—that maybe is not amazing, but I’d rather work with a great director than on something that has an amazing script and a director who I think is mediocre. That’s because I think it’s really all up to the director (to make a good film). They’re the orchestrators of the entire process. With Juan (Solanas), he is such a visionary director and I loved his short films so much, I knew the story would be important but the visuals also would be so magnificent. It was a concept that I’ve never heard of before. It was incredible.


        • The George Lazenby of Superman. Love it.


        • Five Once-Promising Actors and the Franchises That Ruined Them:

          4. Tobey Maguire

          “Anchoring the movie is Mr. Maguire’s sober, wide-eyed Homer, a wounded, moon-faced innocent who, in leaving the institution that nurtured him, blindly follows his heart and finds fulfillment working outdoors.” — Stephen Holden, reviewing The Cider House Rules

          The late ’90s were banner years for Tobey Maguire. Considered a talented rising star at the time, he had a string of good roles in good movies with The Ice Storm, Pleasantville, The Cider House Rules, and Wonder Boys. (He was so good that people mostly let him and Leonardo DiCaprio slide on that whole “Pussy Posse” thing, which in hindsight maybe we as a culture should have tried to come down on a bit harder.) He seemed sweet, loveable, and nearly the epitome of the boy next door. Hey! That sounds like the perfect guy to take on the role of Spider-Man, and he was, for a while. His Spidey was kindhearted and noble, and you wanted to give him a hug every time he had to put duty before making out with Mary Jane.

          And then the disastrous Spider-Man 3 came out, and all you could see was douchiness. It was intentional, of course — that’s what the story called for, even though it still wasn’t successful. But suddenly all you could see was his emo hair and his petulant frown and think, wait, wasn’t that guy once in a group called the Pussy Posse? That’s the problem with iconic roles: when they go sour, the stigma tends to stick with you. Maguire does have a shot at redemption with The Great Gatsby, but we’ll have to wait and see.


        • 12 Actors Whose Careers Were Destroyed By A Single Movie:

          7. Brandon Routh – Superman Returns

          The Actor: Like Henry Cavill, Brandon Routh looks like the ideal Superman. All chiseled features and rippling muscles, Superman Returns should have been the breakout role for Routh. With no previous jaw-dropping performances to note, it was clearly his looks that bagged him the role.

          The Film: I never understood the hate leveled towards Superman Returns. It may not have been the best superhero film of Bryan Singer’s career, but there was a reverence for the original films and no one can deny the plane scene isn’t flat out awesome. But as with the likes of The Phantom Menace, which likewise got good reviews on release, fan-boy disappointment has colored the film’s long lasting reputation.

          What Happened Next: The film admittedly performed poorly at the box office, failing to keep afloat in the middle the blockbuster saturated summer of 2006, but it’s the audience distaste that really hurt Routh. Despite any issues with the film coming from Singer’s directing, he’s the scapegoat used whenever the film’s quality is raised. He managed a large cameo in Chuck and popped up in Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, but in both cases he was there as ‘the guy who was an OK Superman once’. Other than those two projects, everything else has been small roles, often in straight-to-DVD movies or deleted before the film hit cinemas.


        • I think another thing that really hurt Brandon Routh besides his apparent lack of range (compounded by the feeling that Routh was basically hired to pretty much play Christopher Reeve playing Superman) and the lukewarm response of “Superman Returns” (which ultimately failed to launch a franchise around Routh hence a reboot w/ Henry Cavill) is his apparent affinity for playing gay characters. I’m not necessarily accusing Mr. Routh himself of being gay (a la the never ending rumors about John Travolta for instance), but doing that sort of thing over and over again can really hinder your marketability to mainstream audience:

          Looking at Routh’s filmography, he has played a gay man on the TV shows “Cold Case”, “Will & Grace”, and “Partners” and in the movie “Zack & Miri Make a Porno”:


        • Different Roles Aren’t Always Better: 15 Failed Attempts To Overcome Typecasting:

          It’s hard to call Tobey Maguire’s performance as a traumatized veteran in Brothers a total failure. The role would win Maguire a Golden Globe nomination and strong reviews. Which is why one would think a film like Brothers would have performed better critically and financially. As is, the melodrama stands at a mere 61% on Rotten Tomatoes and made a little over $28 million domestically. Within the framework of an uneven film, Maguire’s performance sadly slipped through the cracks.


        • Hollywood’s Misconceived Movie Star Mash-Up: 15 High Concept Casts That Didn’t Work:

          Jim Sheridan’s Brothers paired Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire in the roles they were born to play. Um, that is, brothers (we try not to be too obvious). It’s hard to get over how eerily similar the duo’s features are, so the chance to see the brooding actors played against each other in a familial drama should have been a slam dunk. Though the film turned a profit, critics were decidedly cool on the project—the only aspect met with universal praise was Maguire’s performance, which earned him a Golden Globe nod.


        • Tobey Maguire: 5 Awesome Performances And 5 That Sucked:

          With The Great Gatsby heading into UK cinemas this weekend, on the back of some mixed reviews, the critical reception – including my own review from the Cannes film festival – has pointed to Tobey Maguire as one of the weak points of Luhrmann’s grand romantic tragedy.

          Unfortunately for Maguire, this is not the first time he has faced criticism, and for all of his heralded performances, there have been those which have attracted negative press. He has certainly found it more difficult recently to find his niche, after a very strong start (and mostly in the wake of Spider-Man 3), but there is no doubting his potential to offer more great performances when given the right roles.

          So, to celebrate the release of The Great Gatsby this week, as well as the curio that is Tobey Maguire, we’ve put together his finest performances, as well as his worst for your consideration.


        • As I think I said earlier, it must of been a bit of a blow to Michael’s ego when “Batman Forever” turned out to be a bigger box office success than “Batman Returns”, which gave the indication that the series could survive (of course, this was before we got to “Batman & Robin” two years later) w/o him.


        • Strictly my impression of the guy: I doubt he gave a damn.


      • What if Tim Burton directed the third ‘Batman’ film?

        After the first “Batman” film became a pop culture touchstone, Warner Bros. handed the keys of the franchise over completely to Tim Burton who followed up with a much darker “Batman Returns” in 1992. That film featured stunning production design and an awards worthy Michelle Pfeiffer as the best Catwoman ever (don’t even try to argue anyone else). Unfortunately, Burton went overboard in his vision of the classic Batman villain the Penguin. Danny DeVito was great casting, but the character was plain gross, scared children and dragged the entire film down whenever he appeared on screen. Happily, “Returns” was still a hit, but Warner Bros. was so concerned about the reaction that they insisted the third film be lighter and more commercially friendly (if not kid friendly). That meant Burton was out and he was relegated to an “executive producer” title as he moved on to other projects. Eventually Michael Keaton left the third film as well after director Joel Schumacher came on board and the role was recast with…blonde Val Kilmer. But, what if Warner Bros. and Burton came to an agreement on the proper tone for the third picture? History would have been much different as we ask:

        What if Tim Burton directed the third ‘Batman’ film?

        Three things that might not have happened:

        1. Joel Schumacher directs any Batman movie. Let’s take a step back. In 1993, when Schumacher was hired, his resume and reputation was a lot better than it was before both “Batman Forever” and “Batman and Robin.” But, his choices after “Batman and Robin” started to show his true colors. “8 MM,” “Flawless,” “Bad Company” and “The Number 23” were all down the road. Granted, if Schumacher hadn’t gotten a crack at “Forever” he still might have helmed “A Time To Kill” (arguably his “best” film), but by the time Batman would have rebooted? Say, 2002 or 2004? The cat would have been out of the bag and no studio would let him near a franchise as valuable as this one.

        2. Tim Burton directs “Mars Attacks!” If Warner Bros. decision to bring him back snapped Burton into realizing his bigger budget films should be a tad less “out there,” he might have been convinced not to make “Mars.” The film had been in development for a number of years with an insane initial budget (a reported $260 million). If Burton made a third “Batman” film, a process which would keep him busy for another two to three years, “Mars Attacks” would have been either been put in turnaround or given to a different director. Considering it was always a Burton pet project to begin with another director is out of the question. Our guess it goes into turnaround, Disney picks it up for producer Jerry Bruckheimer and, well, you can figure out the rest…

        3. Christopher Nolan directs “Batman Begins.” Nolan still has his breakthrough with “Memento” and makes his Warner Bros. connection helming “Insomnia,” but if Burton sticks with “Batman” the fourth Schumacher film would have never happened. Our guess is this “Batman” cinematic world keeps going on for at least five or six films. Jumping on that train would not have appealed to Nolan. Instead, the Broccoli’s take a chance and let him help reboot another franchise with a little picture titled “Casino Royale” in 2006.

        Three things we predict would have happened:

        1. Michael Keaton’s career as an A-list movie star would have lasted much longer. If Burton returned for a third “Batman” so would Keaton. That means he likely wouldn’t have had time for the bombs “The Paper” and “Mutiplicity” (yes, “My Life” probably still would have happened). It also means he could have continued with a fourth “Batman” film and wouldn’t have been, um, desperate to take “Desperate Measures” (another bomb). Keaton’s quirky style probably would have still pushed him to supporting roles, but not as quickly as it happened in the late ’90s after he said goodbye to The Dark Knight.

        2. The long rumored ‘Catwoman’ (Michelle Pfeiffer) spin-off movie would actually have happened. If Burton was back in the fold there was no way a solo “Catwoman” movie would have died in development. “Catwoman” would have hit theaters in 1996, a year after “Batman 3.” It isn’t a smash on the level of the “Batman” films, but it’s still makes back to back blockbusters for Pfeiffer after “Dangerous Minds” the year before. It also means she has to turn down “Up Close & Personal” (whew) and extends her A-list status to the end of the Century. Sadly, we can’t predict a reboot featuring Halle Berry doesn’t end up happening with the following decade (revisionist history isn’t always that rosy).

        3. A new “Superman” film would have hit theaters by the year 2000. Burton was supposed to direct Kevin Smith’s “Superman Lives” script in 1998. That didn’t happen for numerous reasons, but if Burton was back in the fold for “Batman 3” it would have opened the door for another director to come on board Smith’s script. Perhaps (gasp) Joel Schumacher? In any event, “Superman Lives” mostly died because Burton wanted to change so much of the script Warner Bros. had signed off on. Another director, such as Schumacher, may have just gone with the flow. Especially with hand-on producer Jon Peters fiddling with the project. Granted, “Superman Lives” may have made a horrible movie, but it would have gotten the Man of Steel back in theaters much sooner than Bryan Singer’s 2007 “Superman Returns.”

        Did history work out for the best?
        Aside from the potential train wreck of a “Superman Lives” movie and missing out on Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy, absolutely not. You can argue not one of the major players in “Batman Returns” benefited from Burton not coming back for the third film. Burton himself had the successful “Sleepy Hollow,” but hasn’t made a good movie outside of the stop-motion animated “Corpse Bride” in 2006. Michael Keaton career tanked after he followed Burton out the door, Michelle Pfeiffer had two real hits (“Dangerous Minds,” “What Lies Beneath”) over 15 years until a supporting role in 2007’s hit “Hairspray” and you could argue Joel Schumacher dug his own grave following studio guidelines with “Batman Forever” and the insanely horrible “Batman and Robin.” So, yes, fans lost out as well. Plus, George Clooney would have also skipped over “Batman and Robin” (the worst decision of his illustrious career). Burton’s third “Batman” movie may not have been as blatantly commercial as what Schumacher delivered, but at least it would have had a vision behind it. The only person you can say truly benefited from Burton leaving the franchise was Seal. He had the biggest hit of his career with “Kiss From A Rose” off the “Forever” soundtrack. If Burton was on board? Probably wouldn’t have even made the album.



      • What if Tim Burton returned to direct a third ‘Batman’ film?

        Three things we predict would have happened:

        1. Michael Keaton’s career as an A-list movie star would have lasted much longer. If Burton returned for a third “Batman” so would Keaton. That means he likely wouldn’t have had time for the bombs “The Paper” and “Mutiplicity” (yes, “My Life” probably still would have happened). It also means he could have continued with a fourth “Batman” film and wouldn’t have been, um, desperate to take “Desperate Measures” (another bomb). Keaton’s quirky style probably would have still pushed him to supporting roles, but not as quickly as it happened in the late ’90s after he said goodbye to The Dark Knight.

        Did history work out for the best?

        Aside from the potential train wreck of a “Superman Lives” movie and missing out on Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy, absolutely not. You can argue not one of the major players in “Batman Returns” benefited from Burton not coming back for the third film. Burton himself had the successful “Sleepy Hollow,” but hasn’t made a good movie outside of the stop-motion animated “Corpse Bride” in 2006. Michael Keaton career tanked after he followed Burton out the door, Michelle Pfeiffer had two real hits (“Dangerous Minds,” “What Lies Beneath”) over 15 years until a supporting role in 2007’s hit “Hairspray” and you could argue Joel Schumacher dug his own grave following studio guidelines with “Batman Forever” and the insanely horrible “Batman and Robin.” So, yes, fans lost out as well. Plus, George Clooney would have also skipped over “Batman and Robin” (the worst decision of his illustrious career). Burton’s third “Batman” movie may not have been as blatantly commercial as what Schumacher delivered, but at least it would have had a vision behind it. The only person you can say truly benefited from Burton leaving the franchise was Seal. He had the biggest hit of his career with “Kiss From A Rose” off the “Forever” soundtrack. If Burton was on board? Probably wouldn’t have even made the album.


      • Do you think Batman Forever would have been better if Keaton had returned?


    • Perhaps the problem w/ Michael Keaton landing the Batman role is that by that point, he had automatically or officially reached what could be considered the natural peak in his career. Michael Keaton was arguably an exception to having an already well established actor or considerable household name play a comic book superhero (when compared to say, Christopher Reeve as Superman, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man and so forth). Of of course, it’s going to be very hard to get that type of visibility or notoriety again or elsewhere.

      What didn’t help was that the Batman brand if you want to call it that, had been severely diluted by the time it was officially announced that George Clooney was going to take over for Val Kilmer in the fourth Batman movie (“Batman & Robin”). It’s not really Michael’s fault in that regard, but what I’m saying that this seemed to officially signify that the Batman role didn’t really matter as much as say whom was going to play the villains. It isn’t like James Bond or Doctor Who, in which we’ve come to expect the leading actor to be changed every few years. I mean, long after he last played Superman in 1987, many people still associated Christopher Reeve as the definitive Superman actor. Even “Superman Returns” reconfirmed this since Bryan Singer, the director seemed to try his hardest to make a homage to the 1978 Superman movie.


  158. I’ve been listening to this commentary podcast for “Batman Returns” and at about the 0:47:45 mark, Michael Keaton’s performance is criticized. Basically, Michael seems really understated (but not in a good way) and lost.

    It’s highlighted that he really doesn’t like to do sequels (which probably in part, explains why he didn’t come back for “Batman Forever”). He apparently has an idea that when you play in another movie, even if it’s the same role/character, you’re not supposed to play it the same way:


    • Superman 4 Commentary Podcast:

      At roughly the 0:38.35, Michael Keaton’s approach towards playing Batman in “Batman Returns” is once again criticized. Basically, this relates to Christopher Reeve gaining significant creative control in “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace”, which lead to the more (then relevant) political approach involving nuclear weapons.


      • I meant to type “at the 0:38:35 mark”. Anyway, to add to the point regarding Michael Keaton’s approach towards Batman, Keaton despite only playing Batman just once prior, would apparently, during the making of “Batman Returns”, insist that loads of dialogue for Batman be cut out because he figured that Batman (since he mistakenly felt that he understood the Batman character well enough by that point to dictate what Batman should say in the first place) shouldn’t be saying this or that. As I said prior, Michael Keaton was apparently reluctant to play Batman again after the 1989 movie because he was worried that he wouldn’t be able to play Batman a different way (since “every movie regardless of it being a sequel is supposed to be different”).


    • From my understanding, apparently Michael Keaton didn’t want to return to the Batman franchise after “Returns”, but didn’t say no to the prospect of doing another sequel either. So he requested $15 million to return and the studio balked at that amount. Either way, Keaton would get what he wanted.

      If that’s truly the case, then can’t believe that Michael when he first signed up to play Batman back in 1988-89, didn’t seem to fully realize that Batman is a character much like say Superman (or any other comic book superhero) or James Bond, that was ready made to be featured in a series of films. How ignorant must you be to not understand that going in!? And I’m pretty sure that Michael would’ve made a ton of money off of the franchise (like say the merchandise for example) anyway.

      The whole thing really made him look bad in my book because he came across as a pushy, prima donna type actor. Plus, Michael sort of inadvertently helped screw up the franchise from a continuity stand-point (w/ the transition from Tim Burton to Joel Schumacher) and set the stage for an even more problematic Val Kilmer as the new star.


      • In ’89 Keaton did a great interview in Premiere magazine. I wish I still had my copy. But one of the pull quotes from the article was that he didn’t want to be some middle-aged guy playing Batman at mall appearances. He cracked a few jokes about himself as a sad, washed-up Adam West type. This was before the first movie ever came out. So I don’t think he ever planned to make a ton of Batman movies.

        I don’t fault him for it at all. I think he was taking it on a movie by movie basis. He did the first two because the money was good and he liked collaborating with Burton. With Burton out of the picture, he was going to need some serious incentive to make another one. The script for Batman Forever sucked and I credit Keaton for realizing that. He wanted to push the series one way, but he recognized the studio and director were taking it in the opposite direction. So why not throw out a ridiculous figure?

        I don’t consider Keaton to be pushy or a prima donna. But he has no problem walking away from the negotiating table if a project doesn’t suit him. Look at Lost. I’m sure he would have loved to have been associated with Lost. But he made it clear up front that he wasn’t up for a full-time TV gig. So when that became the plan, he bailed. Seems reasonable to me.

        I don’t know. I’ve never met the man. But in interviews, he just seems like the coolest, most down-to-earth guy in movies.


        • Another problem was that around the time that Michael Keaton first played Batman, superhero movies (and the superhero movie genre itself) where pretty much still in the embryonic stages. During much of the ’80s and ’90s, all that we really had were the Superman films w/ Christopher Reeve and the Batman films from Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher.

          I think in general, what really did the original Batman film series in were egos. I know that this sounds like I’m bashing Michael Keaton (and maybe to a certain extent I am), but he isn’t alone. There was Tim Burton only agreeing to return (no pun intended) for a second Batman film if he was given full creative control (and we all know how well that turned out).

          There was Warner Bros. (who was scared about more lost sponsorships (and toy sales) after all of the trouble that “Batman Returns” got them in w/ parents and McDonald’s) frequent meddling once Joel Schumacher took over. The original cut of “Batman Forever” was apparently a lot darker and deeper. There was Val Kilmer allegedly “being Val Kilmer” on the set of “Forever”, which pretty much guaranteed that he wouldn’t come back for a second movie. There was George Clooney saying in interviews for “Batman & Robin” that he doesn’t understand why Bruce Wayne is still bummed out over his parents’ deaths. And I can go on and on (we all know how it ended w/ “Batman & Robin”).

          My point, is that one of the biggest (if not thee biggest) or glaring problem w/ the 1989-97 Batman film series is that there wasn’t a solid and consistent tone, feel and look going from movie to movie. They pretty much felt rather self-contained and in their own universes.


      • We’ll probably never know for sure why Michael didn’t want to play Batman anymore after two movies (Joel Schumacher suggested publicly that Michael was demanding too much money). I’ve also heard theories that he didn’t want to do a third one w/o Tim Burton and didn’t like what Joel Schumacher had in store for what was to become “Batman Forever”. Also, Michael (as I think I’ve said before) apparently wasn’t really down w/ sequels to begin with because he has this theory that if you’re playing a character, even if it’s the same one for said sequel, you have to play it differently. More to the point, Michael supposedly was fed up w/ having to wear the cumbersome Batsuit (kind of like Peter Weller when he played RoboCop for the first two movies). Finally, Michael presumably figured that what point was it to keep playing Batman when he was going to be shortchanged in favor of the villains again. Regardless, I think or want to believe that at the end of the day, Michael and to a certain extent Val Kilmer, perhaps made the mistaken in acting or approaching matters as if they were bigger or better than the Batman character.


        • I think we know the basics of it. Everyone involved seems to agree that Keaton wasn’t all that interested in a Batman movie without his pal, Burton. He didn’t like the script. He didn’t see eye to eye with Schumacher. He asked for an insane amount of money because he didn’t really want to do it.

          I don’t see that as thinking he’s bigger than Batman. I just see it as negotiating yourself out of a job you didn’t want. I think if Keaton had his way, we’d have gotten a Batman movie a lot more like the Nolan films than the Schumacher movies. And that would have been a good thing.


        • I find it a bit ironic that if Keaton wouldn’t want to do another Batman film w/o Tim Burton (which is otherwise understandable, since Burton was his biggest advocate, when just about everybody else lost their minds when it was first announced that Michael Keaton was going to play Batman), since his two Batman films under Burton had Keaton play second (and third in “Batman Returns”) fiddle to the Joker, Penguin and Catwoman. I think this is because in all honestly, I really believe that Tim Burton felt that Batman was the least interesting character in his own movies. He’s more intrigued by the utterly grotesque and fantastical elements that the villains provide.

          Say what you will about Joel Schumacher’s approach to his Batman films, but at least “Batman Forever” in my estimation, did a better job handling Bruce Wayne and Batman’s psychology the prior to films (especially “Returns”).


        • Why Michael Keaton Turned Down An Insane Amount Of Money For Batman 3:

          Even though his 75th anniversary is winding down, Batman is still a hot topic around the comic book community and movie fans, especially regarding Ben Affleck donning the cape and cowl for Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016. Of course, Affleck isn’t the first person to play Batman in live-action. Michael Keaton is currently doing press for his film Birdman, and has been answering a fair amount of questions about his time playing Gotham’s Dark Knight in Batman and Batman Returns. However, although he had a fun time doing those two flicks, it wasn’t enough to make this Batman return a third time.

          Keaton told CBS Sunday Morning that despite being offered $15 million to do Batman 3, he turned it down for one simple reason: it “sucked.” When asked to elaborate, he stated, “Yeah, it just was awful!” Keaton also pointed out that Affleck isn’t the only actor who’s faced fan outcry from being cast as the Caped Crusader. He compared the petitions that people sent to Warner Bros. to “villagers with torches, coming to get me!”

          As we all know, Val Kilmer succeeded Keaton on Batman Forever, but presumably Keaton got a look at the script when production first started. Clearly he didn’t like what he read. Although the third installment doesn’t rank nearly as low critically as its sequel Batman and Robin, Forever had its fair share of issues, primarily due to the creative overhaul. Although Batman Returns was critically and financially successful, Warner Bros. felt that it didn’t earn quite as much money as it should have, which they attributed to its dark tone. For the third film, they opted for a “lighter” approach and asked Tim Burton to stay on only as a producer so that Joel Schumacher could direct. The rest is history. Forever had neon colors, a Batmobile that looked like it was ripped out of a toy commercial, a Robin in his early 20s, a Harvey Dent that had inexplicably changed skin color, and Jim Carrey’s wacky Riddler… okay, that last one did work in its own way.

          It was probably a good idea that Michael Keaton jumped ship when he did. If he had stayed on for a third film, they might have also contracted him for a fourth Batman film. Can you imagine it? Michael Keaton in Batman & Robin? Granted, his performance would have been significantly better than George Clooney’s, but even that wouldn’t have saved that 1997 train wreck. There is probably a parallel universe out there where Tim Burton and Michael Keaton stayed on for Batman 3, and the audience got a tonally worthy successor to the previous films. Maybe Billy Dee Williams even got to play Two-Face!


        • Why Tim Burton’s Batman 3 Never Happened:

          Despite directing the still beloved Batman and Batman Returns, Tim Burton (and Michael Keaton) did not return for Batman 3. Here’s why…

          Nowadays with a half dozen cape-and-cowl movies being released each year, it’s easy to take for granted what filmmakers like Richard Donner and Tim Burton did for the superhero genre. Prior to their decade-apart DC superhero epics, the form was largely viewed by the mainstream as stuff meant to distract the little ones and shut-ins. This seemed especially true for Batman.

          But if Donner made people believe a man could fly, Burton made them believe he could also be psychotic enough to dress up like a bat and beat up crazed clowns running around the streets. Batman was more than a hit movie in 1989; it was a pop culture phenomenon that could be felt on every T-shirt, poster, and trading card being hawked that summer. As the film that buried the Adam West image of the Caped Crusader, Batman proved to a global audience that the story of Bruce Wayne could be one filled with brooding trauma and fanciful daydreams that crept into our nightmares. It out-grossed Ghostbusters II and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade that summer, and went on to be the highest grossing film of all-time up to that point with over $400 million worldwide.

          It is no surprise then that Warner Bros. fast-tracked a sequel (putting Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian on permanent vacation), and the dream team of Tim Burton and Michael Keaton were back for more with 1992’s Batman Returns. That movie had a saturating force in pop culture as well, appearing on lunchboxes, backpacks, Diet Coke commercials, and, of course, McDonald’s Happy Meals. It also grossed an undeniably profitable $266 million in worldwide box office receipts. Nevertheless, the hue of Batman’s signal in the sky experienced substantial and immediate changes.

          Within the relatively short span of three years, which marked the distance between Batman Returns and Batman Forever, the series not only underwent a facelift, but had a full-on reboot before the word even existed in Hollywood lexicon. Michael Keaton became Val Kilmer, the Art Deco hellscape that was Anton Furst and Bo Welch’s Gotham City became an Andy Warhol inspired Las Vegas party on steroids, and Tim Burton’s tearful angst for the mythology’s rotating cast of freaks turned into Joel Schumacher‘s “toyetic” Happy Meal generator.

          In fact, if it weren’t for the inclusions of Michael Gough as Alfred Pennyworth and Pat Hingle as the perpetually underused Commissioner Gordon, there would be nothing to connect Batman Forever with the two films that came before it. And that is exactly the way Warner Bros. wanted it.

          Tim Burton’s Batman 3 never happened because of the reaction to Batman Returns, which was swift and brutal throughout the press.

          The screenwriter of Batman Returns, Daniel Waters said he was aware of the potential backlash immediately. As a subversive voice who made his bones on the cult classic dark comedy about teen murder and suicide, Heathers, Waters was one of the driving forces that turned the sequel into a near fable about the sameness of freaks, be they cats or bats. And when recalling the first time he saw the movie with an average audience (for the 2005 documentary Shadow of the Bat – Part 4: Dark Side of the Knight), Waters said, “It’s great. The lights are coming up after Batman Returns, and it’s like kids crying, people acting like they’ve been punched in the stomach, and like they’ve been mugged. Part of me relished that reaction, and part of me to this day is like, ‘Oops.’”

          For the same documentary, director Burton also seemed bemused and baffled by the mixed reactions 13 years later. Says Burton, “One person would come in and go, ‘This is so much lighter than the first movie.’ And then the next person would come in and go, ‘Oh, this is so much darker than the first movie.’ And it’s like, light and dark are opposites! But it was 50 percent passionately one way and 50 percent the other.”

          The most infamous fallout from this bitter buzz came on the merchandizing side of Batman Returns, which like the box office took a noticeable hit. But the financials were the least of it when the PR for WB’s bat-shaped golden calf became factored in. And it started with those damn Happy Meals.

          Batman Returns opened on June 19, 1992 and before the Fourth of July weekend, The Los Angeles Times was famously publishing angry letters over the content of the film and its connection to McDonald’s. One angry letter dated June 27, 1992 said, “Violence-loving adults may enjoy this film. But why on Earth is McDonald’s pushing this exploitative movie through the sales of its so-called ‘Happy Meals?’ Has McDonald’s no conscience?”

          Putting such irony over faith in an international corporate conglomerate responsible for the McNugget aside for a moment, the backlash to the Happy Meals soon spanned all major media outlets.

          An Entertainment Weekly article published in July of that year quoted the Dove Foundation, a Michigan-based nonsectarian Christian organization, as saying, “Parents…trust McDonald’s. So why is McDonald’s promoting a movie to little kids that’s filled with gratuitous graphic violence?”

          The most humorous thing about this public relations nightmare was how both McDonald’s and Warner Bros. attempted to downplay the fiasco.

          McDonald’s spokeswoman Rebecca Caruso said, “The objective of the [Happy Meal] program was to allow young people to experience the fun of Batman the character. It was not designed to promote attendance at the movie. It was certainly not our intent to confuse parents or disappoint children.”


          A Warner Bros. press release one-upped that by stating that the promotion is tied to the then-53-year-old character and not Batman Returns. “We were careful not to provide actual toys from the movie,” the press release said.

          Judge for yourself by watching some of the vintage 1992 McDonald’s commercials for Batman Returns by clicking right here. Also, savor the following line for the Batman Returns themed cups: “With five Frisbee Bat-disc lids straight from the movie.”

          For whatever it’s worth, McDonald’s did not pull the Happy Meal line early despite recent internet rumors, and maintained them until September 7, 1992. However, discomfort over this reaction may have led to McDonald’s reportedly asking Steven Spielberg to tone down the most violent sequences of the following summer’s Jurassic Park in time for fast food tie-in deals.

          Many years later for the aforementioned 2005 Shadows of the Bat documentary, scripter Sam Hamm, whose own screenplay for Batman Returns got thrown out for Waters’ work, graciously defended the movie from aggrieved parents. “The movie itself, apart from being a merchandizing machine, apart from all the toys sales it was supposed to generate, the movie itself was never presented as a child-friendly movie. And so, I just think it’s a mistake of perception. I think the parents who complained just got it wrong, but there was no attempt to deceive anyone.”

          Be that as it may, it did not mean heads weren’t ready to roll at Warner Bros. As early as late July 1992, WB executives were allowing themselves to be anonymously quoted as unhappy with the diminished box office performance of Batman Returns, which cost $45 million more to make than the 1989 film (that cost $35 million unto itself).

          “It’s too dark [and] it’s not a lot of fun,” one WB suit lamented to Entertainment Weekly. Meanwhile, smelling blood in the water, a rival studio chief said to the magazine, “If you bring back Burton and Keaton, you’re stuck with their vision. You can’t expect Honey, I Shrunk the Batman.”

          Obviously, for any Batman fan over eight-years-old, it’s fabulous to hear what the industry perception of the character was even after Tim Burton’s two brooding flirtations with German Expressionism in gaudy costumes.

          Initially Tim Burton was still expected to return to what was being called “Batman III” in the trades. There were even reports that Robin Williams was expected to play the Riddler for Burton’s third Batman film (more on that in a moment), as well as a return for Michelle Pfeiffer in her iconic role as Catwoman. However, all of these rumors should be taken with a grain of salt since Burton never made it to the scripting stage for Batman 3.

          In the Shadows of the Bat documentary, Burton recollected his exit from the franchise.

          “I remember toying with the idea of doing another one. And I remember going into Warner Bros. and having a meeting. And I’m going, ‘I could do this or we could do that.’ And they go like, ‘Tim, don’t you want to do a smaller movie now? Just something that’s more [you]?’ About half an hour into the meeting, I go, ‘You don’t want me to make another one, do you?’ And they go, ‘Oh, no, no, no, no, no!’ And I just said, ‘No, I know you!’ So, we just stopped it right there.”

          And with Tim Burton out, Warner Bros. was free to tap Joel Schumacher to helm the next Batman movie with the understanding that it would be much more toy (and Happy Meal) friendly. For the children and their parents. Of course.

          However, Michael Keaton did not leave immediately with Tim Burton. Indeed, he was slated to return to what became Batman Forever rather late into its 1994 production. And yes, Robin Williams, who was famously shafted by WB when they used him as a negotiating chip against Jack Nicholson for the role of the Joker in the 1989 film, was in line to play the Riddler going into 1994. According to a 1995 Variety article, Williams dithered too long after the role was offered, and rising star Jim Carrey (coming off Ace Ventura and The Mask) “stepped into the role.” It has never been clarified if Williams disliked the script and direction Schumacher was developing or if Carrey and his agent pulled one over on the legendary actor, but quite honestly, Mr. Williams’ legacy probably benefitted from it.

          Also of note for not appearing in Batman Forever were actors Billy Dee Williams and Marlon Wayans. Williams had famously been cast as Harvey Dent in the original 1989 Batman film with the expectation to play Dent’s twisted and tragic alter-ego, Two-Face, in a later installment. On the 2005 DVD edition of Batman, Williams said, “I really wanted desperately to obviously do Two-Face…I wanted to see what I could do with it. It would have been different from Tommy Lee’s. I’ve got my own kind of madness.”

          This led to an internet rumor that Williams was paid for the part in Batman Forever due to his 1988 contract. Williams has recently denied this. quoted Williams from a Nashville Comic Con in 2013 as saying, “You only get paid if you do the movie. I had a two-picture deal with Star Wars. They paid me for that. But I only had a one-picture deal for Batman.”

          However, Wayans did get paid for not appearing in Batman Forever. Having originally been cast by Burton to appear as Robin in Batman Returns, Wayans was cut from an already crowded film. However, when Schumacher came in for the third Batman movie, the decision came down for Robin to be played by Chris O’Donnell, despite Wayans already having a two-picture deal. In 2009, Wayans told io9, “I still get residual checks. Tim Burton didn’t wind up doing three, Joel Schumacher did it and he had a different vision for who Robin was. So, he hired Chris O’Donnell.” And like that, there coincidentally were no more major parts played by African-Americans in the Batman franchise.

          Keaton, meanwhile, famously threw the movie into upheaval when he departed Batman Forever less than a year before its release. In a July 1994 Entertainment Weekly article, an “insider” said, “He wanted $15 million. He wanted a chunk of the gross, he wanted a chunk of merchandizing.” While possible, this seems like typical studio tactics of throwing shade on an individual during a messy break-up. Keaton’s producing partner, Harry Colomby, countered, “Money was never the issue. Not doing this movie means he probably gave up $30 million based on his back-end deal.”

          According to EW, Keaton was unhappy that Schumacher replaced his pal Tim Burton. Further, “[After one meeting with Schumacher] Michael was not feeling confident.” He reportedly disliked that his input about making it more of Batman’s story (as opposed to the villains’) had been ignored, and that he was not consulted once during the script writing.

          During his appearance on a 2013 WTF Podcast with comedian Marc Maron, Keaton maintained his position nearly 20 years later. “The guy who’s doing them now, Chris Nolan, he’s so talented, it’s crazy,” Keaton said. “[Christian Bale] is so talented. It’s so good….You look at where he went, which is exactly what I wanted to do when I was having meetings about the third one. I said, ‘You want to see how this guy started. We’ve got a chance here to fix whatever we kind of maybe went off. This could be brilliant!’” Keaton added that after Burton left and Schumacher came aboard, “I could see that was going south.”

          After Keaton departed, Rene Russo, who was cast only one week prior to Keaton’s exit, was replaced with Nicole Kidman in the role of Dr. Chase Meridian, because she was perceived as too old to be Val Kilmer’s love interest.

          The rest, as they say, is history. But perhaps it was for the best? A third Tim Burton Batman movie could, in theory, have starred Robin Williams in a role just as depraved as Jack Nicholson’s Joker and Danny DeVito’s Penguin, and opposite a returning Pfeiffer who’s so puuurfect for the part of Catwoman that I couldn’t resist the pun. Maybe Keaton would have had more to do, as well.

          Then again, if not for Batman Forever’s successor, the infamous Batman & Robin mega-flop, the series would not have so embarrassingly and spectacularly imploded. Ergo, there might not have been something brilliant but dormant for Christopher Nolan to reboot in 2005 into the masterful The Dark Knight Trilogy. In that sense, it may have been for the best. But it never hurts to wonder in lieu of a neon-backlit Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones doing a Benny Hill routine.


        • June 18th, 1992 – Twenty years later, how backlash against Batman Returns changed the blockbuster business.

          Three years ago, in celebration of the 20th anniversary of Tim Burton’s Batman, I wrote a piece detailing seven ways in which the film changed the movie business. What was meant to be a celebratory piece turned a bit dark as I realized that the film (which I still love) had far more negative effects than positive effects. Now we sit on the 20th anniversary of Batman Returns, which is divisive enough as to cause fights over its relative quality. It’s either an overstuffed mess or possibly the best Batman film ever made, you can guess which side of the fence I’m closer to. The sequel opened on June 18th, 1992 to mixed-positive reviews. There is no laundry list of the ways the sequel altered the cinematic landscape like its predecessor. But it did indeed have two massive effects on mainstream movie-going, both of which are quite negative, that still reverberate to this day. And without further ado, here are three (3) ways Batman Returns changed the industry, one relatively unimportant and two quite unfortunate.

          Character posters became an indispensable marketing tool –
          It is pretty much status quo today, but Warner Bros. marketing took a simple idea, creating individual character posters of the main participants, and ran with it. Thus aside from the various teaser posters and theatrical one-sheet, you had individual posters of Batman, The Penguin, and Catwoman. Now before the online film news era, the purpose of these posters was pretty simple: They allowed for the variation of the film’s print ads for greater saturation. They were so popular that there were widespread reports of various character posters being stolen from bus-stops and off of walls all over America, a trend that would continue with Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. 20th Century Fox revived this idea for the first X-Men picture in 2000, and it’s been par for the course ever since… unless you’re whomever handled marketing for Disney’s John Carter. In the last twenty years we’ve seen countless character posters for any number of would-be blockbusters and even for some more small-scale studio releases now and then. Again, it’s a minor thing, but credit goes to the one that did it first. And unless I’m forgetting something, Batman Returns did it first.

          Batman Returns invents the quick-kill blockbuster –
          I’ve been whining about this for twenty years. When Batman Returns opened to $46 million in June 1992, besting Batman’s record $40 million debut in 1989, many analysts and pundits figured that the sequel would surely out-gross the $251 million domestic total for the first Batman and thus become the sixth-highest grossing film of all-time (Batman ended its run at number five, but Home Alone earned $281 million the next year to take the #3 spot behind Star Wars and E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial). But the film dropped what was a then-huge 45% in its second weekend and was basically played out in just six weeks. With $162 million, the film was still the top-grossing picture of summer 1992 and ended up number three for the year, behind Home Alone 2 ($175 million), and Aladdin ($220 million). There are reasons for this lightning-fast drop, and I’ll get to it in the next portion. Batman Returns was something we had never seen before – a film that was generally disliked by the populace and fell out of the box office top ten in a matter of weeks, but still earned so much money in those initial weekends that it was still a massive hit. This taught Hollywood an awful lesson, and extension on the ‘opening weekend rules!’ lesson learned from Batman. Tim Burton’s Batman sequel was mostly dismissed by the masses but it was still a blockbuster. Back in 1992, the film’s quick plunge caused pandemonium across the industry. But three years later, when Batman Forever opened with $52 million (another record) and ended with just $184 million in America (number two behind Toy Story’s $197 million for the year), no one so much as blinked.

          By the time Mission: Impossible opened with $76 million in six days but ended up with just $181 million total (it went from a Fri-Sun opening of $46 million to a second-weekend gross of $22 million, a 53% drop) in 1996, the die was cast. No longer did you actually have to make a well-liked film to score blockbuster grosses (if you recall, audiences found the Brian DePalma’s Mission: Impossible too confusing). All you needed was the opening and pre-release anticipation to score a massive opening weekend and the natural progression over the next four weekends would still lead to major profitability. In the many years that followed, there were any number of quick-kill blockbusters. Films like Lara Croft: Tomb Raider ($47 million opening/$131 million domestic finish), Men In Black II ($87 million over the July 4th holiday weekend, $190 million domestic finish), and The Matrix Reloaded ($134 million from Thurs-Sun, $281 million domestic finish) all had relatively spectacular opening weekends after which they sank like proverbial stones. Cut to June 2005, when Batman Begins was considered leggy and the benefactor of good word-of-mouth because it dropped only 45% in its second weekend ($48 million in the Fri-Sun portion of a five-day debut, $29 million second weekend). Nowadays, would-be blockbusters are considered leggy if they gross three-times their Fri-Sun opening weekend over their domestic theatrical run. And the film-going experience is generally so front-loaded anyway that surprisingly good summer 2011 entries like Fast Five and Captain America still took massive second-weekend dips. In an environment like that, what exactly is the incentive to make a good movie?

          Batman Returns delivers a fatal blow for adult sensibilities in four-quadrant blockbusters –
          So, why exactly did Batman Returns turn off mass audiences in such a ‘trail-blazing’ fashion? Well, obviously enough people thought it just wasn’t a very good movie, however I might disagree with that sentiment. But the film also triggered a public outcry over its content and its tone. While Batman inspired a token amount of finger-wagging about whether a Batman movie should be PG-13, Batman Returns was seen as pushing the envelope of that PG-13 rating. The film is filled with often graphic violence, gruesome imagery, explicit sexual innuendos, and rather dark plot turns. Yes the body count is low, but this was not a generic and/or conventional blockbuster, but a morbid and often grotesque fairy tale that earned its PG-13. It was absolutely intended for kids ten-and-up as opposed to the five-years who flocked to the theaters and didn’t like The Penguin’s horrifying appearance and/or his often vile behavior (eating raw fish, bleeding black slime, plotting to kidnap and drown babies, etc.) one bit. Parents were shocked/horrified by both the violence and the rather explicit sexuality on display. Obviously Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman (which I’d argue should have won her an Oscar that year) was crafted as a sexually confrontational being (the gimmick is that Selina Kyle is a goodie-goodie acting like a stereotypical vixen as a form of emotional release) and The Penguin spends the whole movie leering and offering crude sexual come-ons.

          At heart, Batman Returns, with its Grand-Guignol overtones and over-the-top weirdness, is basically an art film about damaged souls dressing up in costumes to avoid dealing with their emotional traumas. It actually set the template for the superhero sequel, with the hero facing villains who were metaphorical stand-ins for what he could become (the cruel businessman, the freakish and embittered orphan, and the openly murderous vigilante) if he gave into the darker parts of his soul (Iron Man 2 and The Dark Knight both play in the same thematic sandbox). The public outcry over its (I’d argue) age-appropriate content was as much caused by the film’s aggressive marketing to much younger kids (especially the McDonald’s Happy Meal tie-in which sparked outcry) and led the way for what would eventually be much stricter marketing rules for R-rated films. It was a true PG-13 film but everyone was up-in-arms because it didn’t play like a glorified PG action film. Never-mind that the first Batman was incredibly violent, or that the prior summer’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves also earned outcry over its overwhelming violence, the long-game effect was not a toning down of violent content in PG-13 films but rather a neutering of genuinely adult themes, overt sexuality, and overly complex characters in films deemed to be mass-market blockbusters.

          How many times have you seen a PG-13 film theoretically pitched at adults that has the sensibility of a kids’ film (Terminator: Salvation comes to mind)? There has been a meme for as long as I’ve been alive that mass-market films are aimed towards fourteen-year old boys. To the extent that it’s true today, the aftershocks of a genuinely adult-skewing fantasy like Batman Returns played a big role in terms of the kinds of ideas and content that gets into major tent-pole genre films. How often do mainstream would-be blockbusters have genuinely adult subject matter, adult concepts, or even somewhat subversive adult content? The heroes are generally square, the girls are pretty much virgin/whore, and the villains are genocidal without being overtly disturbing. Batman Returns, along with Brian DePalma’s Mission: Impossible represented the last time would-be blockbusters were actually pitched at an adult audience. Even pure R-rated studio fare (however rare that is in the first place) like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo has graphic violence and several rape scenes but still plays in the arena of pure good vs. pure evil. Even clearly-adult skewing thrillers like The Da Vinci Code are drained of sexuality and any potentially controversial ideas that might offend mass audiences.

          There are exceptions here and there over the last twenty years, be it the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels, The Bourne Supremacy, and arguably The Dark Knight. But the popular and critical reaction to Batman Returns led to a certain homogenization of mainstream blockbuster cinema overall, with PG-13 films that may have been packed with bloodless violence but were mostly devoid of adult sensibilities and truly adult content. The popularity of young-adult fantasy adaptations which sometimes acknowledge grey morality (Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hunger Games) and sometimes play in the darker end of the pool may bode well towards ending this long trend, but we’ll cross that bridge if/when. And television has certainly picked up the slack offering a host of morally-complicated dramas and unapologetic anti-heroes in unquestionably adult-targeted narratives. Seven years after its creation, the PG-13 went from ‘R-lite’ to ‘PG-plus’. Even as the 2001 FEC marketing guidelines have given us ten years of R-rated films cut to PG-13 ribbons, the mega-movies are still pitched to a somewhat juvenile audience even when they seem intended for adult moviegoers. It’s not that the last two decades of blockbusters were bereft of ideas, but rather that that they seemed pitched to a certain conformist morality/philosophy and child’s-eye view of the world even while they got more violent and more intense over the decades.

          Twenty years after Batman Returns, we are in a movie-going era where studios can get away with explaining that a 55% second-weekend drop isn’t that bad due to front-loading and where it’s perfectly normal for a major film to make 80% of their domestic grosses in the first seventeen days. Thanks to the precedent set by Batman Returns, blockbusters don’t have to be good to reach relative blockbuster grosses, while the fear of losing even a single quadrant has rendered even R-rated films as mostly kid-friendly in terms of subject matter and ideology (think of how many R-rated sex comedies feature almost no explicit sex and end with an overt validation of the monogamist nuclear family). For better or worse, Batman Returns was an adult-skewing, genuinely subversive art-house fantasy disguised as a four-quadrant blockbuster. The deception was punished and its effects were lasting. Twenty years later, we’re still living with the aftershocks.


        • Check out Michael Keaton’s BATMAN FOREVER costume!

          As the expert Batmanologist (A position that cowardly and superstitious institutions have yet to acknowledge) I know all about getting into and out of Batsuit. Mostly…


  159. Batman in 1980s/90s: Michael Keaton:

    Sam Hamm: Our guy is basically insane and Batman is a manifestation of his insanity (Anthology)

    Tim Burton’s Batman world mirrored the roots of the character, in many ways thanks to the creative involvement of Bob Kane.
    One must have in mind that at the time the general public’s perception on batman was that of a constantly smiling, blue/grey hero in tights, mainly due to the 1960’s TV show and the cartoons that followed which featured Batman.
    Burton and his creative team really pushed the envelope as far as they could at the time, and brought him back to the roots while adding original ideas such as black makeup around the eyes, the suit being a black armor and the sculpted expression on the mask.

    The character goes back to roots and presents not a typical hero, but a Gothic character who truly is insane, has a split personality disorder and doesn’t mind killing, as his original version. Burton’s Batman is the Batman Bob Kane first envisioned when doing the early, pre-Robin issues with a bit of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns Batman also in for good mix.

    Michael Uslan (producer): I only let Tim see the original year of the Bob Kane/Bill Finger run, up until the time that Robin was introduced (DVD)

    Keaton’s hero is dark, mysterious and melancholy–“the way I created Batman in 1939,” says Bob Kane, comic creator and a consultant on the film. (USA today 1989)

    Bob Kane: At the beginning I drew him as a vigilante, very mysterious, dark and broody (20/20 1989)

    Jon Peters (producer): This Batman would be a comic book Gothic, a dark fable that would restore Bob Kane’s original gloomy luster (Newsweek 1989)

    Sam Hamm: The idea that interested us the most was to go back to the original Bob Kane notion, and we thought that that was the version that would give us sort of the most antre to the story which we wanted to tell, to go kind of dark mysterioso myth, that we could also say that we’re going back to the roots of the character, you know, were kind of peeling away all the detours the character’s taken over the years and trying to zero in on what this original concept was (Anthology)

    Burton’s Batman movies are a mix of German Expressionism, Gothic literature (which features characters with psychological and physical terror and mystery), fairy tale, the art of silent movies, Opera and conventional filmmaking (all of those confirmed by Burton)

    Michael Keaton portrays the Dracula Batman of the roots, a stoic figure which is like a ghost, intimidating with silence and just his presence

    Batman in the script is referred to or described with such words as the Bat, Black Apparition, Black Figure, Human Bat and Black Spectre

    Expressionism is a mode of representation whereby internal feelings and abstract concepts are displayed externally, often at the expense of realism and artistic convention. Expressionist art usually has a surreal or fantastic quality to it, presenting distorted aesthetics through which the true nature of a thing is belied in its external countenance (Catwoman’s patchy suit – Selina’s patchy and fragmented personality, Batman’s suit – his inner darkness and psychosis, the Gothic look of Gotham with gargoyles – the dark and evil nature of the city, etc). In narrative terms, Expressionist films were often preoccupied with dark subject matter such as evil and madness (Keaton’s Batman, Joker, Catwoman = madness, Penguin-evil)

    Tim Burton: “It was the strength and simplicity that I really loved about the expressionists’ work. That and the fairy-tale element.”

    “I love things like Hunchback and Beauty and the Beast” (San Diego Tribune Batman article, 1989)

    “That’s why I like this material, there’s an operatic tragedy really to the whole thing” (BR audio commentary)

    Here, Batman was not placed predictably as main character because it would take out all the mystery and spookiness out of him. In this Gothic version of the character, Batman is shown as a dark avenger, a creepy and shadowy phantom who we never get to know well and see much. Just like the characters in Gothic literature, such as either the phantom from Phantom of the Opera or the Beast from Beauty and the Beast, we only see the glimpses of him, and we don’t see much of what Phantom of the Opera is doing, but rather see glimpses of him and get to know his story through other characters’ point of view. In Gothic stories the characters are like vampires or phantoms and we see them only through the eyes of other, normal people. And he’s a mystery. He sleeps upside down, sits alone in the dark and stays away from people, living in a castle with only a butler. He’s a perfect Gothic character, in many ways similar to and as interesting as Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
    Elfman’s score filters Hermannesque themes through a Gothic sensibility and the result is heroic and sinister all at once.

    The genius of Burton’s conception was in decenteralizing the superhero. By closely pairing Batman with the Joker, Burton showed two halves of same obsession. The strong similarities between hero and villain became the new movie’s focus. Burton realize what the makers of the “Superman” movies did not, that “Star Wars” Darth Vader was as, if not more, interesting, than Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo. A Manhattan bank employee told Newsweek: “Batman is the best of both worlds, a hero who looks like a villain.” Truth to tell, the Joker was more interesting than Batman, which reaffirmed Burton’s philosophy by showing how substantially “Batman” rewrote the rules of the American superheroand Hollywood entertainment. (NY Times’ Emanuel Levy)

    Tim Burton: Again for these characters, they have a tragic beginning, the middle and end and that sort of opera tragedy goes with this material (…) He’s a man whose dressed as a bat, it doesn’t get anymore operatic than that in a certain way (…) You know that’s an opera , you can see why it’s an opera, it’s such a grand sort of phantom of the opera kind of thing (BR Commentary)

    What drew Burton was “that I loved the extremes, the operatic quality of the characters. (…) I loved that basic good vs. evil, night fable, Phantom of the Opera stuff.” (San Diego Tribune 1989)

    The bat symbol, like the mask from The Phantom of the Opera, has become an icon of gothic glamour–a talisman for those seeking light entertainment from the dark side.(Maclean, 1992)

    Bob Kane: The first year of Batman was heavily infuenced by horror films, and emulated a Dracula look (via BRT)

    It is also worth noting that Michael Gough played Lord Ambrose d’Arcy in 1962’s Phantom of the Opera and Max Shreck is a name of the actor who portrayed the creature in 1922’s Nosferatu

    Naturally no origins were shown in order to preserve the mystique character.

    Sam Hamm: You totally destroy your credibility if you show the literal process by which Bruce Wayne becomes Batman (Cinefantastique 1989)

    Also, it’s yet again simply reconstructing the original Batman story. In Burton’s films, Batman is a mysterious Gothic figure who sometimes kills the criminals he comes across, similar to the Batman of 1939. Though the character is introduced in Detective Comics #27, we don’t Batman’s origin until Detective Comics # 33, similar to how the audience doesn’t see Batman’s origin until shortly before the climax. Detective Comics # 27 begins several weeks after Batman has begun fighting crime, similar to how Batman begins with muggers already talking about Batman.

    Tim Burton: “This guy wants to remain as hidden as possible, and in the shadows as possible, and unrevealing about himself as possible, so all of those things – you know, he’s not gonna eat up screen time by these big speeches and doing dancing around the Batcave”

    “Again, I felt less is more with him in the sense of who he is. (…) Michael’s eyes – it goes back to kind of like silent movie acting. I like when people sort of just look. It’s a movie so you kinda get more between the lines then you do [from] the actual lines (…) There’s a loneliness to that character and witheldness. He’s a character that is sad and is private”
    “Even when he’s standing there looking there’s an electricity about him. Again this is why I wanted him for Batman because its all about that.” (BR audio commentary)

    “I wanted Michael from the start. I knew he could do it after working with him on Beetlejuice. And there is something in his eyes, a dimension of feeling, even with the mask on.”(San Diego Tribune 1989)

    “Michael has this explosive side. All you have to do is look in his eyes and you know he’s nuts” (Newsweek, 1989)

    Keaton was stunningly perfect for the Gothic expressionist presence he was suppose to portray, similar to the one in Murnau’s Nosferatu (another Expressionist Gothic story in which characters worked with presence and eyes) which was also one of Tim Burton’s favorites. Like Burton said, they were going back to the silent movie acting with presence and stare, with which Keaton did wonders

    Bob Kane: Michael Keaton has an edge about him. (…) [He] has a maniacal quality that Nicholson has, the same craziness going on in the eyes. (People, 1989)

    Michael Keaton plays his part with a brooding style and style that suggests much more than meets the eye (Times 1989)

    As already mentioned, this Batman is indeed insane, just as the original Batman was. This Bruce didn’t put on a Batman suit. He was transforming into Batman

    Bob Kane: When Bruce Wayne was 10 years old, his mother and dad were murdered coming out of the theater. This dramatic shock motivated him to become a vigilante. became, in his own way, as psychotic as the Joker, except the Joker fights against justice and for evil. They’re mirror images of each other. (People, 1989)

    Sam Hamm: Our guy is basically insane and Batman is a manifestation of his insanity (Anthology)

    Michael Keaton: What makes it doubly interesting is that he’s kind of psychotic. At first, I wasn’t willing to take it that far, but Tim was more than willing to take it that far. I read the script thinking, ‘This guy’s really angry and depressed and dark (Boston Globe 1989)

    For Keaton, Bruce-Batman is something of a schizophrenic (Times 1989)

    Dan Didio (VP editorial, DC comics) It’s about boy who loses his parents and can never overcome the grief for that (Anthology)

    Tim Burton: Batman is dark, scarred, depressed. (Newsweek 1989)
    There’s tension and insanity. We’re trying to say this guy is obviously nuts, but in the most appealing way possible (from Allison McMahan’s Tim Burton book)

    There’s a strange nature about Keaton’s Wayne. It is implied that it wasn’t his choice, he did not choose Batman but Batman chose him. It’s as if there was a reckoning, he was summoned to be Batman which added to his over the edge nature of almost snapping at any point (You wanna get nuts!?). He was compelled to become the Batman. And it was something that consumed him. He almost has no life outside of that suit and he himself can’t explain it and admittedly tried to fight it before: “Look sometimes I don’t know what to think of this. It’s just something I have to do. Look, I tried to avoid all of this but I can’t. This is how it is”

    Keaton does locate the troubled human inside Batman’s armature. He is amusingly awkward wrestling with the threat that Vicky’s inquisitive love represents. (Time magazine 1989)

    Tim Burton: Thats what I appreciated about him as well. He’s able to take that distraction and sadness and loneliness and intensity but then also have a humor without it calling too much attention to itself (BR Commentary)

    Bruce’s psychosis wasn’t explored in numerous flashbacks but we certainly get to understand who he is. It’s just conveyed in other ways. The fact that he mistakes himself for being in the costume when he is out of the costume. He enters an iron maiden. He has no one besides Alfred. He refers to himself as Bruce Wayne only some of the time. He sits in Wayne Manor alone patiently awaiting when to suit up.

    Dan Didio: Batman’s the real identity. Bruce Wayne is the secret identity, Bruce Wayne is who he is but it’s just a shell. Bruce Wayne is just passing time until Batman can take over and Batman can be who he is. The wonderful aspect of Michael Keaton’s portrayal is that you felt almost sad for him, the fact that he looked so uncomfortable in his own skin, in his own house, talking to people who were suppose to be his best friends. The you wonder where does he fit in in the world, thus when you see him sitting in the batcave in front of the console you realize this is where he belongs, this is where he should be (Anthology)

    Also it is important to note that this Bruce is not a socialite. The most he does is host a gala and even then, he tries to hide among the crowd and refuses to even answer to Bruce Wayne. Even members of the press have no idea how he looks like. Most people in Gotham were only vaguely familiar with the name Bruce Wayne. There was no Wayne Enterprise at all and it seemed like his money just came from old family wealth, which allowed him to be a hermit stuck in Wayne manor instead of a socialite that the newspapers wanted to print about.

    Even in the suit, he’s a creature of the night and constantly keeps backing up into the shadow and keeps the interaction to a bare minimum (just like in the original portrayal).

    Tim Burton: I thought a lot about the character. I wanted to deal with understandable human issues. Loneliness is a big part of it. The kid’s 10 years old and he sees something very bad happen and he shuts down. He becomes a very lonely, isolated person (Newsweek 1989)

    He wants to remain as hidden and as silent and as unresponsive as possible, both figuratively and literally, and being this Gothic phantom, naturally he’s not present at the unveiling of the bat signal, and the only time he speaks to police and Gordon is when he says “we’ll see” in Batman Returns without even stopping or looking at them (and again, as in the original portrayal).

    Even when he asked Vicky for a date he picked his own house where they ate dinner alone in a big diner room. When he invited Selina for a date he also picked a secluded place, which is his home, far away from people and public places

    Keaton’s Batman is stoic, almost mechanical. When he sheds his armor, the emotional barrier remains. There isn’t much shading to Keaton’s superhero. That’s the point. His psyche is scarred almost beyond repair. He’s a vacuum, in danger of imploding. It is a riveting, understated performance. (St Petersburg times 1989)

    What Keaton brings to his characterization of both Batman and his millionaire-playboy alter ego, Bruce Wayne, is a quality of coiled concentration, a wary vigilance. In his Batsuit, Keaton’s movements are stylized, almost robotic, and the stiffness of movement carries Arthurian associations, as if he were indeed a dark knight, armored for battle
    But as evocative as he is in his Bat regalia, it’s as Bruce Wayne that Keaton announces his own arrival. This is a true star performance, subtle, authoritative and sexually vibrant.there’s genuine pain in the performance, signs of a wounded man trying to shake free of childhood traumas.The Warren Skaaren-Sam Hamm script portrays Wayne as a realist who isn’t sure himself why he does what he does. Driven by the vision of his parents’ murder, his life is not his own. (Washington post 1989)

    There’s also more to the mysterious and disturbing personality of this Batman, as he’s seen grinning occasionally without uttering a sound for no immediately apparent reason in sick context. The first time was when Bob The Goon threatened to kill Gordon if Batman won’t release Napier (not as a reaction to Napier’s comment about the outfit as some say), and in Batman Returns he smiles just before blowing a guy up to pieces

    Lets also not forget the terrific idea of Bruce Wayne entering the bat cave via an iron maiden. A “tortured soul” both literally and figuratively.

    Tim Burton: The iron maiden is a torture device, so you know, him being a tortured individual, you could see him connecting to that on some level emotionally and I thought it would be a good image (BR commentary)

    All that leads up to his split personality which he confirms himself in both movies. When asked by Joker if he’s Bruce Wayne, he says “most of the time” When first talking to Selina, he says “I mistook me for someone else” and during their date by the fire he’s talking about “two truths”, duality and even likens himself to Norman Bates and Ted Bundy. By the end of Batman Returns he states that he and Selina are both “Split, wrecked in the center”. Worth noting is that at the masked ball in Batman Returns he was the only one not wearing a mask, meaning that his face , the Bruce Wayne name, was a mask (same goes for Selina).

    Michael Keaton: I wanted to see and to show that transition when he goes from Bruce Wayne to Batman, the time when he’s about to don the suit and go out and wreak some havoc. That’s not a casual thing, obviously, it’s not putting on a jacket to go out for the evening. So what is that transition like? So there was a thing we did early on that showed him going into a sort of trance and it justified this shift in him. So we did that scene and it never made it into the film but I think helped me in a way. It was part of the way he became this other thing and even if you didn’t see it, it was part of the character and the way we created him. ( 2011)

    As already mentioned, this Batman is like a phantom, a spook, and this performance wasn’t just based on comic books and human beings, but bats as well, helping to craft the creepy and Gothic presence and performance of the character in the suit

    Micheal Keaton: “I went to the source and read about bats.” (USA Today 1989)

    Tim Burton: Batman lives by night, and we wanted to explore the man behind him, Bruce Wayne, who really has a dark past to confront. It’s a tale of primal emotions.(San Diego Tribune 1989)
    I’ve always enjoyed the images associated with Batman. Somehow, they strike a very primal chord. Maybe it has to do with bats, because they’re such great creatures. Show anyone a bat and right away, they’ll perk up.
    “They’re very beautifully designed creatures, very primal, very old and very interesting. They’re there throughout history, from Dracula to opera. When you see that image of the Bat logo out there now, it’s like you’ve got the DTs or something.”(Tornonto Star 1989)

    Brian Bolland: “To me [Batman] looks good when he’s kind of like monolithic and motionless somehow, just this shadow” (Anthology)

    It was also Tim Burton who originated the idea of Batman changing his voice while in the costume. While it may sound to many nowadays like a natural thing to do, it was never mentioned in the comic books before 1989 and wasn’t used in any of the serials or the TV show or any of the cartoons featuring Batman before 1989.

    Tim Burton: “We’d try all sorts of movements. Then we’d say, ‘How about changing your voice?’ (AMC)

    He only speaks when absolutely necessary, and when he does it’s in a ghost – like whisper. When he does speak, you know without doubt he means what he is saying. The obvious way to play a superhero is a gruff yell, but Keaton dials it down to a whisper, which makes him seem all the more intense.

    Batman changes in the second movie. He starts out as the same character in the beginning of Returns (although “[Tim and Michael] still saw him as a wounded soul” – Daniel Waters Fangoria 1992), he’s in his study, sitting alone in the dark and there is only deafening silence. And then the bat-signal turns on and he has found his one and only purpose in life. That simple dialog free scene conveys a very important message about the character. At the end of Batman, Batman killed The Joker for revenge and in Batman Returns he becomes more consumed by the monster within himself as he took more pleasure killing criminals in the beginning of the film where he burns that guy in devil suit, straps the bomb around the strongman and shoots the spear gun into the clowns head. And then he meets Selina – “We can go home…together. Selina…don’t you see? We’re the same. Split. Wrecked in the center”. This is a big growth of character for him. This is the first tie he opened up. With Vicky, he was always dismissive of her and she was always secondary to his crime fighting (“I can’t think of it right now”). He lied to her that he’s going away for a couple of days which was even before he knew about Joker’s existence, he was constantly ignoring her calls and even completely ignored her in person in front of the City Hall. He looked even annoyed by her

    It wasn’t until almost at the end when he finally decided to tell her why he ditched her after one night after constant naggings from her and Alfred, thinking that she deserves the truth after all this behavior towards her. And also they went their separate ways because she couldn’t deal with his dual personality and life, so she had to go.
    But with Selina, it’s the first time he thought of hanging up the cape and leading a semi-normal life. After all these years of internal pain and revenge driven life, he meets someone who is hurting as much as he does inside, and also as fractured, someone who shares the pain – someone who understands. This is exactly the same thing as with the Frankenstein monster – he was an outsider who was hurting and all he wanted was just one person in the world who understood him, one person like him, to talk to and to spend his life with. And Selina was this Bride of Frankenstein for Bruce.

    Tim Burton: It was kind of him opening up for the first time (BR commentary)

    His pain was eased and he was now more in peace, lighter in a way and focusing on Selina. In her he saw a reflection of himself, that she was another psychologically damaged person like him out for revenge, so he attempts to stop her from killing Max Shreck by suggesting that he gets apprehended and this was Batman’s way of protecting her from getting consumed by revenge the same way that he did after killing The Joker.

    There’s not much known about this Batman’s upbringing’s, but he is shown to master detective skills (figuring out Joker’s identity, hideout and poison combination, going through old newspapers figuring out Penguin’s true side and past murders etc – classic detective work with research and deductive/creative thinking), he’s extremely knowledgeable in chemistry (figuring out the chemical poison code which police couldn’t do) and even more so technology, since he builds all of his equipment alone and fixes and designs his gadgets himself, not to mention being able to figure out radio frequencies and ways around to jam the signals etc.

    The moment when he slides down the tunnel to the Batcave in Returns, and instantly puts on his glasses as he touches the ground makes him look more serious, very intelligent, sciency and professional.

    Christian Bale: [In answer to: which one of the previous Batmans added the most amount of credibility to the role?] I would say Michael Keaton because of Tim Burton and the way that he approached the movie (Rebecca Murray Int, 2005)


    • 10 Best Batman Film Casting Decisions:

      1. Michael Keaton – Batman

      When it was announced that Michael Keaton was set to play The Dark Knight in Tim Burton’s 1989 motion picture adaptation, there was initial outcry – being that the actor was most recognized for his comedic roles, in such films as ‘Mr Mom’ and ‘Beetlejuice’; fans feared that the star’s presence indicated that the movie would follow in a similar tone to the 1966 ‘Batman’ television series. In actuality, Keaton’s recognition as a comedy actor would actually play to his advantage when donning the Bat-Suit – “serious actors” of the time, who were all in line for the role of Batman (names that included; Harrison Ford, Dennis Quaid and Kevin Costner) would have all likely received unintended laughs from the audience. The humorous Keaton – no stranger to wearing unconventional garb in motion pictures – is able to don the iconic outfit without appearing self-conscious; giving a deadly-serious performance – his experience in comedy allowing him to summon a tinge of insanity to the character, something very few ‘serious’ action film-stars are able to convey.

      Physically, Keaton is the anti-type of the tall, muscle-bound, square-jawed Caped Crusader of the comics – on paper, the concept of this actor as Batman, seems completely inappropriate; until one views the opening scene of Burton’s film. The armor-plated Keaton emerges from the darkness, meters on-the-spot justice to two sleazy street thugs, and murmurs in a voice no louder than a whisper “I’m Batman” – suddenly, the casting that originally seemed perplexing, makes perfect sense. Keaton’s ‘normal-sized’ Batman reminds us that the character is one of the only comic-book heroes who is no more than a mortal man. If the actor were a hulking brute, as depicted in the comics – there would be even less need for the bat-costume itself; for Keaton, who appears as the ‘every-man’, the molded muscular physique of the outfit is essential in ‘enhancing’ Bruce Wayne – giving him superhuman visual aspects. The 5’8″ Michael Keaton, presents a believable character, who would HAVE TO don a bat-costume in order to fight crime in Gotham City.

      Essentially, the key to making Batman plausible is to make Bruce Wayne believable, and through his employment of mentally unsound characteristics as well as physical attributes, Michael Keaton is able to portray the tortured billionaire misfit to perfection. From Wayne’s introductory scene at his mansion party – even before the man is revealed to the audience as Batman – Keaton’s character is intriguingly aloof; as Vicki Vale asks him – “Which one of these guys is Bruce Wayne?”, the young man’s eyes show an adhering focus as he replies “I… I’m not sure.” Quite simply, his words are the truth; Bruce Wayne is an illusory concept, lost behind the persona of Batman. We do however, see aspects of Wayne seep through in Keaton’s performance – especially during a blistering outburst of anger during his confrontation with The Joker in Vick Vale’s apartment, as Keaton puts it;- “What nobody understands is that the key was not Batman. The key was Bruce Wayne – that’s where the real power comes from.”

      The emotional spectrum displayed by Keaton’s Batman/Bruce Wayne surpasses the likes of Val Kilmer, George Clooney and Christian Bale – in Burton’s films, we witness an unhinged Batman with a fiery temper, a murderous streak and perhaps the only two convincing depictions of the hero in love. The casting of Keaton in response to Jack Nicholson’s Joker was another ingenuous decision – both actors share similar traits; with their flare for comedic wit, suave mannerism that echo through their tonally comparable nuanced baritone line-delivery as well as their physical appearance; including their wicked way with an eyebrow. During the confrontation in Vale’s apartment, Keaton’s crazed shouting of; “you wanna get nuts? Lets get nuts!” features strange allusions to Jack Nicholson’s deranged performance in ‘The Shining’ – completely fitting, as clearer parallels between The Joker and Wayne are drawn earlier in the scene, as both characters identically comment on Viki Vale’s apartment upon entering – both saying “Nice place you’ve got here. Lots of space.” These subtle dynamics make Michael Keaton, in my opinion, the best actor ever to don the cape and cowl – as well as the best piece of casting in any Batman movie. As Tim Burton said; “there aren’t many performers that when you look into their eyes, you see a lot going on” – this is precisely true; Keaton gives Batman a fascinating degree of depth, whilst subtly acknowledging in his portrayal that “Bruce Wayne and Batman was a little crazy” – something no other actor has managed to captivate in the role.


      • 5 Oddball Comic Book Movie Casting Choices That Worked Perfectly:

        Michael Keaton as Batman

        In: Batman

        Oddball Because: Because prior to Batman, Keaton was known predominantly for a number of wacky comedic performances. He didn’t just play “Mr. Mom” type roles, he played THE Mr. Mom. He was Beetlejuice. The casting of Keaton led fans to fear that Tim Burton planned on following in the footsteps of the old Adam West TV show, and would emphasize the campiest aspects of the characters. Keaton’s rep hasn’t exactly improved over the years, as Bale has taken the title of Best Bat while the original franchise is mostly remembered for Nicholson’s hamming it up and the Schuamacher-ization of the later entries.

        Why He Was Perfect: Michael Keaton was the first actor to really grasp that Bruce Wayne was just as much, if not more, of a costume as Batman. The fractured psyche of the Bat has come to the forefront of most modern tales of the character, and Keaton was the first to bring that aspect of the character to flesh-and-blood life. Other actors tend to just play Bruce Wayne, even under the cowl, but Keaton completely changed his body language when he was in the Batsuit. There are moments where Batman is looking out at the world through Bruce Wayne’s eyes, and Keaton navigates that personality split beautifully.

        Nowadays, the popular portrayal of Batman is one of slow-burning, coiled fury, thanks to the work by Christian Bale and Kevin Conroy. This is great and all, but Keaton’s take stands out because of the barely restrained psychotic fury that underlines his performance. There are moments where his rage boils over and he flips out (“LET’S GET NUTS!”) and its terrifying, hilarious and exhilarating in equal measure. Keaton was the first person to grasp that Batman is insane and that the audience should, at least in part, be freaked out by the guy. While later actors may have refined that approach, Keaton deserves credit for being the foundation upon which the modern incarnation of a pop culture icon is built on.

        Best Moment: That heart-breaking moment in Batman Returns when, in each other’s arms under the mistletoe, Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle each realize who it is that they’re holding.


    • Michael Keaton doesn’t like Batman movies:

      Nomis1700 • 18 hours ago


      Although I grew up with the Burton Batman films, he never really was Batman to me. He misses the masculinity and the conviction. Bale is my Batman.

      Jason27 Nomis1700 • 16 hours ago

      I’m still waiting for the definitive Bruce Wayne on film. Keaton was good, but lacked the athleticism and toughness. Bale was great, but lacked the somewhat crazy side of Bruce. Batman shouldn’t be something he could turn on and off like a switch.

      Eg Captain DC • 12 hours ago

      Nolan and Bale never really find a way to make you question Bruce Wayne’s sanity. The way Bale plays it, Bruce Wayne really is an overgrown Boy Scout with noble intentions, and there is ultimately nothing all that questionable about his actions or tactics. While his actions are kind of crazy on the surface, the realistic storytelling actually serves to give plausible and reasonable psychological motivation behind Batman.

      Nolan’s primary intention may have been to make the Batman myth more grounded by creating real-world explanations for many elements, but one effect of this is that the basic premise is no longer insane.

      Keaton’s Batman is possibly completely out of his mind, and we never see him try to explain or justify his actions in a convincing way.

      Diego! • 18 hours ago

      I think he had a pivot role in his career when he accepted to do Batman and then everything changed and he didn’t get many roles as good as before. Until now. I think everybody should be proud of their work and if things didn’t work out the way you expected, well, at least you have the experience. But it’s sad to see trashing everybody else’s work by saying that (quoting) “It´s all set up no so you´re kinda safe.” WTF? There were some Batmans too before you Michael! I know you’re one of the best, but as the saying goes, Humility, respect for others and modesty are traits found in strong characters. 😛

      Mark hmmm • 11 hours ago

      The way I remember it, one of the reasons Tim Burton wanted Keaton was specifically because he WASN’T bulked up. His thinking was that if a Perfectly Pumped-Up Man like Cavill or Batfleck wanted to fight crime, he’d go the orthodox route and become a cop, or just go out as himself and fight muggers. The only reason someone would go the weird-costume-and-expensive-toys route is if he WEREN’T already a big, physically imposing man, and therefore needed the gimmicks to give himself an edge.

      So far as the insanity-vs-sanity argument further up the page goes, another thing that made Burton decide Keaton could play the part was seeing him in Beetlejuice, and realizing that he could play scary and dangerous. Take that as you will.

      misterpl • 14 hours ago

      To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of Keaton’s Batflicks either. Yes, they were a big step forward if only because they were a big step away from the last live-action incarnation but I still walked away thinking they only got it half right.

      • While I liked Keaton’s Batman, his Bruce Wayne was too quirky.
      • The Batmobile and Batwing looked awesome but the notion of machine guns and missiles put me off.

      • Nicholson as The Joker was a great idea… 15 years prior. (And Jack killing the Waynes was just wrong.)

      • Catwoman resembled the comic incarnation in name only. Same with Penguin. Burton took too many liberties with his reimaginings for my tastes.

      • Gotham City was gorgeously rendered by Anton Furst but was too cramped and claustrophobic, making the scale seem small.

      Keaton’s right in one regard; they laid groundwork that other filmmakers have been building upon ever since. I wouldn’t mind seeing him return to the role one last time. (Hey, nostalgia’s a powerful drug.)

      Queef Police • 13 hours ago

      Batman made Keaton a superstar, he walked away from it and is career kind of plummeted. So who cares if the man prefers to have some disconnect between him and the character? It brought him to the top where the only place to go from there is down. It doesn’t take a genius to see that in this article he took a very humble attitude, never ever presenting himself as the authority of Batman. He’s just a dude, he doesn’t give a s***. He doesn’t want to be Adam West and have Batman be the only thing he is known for.

      Mark Queef Police • 11 hours ago

      He walked away from it when the franchise was taken away from Tim Burton; he had no interest in the direction the studio wanted Schumacher to go in and I don’t blame him. If anything damaged his career (and that’s a big if) it was probably the intensely unlikeable villain he played in Pacific Heights.

      Queef Police Mark • 11 hours ago

      Thanks for the batman forever history lesson of things all of us already knew but it doesn’t quite advance this discussion. Despite popular opinion of Forever being critically disappointing, it WAS the second-highest (behind Toy Story) grossing film of 1995 in the U.S. and had the highest opening weekend of all time up to that point. After Returns, I cant think of a single film put out by Keaton that was either commercially or critically successful. His career fizzled through a constant stream of lukewarm outings from “the Paper” to “Herbie: fully loaded.”

      Mark Queef Police • 10 hours ago

      When you say “Batman made Keaton a superstar, he walked away from it and is [sic] career kind of plummeted,” you make it sound like Keaton dropping out was an arrogant, ego-driven move on his part, and that there were some just desserts in the way his career played out after that. I disagree; I don’t think Batman really made Keaton a “superstar,” because if it had he would have had some high-profile, major paycheck film credits after Batman Returns. It’s also not like he was determined to walk away from Batman entirely after BR; AFAIK, if Tim Burton hadn’t been taken off the Forever project Keaton might have stuck with it. Keaton was in his 40’s, and quirky rather than being straight-jaw leading-man material, and parts that fit that persona can be hard to come by in Hollywood. Essentially, other than not getting a paycheck for Batman Forever, I don’t think that Keaton’s decision to leave the franchise has any cause-and-effect relationship to the way his career went after that at all.

      Queef Police The Beetlejuice Kid • 9 hours ago

      incorrect, that is not why he got the role. Don’t you know of all the nationwide outrage Burton’s choice in casting him brought? He was more in the “breakout star” stages. Mr Mom, Clean and Sober, ‘juice, were decent additions to a resume however he did not get worldwide, have his own action figure, commercial film notoriety until the Batman films.


  160. Hey STFU, My Life was a really good, if also very depressingly sad, movie! just cuz you didnt like it doesnt mean its a bad movie. i dont recall that movie getting bad reviews, but who really listens to critics anyway?

    anyway, hes still the best batman. screw christian bale with the stupid voice. val kilmer comes in 2nd place, but keaton is still batman to me. noone else comes close.


    • How can I argue with such a well-reasoned response? Profanity always wins. Glad you liked My Life. I found it the cheapest kind of emotional manipulation. But, too each their own.


  161. I recently posted a the link to this blog to the BATMAN WORLD forum on SuperHeroHype Forums:

    Even though I simply quoted the section regarding Michael Keaton’s time as Batman, the moderators removed it completely (w/ just the link remaining) due to “possible copyright infringement”.


  162. Michael Keaton: Batman (Finally) Returns!:

    After sharpening his comedy chops in the late ’70s and early ’80s on TV—guest-starring on Maude, doing sketches on a pair of ill-fated Mary Tyler Moore variety shows, and headlining two short-lived sitcoms, Working Stiffs (with Jim Belushi!) and Report to Murphy—Keaton burned up the big screen with his explosively funny turn as Henry Winkler’s fast-talking sidekick, Bill Blazejowski, in Ron Howard’s 1982 morgue farce Night Shift. That manic persona would define his roles for the next half-decade in comedies good (say it: Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice!), mediocre (Mr. Mom), bad (Johnny Dangerously) and downright ugly (The Squeeze).

    Then a funny thing happened to Keaton: He started getting serious. He gave an emotionally devastating performance as a recovering addict in 1988′s Clean & Sober, which led to his unconventional casting as Caped Crusader Bruce Wayne in Tim Burton’s Batman. (He’d previously worked with the director on Beetlejuice, making him Burton’s proto-Johnny Depp muse.) Yet Keaton pulled off the cowled role, holding his own opposite Jack Nicholson’s Joker as well as Danny DeVito’s Penguin and Michelle Pfeiffer’s fierce Catwoman (who makes Anne Hathaway’s version look like a harmless sex kitten) in the 1992 sequel Batman Returns.

    But Keaton (and Burton) walked away from the franchise, and the actor started to follow his own quixotic muse. He tried Shakespeare in Kenneth Branagh’s Much Ado About Nothing, reteamed with Ron Howard on the underrated newsroom drama The Paper and made a few missteps with the terminally sappy drama My Life, the toothless rom-com Speechless and the unoriginal cloning comedy Multiplicity.

    Quentin Tarantino attempted to engineer a John Travolta-style renaissance for him with a showy role as FBI agent Ray Nicolette in Jackie Brown (a character he’d reprise in Steven Soderbergh’s Out of Sight), but Keaton soon found himself relegated to thankless dad roles opposite Katie Holmes in First Daughter and Alexis Bledel in Post Grad.

    Keaton has done great work in obscure indies like Game 6 (as a die-hard Mets fan) and The Merry Gentleman (as a suicidal hit man), but RoboCop represents his best opportunity in ages to strut his stuff in a movie people might actually see. And as anyone who caught his indelibly scary turn as a psycho tenant in John Schlesinger’s chiller Pacific Heights can testify, Keaton gives good bad guy. For an actor whose career has gone colder than Jack Frost (the less said about that creepy snowman weeper, the better), he’s earned—to paraphrase the title of his overlooked soccer drama—one more shot at glory.


  163. keaton has still got talent. i think he will get back into leadingman status if robocop and the sequel to beetlejuice does well. i’m glad to see terrence michael clay agrees with me on the whole michael keaton, johnny depp, tom hanks conspiracy.


  164. The TBTS Actor Evaluation: Michael Keaton:

    Who doesn’t love Michael Keaton? Not only is he a stalwart of eighties and early nineties cinema, but Keaton has always had the good sense to stay out of the limelight, dutifully doing his job as an entertainer without boring us all with his relationships, Twitter feed and unnecessary need to keep his face on camera twenty-four hours a day. During Keaton’s recent stint in the beautifully absurd 100th episode of 30 Rock, where he played a harried janitor trying to fix a gas leak poisoning the cast, it got us to thinking: where the hell has he gone? We need Michael Keaton back right about now. It also got us to wondering how the actor would fare when called onto the carpet. So here’s to you, Michael Keaton, and good luck today in what is perhaps the ultimate test of an actor’s worth — The TBTS Official Actor Evaluation. (Note: Not all movies are accounted for in this list, but the majority have been considered.)

    Night Shift (+2) — Lot of folks forget this movie. Lot of folks shouldn’t. In his first big-role motion picture outing (and one of director Ron Howard’s early films), Keaton played loose cannon morgue attendant Bill Blazejowski, who lures Henry Winkler’s dull Chuck Lumley into an elicit career as an after-hours pimp. It’s kind of surprising no one’s decided to remake this, actually, but it still hold up. It’s worth revisiting and a lot of fun, and I’m not just saying that because as a young adolescent with access to HBO, it had slutty semi-nude women in it.

    Mr. Mom (+3) — In the film that put Keaton on the map as a comic lead, Keaton’s harried stay-at-home dad cemented his status as a go-to eighties comic. He also co-starred with Teri Garr and Martin Mull, which in 2011 means virtually nothing, but in 1983 was solid company to be in. If you remember the name Schooner Tuna at all, it’s because of Mr. Mom. Virtually unseen on television these days, for many years after its release, Mr. Mom held strong in the replay circuit.

    Johnny Dangerously (+2) — Continuing his run as a big comic star of the early eighties, Johnny Dangerously wasn’t the greatest comedy ever, but it’s weird and funny and — though aged — it was a pretty solid comedy for 1984. The pre-Goodfellas tale of a kid growing up in the ranks of the Irish mob had a lot of great gags and memorable lines, and like Mr. Mom, Keaton anchors an ensemble cast featuring Griffin Dunn, Marilu Henner and Joe Piscopo (again, super-eighties alert) with dexterity.

    Gung Ho (+1) — Gotta be honest, I was never a big Gung Ho fan, but then again I was only eleven years old in 1986, so a lot of the context was lost on me at the time. Feel free to bump this one a notch if you appreciated it more. The working-class comedy (and another Ron Howard joint) about blue-collar automotive workers facing a Japanese takeover gave Keaton the opportunity to play a bit of straight man, which would serve him later.

    Touch and Go (-1) — Keaton as a hockey star who enters a romance with Maria Conchita Alonso. File this in the same place as Surrender with Sally Field and Overboard with Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn.

    The Squeeze (-1) — A caper starring Keaton as a gambler thrust into a “web of intrigue” P.I. caper about a mysterious parcel with Rae Dawn Chong and Meat Loaf, The Squeeze saw Keaton starting to move away from silly comedies, but this one was pretty forgettable. Straight eighties, right down to Rae Dawn Chong’s involvement.

    Beetle Juice (+4) — Score big for Keaton. It’s crazy that Tim Burton, given what we know about him now, saw Keaton as the right fit for the “human exorcist” employed by Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis to rid their home of living people, but his Beetle Juice is a completely bonkers performance. As Burton’s big burst onto the scene, in 1987 there weren’t many movies like Beetle Juice, and still remains one of Burton’s weird, gothic best.

    Clean and Sober (+2) — Coming off the madcap Beetle Juice, Keaton slows it down as an in-demand real estate agent spiraling out of control with cocaine and drinking. The first big shot we get of Keaton as a serious actor, and though it seems somewhat cookie cutter in the pantheon of dramatic “alcoholic” movies of the later eighties (Clean and Sober, Barfly), Keaton’s strong performance can’t be denied — nor can his choice to stretch his legs.

    The Dream Team (+2) – …And back to screwball. Keaton plays the lead in another comic ensemble (also starring Christopher Lloyd and Peter Boyle) as a mental institution worker who decides to take some of his patients out on the town for the day. A 1989 movie that feels like it should have been made in 1983, but you can’t beat those co-stars.

    Batman (+3) — The first Burton Batman, and without question the best until Nolan came ’round. His Beetle Juice karma cashed in with the gloomy director and again Burton saw something in Keaton that no one would have thought to peg (seriously, in 1989 would you have picked this casting decision?). But Keaton’s a charming Bruce Wayne and plays the role with a great semi-comic sincerity that bounces nicely off Nicholson’s Joker.

    Pacific Heights (+2) — Following the early nineties “psycho who live in your neighborhood and are part of your life” era (Hand That Rocks the Cradle, Fatal Attraction), Keaton stars as Carter Hayes, a cockroach enthusiast and certifiable nutjob landlord to poor Matthew Modine and Melanie Griffith. It’s not great, but it works, and again our boy goes in a completely new direction.

    One Good Cop (-2) — If there’s one thing you can’t accuse Keaton of, it’s being typecast. One Good Cop isn’t a great cop movie or a particularly good movie in general, and it’s formulaic in almost every sense. But we learned one thing: Michael Keaton can play a cop. And a good one, I guess.

    Much Ado About Nothing (+3) — Note that avoiding-typecasting thing I just mentioned as Keaton takes on the incredibly incompetent constable Dogberry, chewing scenery as one of Bill Shakespeare’s middle-of-play comic scenery chewers. And directed by Kenneth Branagh, the film is also a forgotten though solid adaptation of the Bard.

    My Life (+1) – Manipulative but effective. Keaton stars as a terminally ill man preparing for his own death. If you can watch this movie without crying, I suggest you go back to Mars, alien.

    The Paper (+2) — Most people would give this movie only one point or less because it was a critical flop, but I’m going to give it two points because I think it’s a tremendously entertaining movie. Keaton teams again with director Ron Howard to ground an ensemble cast in a film about a frenzied newspaper editor trying to get a story right before printing. Actually, you know what? If you haven’t ever seen The Paper, you should watch it. It’s a good film, even if it’s a bit all over the place at times. And it’s got a great cast.

    Speechless (-1) — Geena Davis (what the hell happened to her, by the way?) and Keaton star as warring speechwriters on either sides of a political campaign. It’s a serviceable romantic comedy, I suppose, but kind of ho-hum.

    Multiplicity (+3) — Back to his old tricks as a screwball comic lead, Harold Ramis’ Groundhog Day foll0w-up Multiplicity stars Keaton as a busy inventor who clones himself to get more done. Keaton plays several roles, all variations on the same character, and Ramis made a good call picking him for the role.

    Jackie Brown (0) — I’m probably going to take a lot of flack for this, but even though I’m a big Tarantino guy, I was never a big Jackie Brown fan (I’m sorry, but with a few exceptions, I just don’t think Elmore Leonard novels make good movies). My friend Craig, however, raises the point that even though it’s not a great movie, Michael Keaton is probably one of the best small-role guys in it, which is a fair point. We’ll call this one a wash.

    Desperate Measures (-1) — Returning back to his Pacific Heights days, Keaton is a psychopathic patient holding a hospital hostage as cop Andy Garcia tries to find a donor for his son’s illness. Eh.

    Jack Frost (-3) — Creepy CGI and a creepier storyline contribute to a poor score in Keaton’s family film Jack Frost, about a dad who dies and comes back as a snowman. Kinda weird, I think you’ll agree.

    Out of Sight (+4) — Remember what I said about Elmore Leonard novels adapted into feature films? This is one of the good ones. Keaton reprises his role as detective Ray Nicolette in a great ensemble cast starring George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez (back before we realized she wasn’t all that great of an actress).

    A Shot at Glory (0) — I can’t judge this, because honestly I’d never even heard of it. But it stars Robert Duvall and Keaton in the tale of a struggling Scottish football team. Sounds interesting, though.

    Live From Baghdad (+2) — Post 9/11, Keaton stars as journalist Robert Weiner in this HBO movie about CNN reporters dealing with touchy ethical choices during the Gulf War. A TV movie that was good enough to be released in theaters, but wasn’t, so woefully fewer people saw it.

    First Daughter (-2) — A by-the-numbers family film wherein Keaton plays the President trying to reign in his daughter studying abroad. The weirdest thing about this movie is that it was made in 2004 and Katie Holmes basically plays a kid, but she would marry Tom Cruise less than two years later. Sorry, I can’t stop thinking about that weirdness when I see this movie.

    White Noise (-3) — What could have been an intriguing thriller about ghosts talking on tape recorders turns into a jump-cut “boo” movie as Keaton plays a man who thinks he’s communicating with his dead wife (spoiler alert: ghosts are evil, except in Ghost Dad). If only his wife had come back as a snowman instead.

    Herbie Fully Loaded (-3) — Oh Michael Keaton, we can’t fault you for this. After all, it was Disney, and the Herbie Franchise. It’s not your fault you couldn’t see into Lindsay Lohan’s future. Or Breckin Meyer’s, for that matter.

    Cars (+2) – Now this was a good Disney film. Much better choice, buddy.

    The Other Guys (+2) — In a movie with a lot of stuff to like, Keaton’s TLC-quoting, Bed Bath & Beyond-moonlighting police captain was one of the best.

    Toy Story 3 (+3) — In what was in all likelihood the best movie of 2010, Keaton played the duplicitous but ultimately semi-heroic Ken doll. And was pitch-perfect in an absolutely loaded cast of voice actors.


    Michael Keaton’s Overall Score: 25

    The hastily-configured scoring system:

    50 or higher: You have made a ton of fantastic movies.

    40-50: You’ve done pretty well for yourself. Good on ya.

    30-40: We still like you. But you need to pick it up a little.

    20-30: You’ve made some good movies. But probably more bad ones.

    10-20: You either lost it or you never had it.

    0-10: Many of your films are still available on VHS at an interstate truck stop.

    0 or negative points: You are comedian Jackie Mason.

    The Analysis: If you’re really looking at the Michael Keaton oeuvre, this low technical score doesn’t do the actor justice. Michael Keaton has made a lot of movies, but his lack of big-ticket Oscar types and his proclivity in the eighties to star in pretty quintessentially eighties films with quintessentially eighties co-stars (Rae Dawn Chong! Maria Conchita Alonso! Kathy Baker!) sell him tremendously short. Also, some duds more recently in his career (White Noise, Herbie Fully Loaded, Jack Frost) deliver a big hit to his numbers. When all’s said and done, I think we can all agree we love Michael Keaton and wish he’d come back. If nothing else than to take us back to a simpler time, when movies were just plain entertaining — because he made a lot of those and we didn’t have jobs, families, or shit to do when we watched them. When that was the case, Michael Keaton, you were totally our guy.


    • The Essentials: The 10 Best Michael Keaton Performances:

      The oddly arched eyebrows. The slightly wolfish grin. The constant undercurrent of manic, twitchy volatility. It may not have been until his unavoidably, undeniably brilliant turn in “Birdman” (read our review here) that we really thought too much about trying to define what we so love about Michael Keaton, but now that it’s happened, we realize that whatever it is, it is exactly what we’ve been missing for the past few years.

      Contrary to how it might feel, Keaton’s comeback has been in the works for a little while now. In fact, he makes a fascinating case study for the nature of the Hollywood career renaissance, owning that narrative this year kind of the way Matthew McConaughey did in 2013. What makes one actor, especially one getting on a bit (Keaton turned 63 in September), a fit subject for rediscovery and reestablishment in the Hollywood firmament, while others languish in bit parts and crusty old dean roles for the remainder of their working lives? Why does the fickle finger of fame swing back to point so definitively at one guy (almost always a guy, mind you) and not another? How do you get the timing right so that you’re not so off the radar that no one remembers you, and yet not so familiar that viewers don’t experience a kind of swoon of joy at your return, like an old friend who’s been away a while and must have some pretty great stories to tell us?

      One of the reasons Keaton’s revitalization is so welcome, is that we never quite had our fill. He always had an air of holding something in reserve, even in his zaniest early-career highs. There was a sense that there was more to come here, a kind of ellipsis hanging off the end of every film. But until recently, that promise seemed to have fizzled out. You thought of Keaton (when you thought of him at all) and associated him with his famous ‘80s and ’90s roles, rather than immediately linking him to anything more recent. He was brought up as a compare-and-contrast Batman to Christian Bale’s grittier, broodier, Nolan-ier take, and every now and then might be buoyed up by a temporary burst of nostalgia following a late-night TV screening of “Beetlejuice” or “Gung Ho.” Certainly during his wilderness period in the early-to-mid ’00s (family films “Herbie: Fully Loaded” and “First Daughter,” lame horror “White Noise,” and the even lamer thriller “Quicksand” being among the more ignominious of his titles from that time) it felt like he had gone off the boil, out of style somehow. The vehicles he landed did not capitalize on his inherent weirdness, and he seemed to be content to take them on as paycheck gigs.

      But following a solid but sadly underseen directorial debut with 2009’s “The Merry Gentleman,” things started to pick up. Already a Pixar alum from “Cars,” he voiced Ken in the smash hit “Toy Story 3,” and gave a brilliantly funny turn in 2010’s “The Other Guys” before netting a few more paycheck gigs, including a substantial supporting role in the much-better-than-it-has-any-right-to-be “Robocop” remake. All of this can now be seen as the extended throat clearing before “Birdman,” and the rest is history. Or at least it will be in a few years time and we look back on this period again—as much as we know it’s dangerous to predict any sure thing in the notoriously fickle world of Hollywood, we’re going to go out on a limb and state firmly that we believe that, while that role may be the culmination of all Keaton’s untapped potential to date, it’s only the beginning. Certainly, having only just got him back again, we’re not going to let him go in a hurry.

      And the future augurs well. The next firmed up role for Keaton is in Playlist favorite Thomas McCarthy’s Catholic Church sex abuse scandal drama “Spotlight,” which has all sorts of Oscar potential. To get you in the mood for “Birdman,” which you simply must see, we’ve assembled, in no particular order, ten of Michael Keaton’s best roles (and it wasn’t easy to stop at ten). We recommend going to see Iñárritu’s movie then checking out some of these again—we’ve just spent the last few days doing that and it’s been a blast.


  165. Would Michael Keaotn’s “Multiplicity” co-star, Andie MacDowell make a good “WTHHT” candidate down the line:

    Best Known For: Groundhog Day (1993), Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
    Most Recent Project: Breaking at the Edge (2013)

    After garnering media attention for her modelling, MacDowell ascended to Hollywood. Unfortunately, she wasn’t ready for the demands of acting. Her first film, Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, had to be dubbed after she couldn’t fake a British accent.

    In the wake of the failure, MacDowell threw herself into method acting, training at the Actor’s Studio, and emerged a few years later to star in Steven Soderbergh’s game-changing Sex, Lies, and Videotape. The next five years brought a string of award nominations and prestigious roles. Just as success arrived, her A-list status fell away, leaving nothing but TV movies.


    • Andie MacDowell is definitely on the list.


    • Whatever happened to Andie MacDowell?

      Do you remember her? The woman who starred in our Movie of the Week?? The girl who tangled up with Hugh Grant around funerals and weddings? The gorgeous face of care company L’Oréal? The lady with all that hair? So I ask the question… where is Andie MacDowell now?

      Andie started the early 1980s modelling for Vogue and other fancy companies when a billboard and tv advert campaign for Calvin Klein gained her début experience into film with Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (a mouthful in itself). Alas because of her southern accent, her face may have appeared in the film, her voice did not and was re-dubbed by Glenn Close (you remember her – Cruella DeVille?)

      At the end of the 80s, Andie was filmed by Steven Soderbergh in his independent picture Sex, Lies, and Videotapes. She starred alongside James Spader, who played Graham who filmed women discussing their sexual fantasies. The film won the Palme d’Or at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival and shot Andie into stardom with her first flurry of independent awards (and a few nominations to boot too).

      The 1990s saw Andie become a romantic interest, coming side by side with the likes of Bruce Willis, Gérard Depardieu and Michael Keaton. But this period also saw Andie become a shining star in Hollywood, with such romantic films as Groundhog Day and Four Weddings and a Funeral.

      With Groundhog Day she starred opposite Bill Murray, a man who keeps having the same day reoccur over and over again in a hope that he’ll see tomorrow someday. But it was when Andie jumped over the water to play opposite Hugh Grant that she made her last big box office success.

      Written by Richard Curtis, Four Weddings and a Funeral paired the beauty of Andie with Hugh Grant, at the time British’s hottest hunk. Grossing over £155 million in worldwide box office sales, this was the last Andie would ever reach these kinds of figures. The film also was big for Wet, Wet, Wet with their cover of “Love is all around”.

      Since then she starred opposite Michael Keaton in Multiplicity, a bizarre film about a man who clones himself several times, she even appeared with the Muppets on two occassions, but nothing would spark interest anymore. She moved onto other pastures appearing in odd episodes of TV shows such as The Practice, 30 Rock and a few TV movies and independent pictures. But nothing would align her back to Hollywood.

      So where is she now? She still does some campaigns with L’Oréal, and even though her short TV stint with Jane by Design in 2012 got 18 episodes, it was cancelled by the studios. Andie is currently doing another pilot for a new TV series called Cedar Cove on the Hallmark Channel, based on the popular book series by Debbie Macomber, so who knows, we might not see her on the big screen soon but the little screen, maybe this year??


  166. Craig Hansen

    I’ve long been a fan of Michael Keaton, ever since his scene-stealing role in Night Shift, which really was a great debut for him. Looking back over his career, he really did have a lot of terriffic films to his career. I’ve always thought Multiplicity was highly underrated. I remember seeing it opening weekend to a packed audience when it came out, and the movie played extraordinarily well, eliciting laughter from the packed audience throughout. I walked out thinking from the positive reaction from the audience it was going to be a hit, then I was surprised when I saw the box office numbers come in, where it underperformed unfortunately. I’ve seen it a few times over the years since, it still holds up well I think. It turned out to be his last worthwhile comedy as a leading man, though I did enjoy his supporting roles in The Other Guys and Toy Story 3 quite a bit.


    • I had the same experience with Multiplicity. Keaton gives a great comic performance in an okay movie. I really expected it to be a return to form for him and was surprised when that didn’t happen. He was probably my favorite thing in The Other Guys and Toy Story 3. Voice-over work seems to suit him well, so hopefully he will keep working with Pixar.


  167. Is Michael Keaton Going Through A Career Resurgence?

    Twice in one week I have heard or read Michael Keaton’s name in two separate stories. This must be some sort of record for the 2000s, which have seen very little of Keaton. Late last week it was announced he would take over as the lead villain in the Robocop remake. Now it seems he is directing his second film, an indie titled Buttercup. I don’t know about you, but any mention of Michael Keaton getting back to work – more importantly, back to promising work – is good news.

    Keaton has never reached the heights of some of his peers as a star, but it isn’t because he is not a wonderful actor. He simply made some bad choices along the way, like Jack Frost and White Noise and, well, the list is painfully long. But there are those Michael Keaton performances out there where you can really see the range and the versatility of Keaton’s acting. I say bring on a new side to Keaton’s career as an older actor. If Matthew McConaughey can turn things around the way he has, I have faith that Keaton can do the same.

    Keaton was made famous starring as Batman in Tim Burton’s franchise kick-starter. But he had some wonderful roles leading up to the Bat Suit, one showing his comedic timing and energy (Mr. Mom), and another showing his ability to draw us into a dramatic role (Clean and Sober). then there was Beetlejuice, something wildly different than the other two films, or any films for that matter. When Keaton donned the cape and cowl he had been somewhat established, but playing the crusader opened up doors in his career. The only problem was, Keaton chose the wrong doors to walk through more times than not.

    Some of his follow-up films to Batman weren’t as popular or as well received in general. But there are still good performances in films like One Good Cop, Pacific Heights (as corny as the film may ultimately be), and especially the Ron Howard ensemble dramedy, The Paper. Keaton’s small turn in Much Ado About Nothing, playing Dogberry, showed he could truly slip into just about any role. Whatever the case may have been with his mediocre box office returns and middling films, they were never bad because of him. Keaton could bounce from straight comedy in the wildly underrated Multiplicity right into a solid supporting part in Tarantino’s Jackie Brown, playing DEA Agent Ray Nicolette. But then Jack Frost happened, and his career would never be the same.

    Jack Frost is a strange, boring, all-around terrible movie no matter what age you may be. Ever since this 1998 debacle, Keaton has slipped to the back row of the stars, flailing about in a Disney Herbie remake (playing the stock Disney father because Dennis Quaid must have been busy), to the bland thriller White Noise, and a whole group of movies that never found an audience. But Hollywood is cyclical for actors like Keaton, and his name starting popping up a few years ago. 2010 saw him play Ken in Toy Story 3 and Captain Mauch in the solid summer comedy The other Guys. And now, we have word he is directing his second film and taking over as the bad guy in Robocop. I say there is nothing wrong with more Michael Keaton. He is a special actor – even in the worst movies most of the time -and can slip into any tone of any type of film. Just look at the range he showed when he had his eyes on the right roles.


  168. Great article… him and miss his work….maybe he will have a comebavk like travolta…….he was out for a long time …..then reappeared.


  169. 14 Scifi and Fantasy Movies That Killed Actors’ Careers:

    5) Michael Keaton, Batman

    It might not be fair to say Batman and Batman Returns killed Michael Keaton’s career, but it did mortally wound it. You have to understand, Keaton was one of the biggest stars of the ‘80s, starring in a ton of hits like Clean and Sober, Beetlejuice, Mr. Mom, and more. And Batman and Batman Returns were hits, and Keaton did well in both of them… and then he had a clone comedy called Multiplicitly that went nowhere… and a bit part in Jackie Brown… and then he was a talking snowman in the sub-straight-to-video movie Jack Frost, a mere six years later. He’s done a little bit of work here and there, but for some reason Batman Returns remains his last major role and hit.


    • Some responding comments to this particular list regarding Michael Keaton’s inclusion:

      lightninglouie > Rob Bricken
      Michael Keaton was one of the great instinctual comedians of his generation, right up there with Bill Murray. In retrospect his casting as Batman was a profound misstep, both for the franchise and his career. Today 11:30am

      GrestchVox > Rob Bricken
      To be fair, I’d say it was Multiplicitly that killed Keaton’s career. If his follow ups to Batman had been good he would have survived. Today 10:29am

      OmegaLazarus > Rob Bricken
      As far as Micheal Keaton, I think there was another factor.

      I was younger, but I recall there being a sort of money dispute that started with the second movie and carried over. From what I remember Keaton wanted what others thought was way too much money to continue as Batman after the first one. So, there may have been a sort of blackballing after that or even a self-imposed dry spell as a sort of petulant reaction by him.

      I should clarify that I like his work and don’t want to think of him as an ass, but am just restating what I recall. Maybe someone more in the know can expand on or crush this idea. Today 11:05am

      vidvamp01 > Rob Bricken
      Movie careers are all about making the studios big money, not leveraging an actors talent for artistic reasons.

      The film industry is youth obsessed. Most contemporary blockbuster actors are not necessarily cast with good actors as much as they are just young, fit, attractive in some fashion, and can fake a cry.

      I think the people who lost their careers were not superior to those who did not. They just starred in a movie that, for miscellaneous and often arbitrary reasons, not enough people wanted to see to make the movie effectively profitable.

      On the aside, I do not agree that these movies ruined careers. What I actually think is that their social skills, and their choices of prior and subsequent acting roles ruined their careers. Every one of these actor has done stuff prior to and after these movies. Their every role choice along the way informs the judgement in casting.

      Kristen Kreuk would have done well to not take the part in street fighter. That is probably the one movie in this whole set that would most objectively ruin careers.

      Jake Lloyd probably should have had some acting coaching on set. We will probably not ever see him on screen again.

      Lori Petty was still a bit of a character actor, so Tank Girl probably seemed like a big break for her. The comic was popular, and well done, but the movie was not exactly faithful to the source material and disappointed fans. But, she did a good job, and made the movie entertaining in her own way.

      In the case of Sean Connery, for decades he was simply James Bond.

      For Kevin Costner, he was just in Man of Steel, being the same dead pan character he has always played. There is nothing new to see from this one-note actor. So as far as his career being ruined, if his bad acting did not do it, I doubt that there is anything that will ever keep him from working.

      For Mark Hamill he was Luke Skywalker, until he became the animated voice of the Joker. He was excellent as the Joker, the Trickster, and as the Cock Knocker. He is a great character actor, and has some wonderful cameos, but he just needed to play more varied characters. His return to Star Wars is a conceit that he is Luke Skywalker, and so be it.

      For Michael Keaton, he was seen as a comedic actor, and Batman was a wild departure. The for movie was excellent version of the Batman character, and it was well received for it. What Michael Keaton did with his career afterwards was of his own construction.

      For Hayden Christensen, Star Wars was his first high profile role, and it was a perfect storm of bad acting choices, bad script, and bad direction that made him so annoying to watch that it tainted his appearances in other roles.

      For Brandon Routh, his first high profile roles was a recast sequel to the long abandoned Christopher Reeve’s Superman movies. The Actor recasting in the same continuity does not always work like it does for James Bond and Dr Who. That and the story was not terrible, just unpopular.

      For Chris O’Donnell and Alicia Silverstone were still upstarts, Batman and Robin had to seem like the big break they wanted. It was still a bad choice. Today 11:09am

      LemurLad > Rob Bricken
      Thing about Keaton is, there weren’t any huge glaring problems with Multiplicity, it just was simultaneously too similar and not as good as Groundhog Day. He was locked in the Bill Murray comparison death spiral, and you can’t pull out of that.

      I think you should have put James Marsden on your list. Today 11:24am

      Cat VonAwesome > Rob Bricken
      I think Multiplicity is the sci-fi movie that ruined Michael Keaton, not Batman itself.

      For further discussion of Mark Hamill feel free to call my mom who has not stopped talking about how that accident ruined Mark Hamill’s career for thirty years now. Anytime Star Wars comes up. Today 10:48am

      kaspe_r > Rob Bricken
      Really have to disagree with Michael Keaton. If anything, it was multiplicity that killed his career. After the Batman movies he still had another big hit…My Life with Nicole Kidman.

      It was after My Life that he went in to star in The Paper, Multiplicity, Speechless and Desperate Measures. Today 10:22am

      HeartBurnKid > Rob Bricken
      Shouldn’t Multiplicity be the sci-fi movie that killed Michael Keaton’s career, and not Batman? I mean, everybody was looking to see what he was going to do after Batman, and then it turned out to be THAT. And it has cloning, it counts as sci-fi.

      Oh, and the only good thing to come out of Waterworld is the stunt show at the Universal Studios theme parks. Seriously, that thing is awesome. Today 10:51am

      narffet > Rob Bricken
      Keaton was hilarious in The Other Guys. But you’re not wrong, it was quite a dry spell between it and Multiplicity and his double shift as Batman. Though his role in TOG was a supporting role (but also a prominent one).

      Guess there’s still a lot of talent in him, just needing the right outlet. Today 11:15am

      Wax-tadpole > Rob Bricken
      I think Keaton pretty much just walked away after Batman Returns. He’s probably got enough money that he can act only when he wants. Today 12:48pm


      • JinDenver > Rob Bricken
        See, I think Keaton was just out of time. Correlation does not equal causation (obviously) But I think it was just time for new stars. 1993 and 1994 (the years after Batman Returns) we got movies like Forrest Gump, Shawshank, the Lion King, Pulp Fiction, Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, Philadelphia, and more. We’d just simply moved on to other actors.

        As far as the likes of Denise Richards, Alicia Silverstone, Hayden Christensen, Brandon Routh and even Kristen Kreuk to some extent: they were awful at their craft. They were/are horrid, horrid actors who simply stopped getting shots at films. And with good reason! It just so happened that these movies were among their last. Today 2:00pm

        IkeReece > Rob Bricken
        I heard someone on NPR say that Michael Keaton walked away from the Batman franchise after the second movie, for whatever reason (artistic I guess, definitely not monetary) and that Hollywood has been punishing him ever since. A lot of powerful people pissed at him for not continuing in such a successful series(??)….anyone else hear that? Today 5:41pm


        • I get the notion that Michael pissed a lot of the powers that be off when he walked away from the Batman franchise because 1) It gave them the notion that he couldn’t be bought even though he likely wouldn’t have had the increased exposure/opportunities he presumably enjoyed w/o Batman. 2) People automatically assumed that he fully or blindly supported/agreed w/ Tim Burton’s more controversial vision w/ “Batman Returns” (as if Burton was the end-all-be-all creative voice for Batman). 3) Michael’s successor, Val Kilmer allegedly proved to be an even greater headache and thus, he indirectly helped set the stage for the very worst Batman movie, “Batman & Robin”, w/ George Clooney taking over the cape and cowl.


  170. 10 Promising Film Careers that Stalled:

    5. Michael Keaton

    Michael Keaton made his way into the A list of after playing the title role in Tim Burton’s classic Beetlejuice and then he went on to cement his position after starring in Batman and Batman Returns. His portrayal of the superhero won him legions of fans and he was in high demand throughout the 90s.

    But a combination of so-so film choices and a decision to scale down his workload in order to concentrate on his family stunted his once flourishing career.


    • Batman Before And After: How The Batsuit Can Change Or Ruin Careers:

      Michael Keaton – Tim Burton’s Batman and Batman Returns
      Before Batman: Throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s, Keaton rose to stardom in a variety of comedies that proved his worth as the everyman who could deliver lines with biting wit and pull off any physical comedy with aplomb. He co-starred with Jim Belushi in the short-lived series Working Stiffs, he starred in Ron Howard’s Gung Ho and Night Shift, and he absolutely killed it in Amy Heckerling’s 1930s throwback Johnny Dangerously. (Not that it’s hard to look amazing next to Joe Piscopo.) Even in something like Mr. Mom, it’s Keaton’s performance that saves what otherwise would have been a tepid commercial comedy.

      When Tim Burton cast him for his macabre 1988 comedy Beetlejuice, it seemed like an odd pick, but ended up being one of the better decisions of Burton’s career. The bizarre and over-the-top antics combined with that gravelly voice make it one of Keaton’s most memorable roles, even though he’s only on screen for a little over 17 minutes. And it’s this performance that gave Burton the confidence that Keaton would be perfect as another costumed character of the night.

      As Batman: While it was of course a shock to see Keaton replace the warm smiles with a brooding blankness, his performance as both the Bat and Bruce Wayne stunned the naysaying masses, rendering their previous complaints useless. In both of Burton’s films, Keaton turns out what are arguably the two of the best dramatic performances of his career, causing people to forget the slapsticky 1960s TV show and returning their attention to the comic franchise that spawned the character. It would be quite a while before we got another Batman that could realistically answer the question “Why so serious?”

      After Batman: It’s a shame that so much of Keaton’s later career was spent in lackluster thrillers like Desperate Measures and White Noise, although his directorial debut The Merry Gentleman, which he also starred in, was enjoyable enough. Appearances in Jackie Brown and The Other Guys prove that Keaton is still very much in control of his comedic talents, so I can’t wait to see him in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s upcoming ensemble comedy Birdman, even if it means having to watch him in the Robocop reboot and the Need for Speed video game adaptation too.


    • I hope that I’m not repeating myself, but I think what hurt Michael’s career post-“Batman” was that it seemed like he was trying to hard to be a traditional leading man (which in return, nullified all that was interesting/fascinating about him) so to speak. I recall saying that Michael spent too long focusing on just being a dramatic actor. I’m not necessarily faulting Michael Keaton for wanting to grow and expand as an actor (like for example Tom Hanks or Robin Williams, who were also known mostly as comedic actors). Let’s put it this way however, unlike say Tom Hanks, Michael Keaton never had his “Philadelphia” (meaning a true “dramatic breakthrough” so to speak).

      Michael I think strayed way too far of what he perhaps did best (i.e. a somewhat manic and/or eccentric, everyman) at the height of his success and notoriety. What really didn’t help in retrospect, ironically, is that Michael’s most successful roles (Beetlejuice and Batman) were ones that didn’t properly give him a lot of face time (since he was other in heavy make-up or wearing a mask). By the time, he tried to go back to “his roots” w/ “Multiplicity”, the much of the general public had already moved on. What really didn’t help was that Michael no longer had a major blockbuster franchise like Batman to fall back on and help gravitate people towards his other projects.


  171. 8 Michael Keaton Movies That Remind You He IS Batman:

    Michael Keaton continues to have a conspicuously versatile career. He consistently explores new territory, not only through the characters he plays but also through branching out into other production roles like directing. Part of the reason he is able to do this seems to be because rather than jumping at every offer that has likely come his way, Keaton seems to have the opportunity to be very particular about what movies he appears in. He continues to have a strong presence whenever he does show up on-screen, in good movies and in bad. Although he has his own signature stylistic preferences, he frequently changes up the overall timing, voice, and tone in many of his performances.

    He’s a great part of movies.

    But despite all of this, there is an elephant in the room—one might call it another presence in the darkness of the screening room. In many of Michael Keaton’s movies, elements have a tendency to coalesce and remind us of a greater legacy, distracting us from the goal of just enjoying his movies for what they are and properly appreciating Keaton’s body of work. It’s a legacy that has been somewhat transferred to Christian Bale in recent years, but always comes back to Keaton in the end—Batman.

    Sure, Hollywood is a small club, and at the rate things are going now, all of its members will one day have participated in one superhero movie or another, but even today, a superhero film is never the most mainstream thing on the boulevard. Yet Michael Keaton has appeared in numerous movies with cast and crew from other Batman movies in particular, both before and after his role as the Caped Crusader. Some of the combinations seem just too much to be coincidences or networking. Do these intersections represent destiny? Will all the machinations of Hollywood ultimately lead to direct connections to Batman and Michael Keaton? Maybe Batman movies can’t live without Keaton. Or maybe Keaton’s presence is the equivalent of cosmic rays, attracting and creating new members of not just a Batman, but a superhero, fraternity.

    In any case, it’s exactly like how Christian Bale’s Batman just can’t get rid of a bomb.

    Keaton’s upcoming movie Birdman will be a major statement on this phenomenon, as it outright embraces exploring this legacy and audience perception of it.

    So without further delay, click “next” for 8 uncanny accidental Batman sequels and/or superhero crossovers starring Michael Keaton.

    NOTE: I could have also put One Good Cop, Post Grad, and Porco Rosso on here, but:

    1. For the sake of humanity, I don’t want to explore the Batman link between Michael Keaton and Benjamin Bratt. Explore that at your own risk!

    2. Although J.K. Simmons is probably very excellent in Post Grad, I don’t want to write about that movie at this time.

    3. I don’t even know how to do justice to all the Batman voices starring alongside Keaton in Porco Rosso.


    Bad Director, Diva & Grinch
    … Says Lawsuit

    Michael Keaton’s alter ego ain’t Batman anymore … it’s Hollywood D-bag — this according to movie producers who claim Keaton’s diva antics torpedoed their Christmastime flick.

    Keaton is being sued by Merry Gentleman, LLC — a production company that claims it sunk more than $4 million to make “The Merry Gentleman” … which Keaton both directed and starred in.

    In the suit, filed in federal court in Illinois, M.G. claims Keaton was a total pain in the ass from the moment production began in 2007.

    First example — M.G. claims they put time, energy and money into building an editing facility for Keaton in California … and once it was set up, Keaton decided to go on a fly-fishing trip to Montana. M.G claims Keaton forced the production company to build another editing facility in MT, so he could work and play at the same time.

    Second example — M.G. claims Keaton slacked on the directing duties at first … and he knew it … because he personally told producers his first cut was a piece of crap.

    According to the suit, producers decided to cut their own version of the movie … and when Keaton found out, he flipped — threatening to use his connections to have the movie pulled from the 2008 Sundance Film Festival unless they agreed to run one of Keaton’s versions instead.

    Producers conceded … but M.G. claims Keaton’s diva antics continued … because when it came time to promote the film on “GMA,” Keaton was less than enthusiastic about the movie.

    The flick eventually bombed in theaters — raking in less than $350k … and producers are pointing the finger solely at Keaton.

    M.G. is suing for unspecified damages — likely in the millions. Calls to Keaton’s camp have not been returned.


  173. Beetlejuice sequel gaining traction finally? Lots of noise in the press recently about Tim Burton in talks to direct, and Michael Keaton interested. This could potentially affect three of the WTHH entries here (Keaton, Ryder, Davis)… any thoughts? If Burton and Keaton really are on board, I’ll definitely give the sequel the benefit of the doubt.


    • There’s been a lot of noise. But I’m not holding my breath on this one. Keaton and Burton have busy schedules. Even if a script were ready – which is not the case – it would be years before we would see a Beetlejuice sequel.


  174. 10 Excruciating Films That Ruined Your Image Of Batman Actors:

    5. Keaton Plays A Vigilante Again – One Good Cop

    If One Good Cop’s storyline sounds familiar, it’s probably because it bears certain uncanny, and unhelpful similarities with Batman. It has orphans to a murdered parent, dirty cops and a vigilante played by Michael Keaton, who goes Robin Hood on criminals (though this time it’s to pay for a new house, and to give some cash to charity.)

    There are differences of course – Keaton does’t wear a cape, or have a high-tech cave full of gadgets, and he has to balance his crime-fighting with a difficult family life centred on looking after the kids of his dead partner.

    It sort of boils down to the question of how Batman would cope if he had three kids to look after, and if Commissioner Gordon was the least understanding cop in the world.

    The problem here is that the film sort of trades on Keaton’s association with the Batman property: he was once a vigilante taking from the bad guys and protecting the good, and fans could have been tempted towards One Good Cop under a similar, false pretense. For that mistake, they were rewarded with a bland melodrama that mishandled its talents, and reduced an intriguing story into something almost entirely unwatchable.

    The Low Point

    Realising that the Robin Hood vigilante premise doesn’t really work with all of the emotional backage that would traditionally categorise a day time cable movie.


    • 10 Excruciating Films That Ruined Your Image Of Batman Actors:

      9. Keaton’s Cool Goes Too Far – Jack Frost

      Christmas films often get an easy ride, partly because showing a Christmas tree against the backdrop of snow is deeply evocative, and partly because everyone spends a good portion of the three weeks they are traditionally aired inebriated from over-strong Egg Nog and morning time Mulled Wine.

      But there are some that don’t deserve the protection.

      Jack Frost is one of Michael Keaton’s unfortunately characteristic dips in form (more of which later) that combine with the exceptional films he has made to make his career trajectory look like a particularly perilous rollercoaster. Not only is the film dripping with manipulative sentimentality (which somehow allows it a special romantic status, despite the fact that it is horribly mean-spirited and nightmarish) it also features the most repulsive creature in Hollywood history, to paraphrase Roger Ebert.

      And therein lies the issue – for as iconic and engaging as Beetlejuice and Batman were for Keaton, Jack Frost was the ultimate counter-point. He’s a sickly-sweet personification of good humanity, inadequate fatherhood and chocolate box sentimentality, wrapped up in a marhsmallowy body, and the whole sorry affair threatens to destroy Keaton’s infinite cool as Batman, despite the casting of three of Frank Zappa’s children.

      The Low Point

      It’s either when you realise that you haven’t picked up the horror movie of the same title, which at least self-consciously embraces how awful it is, or when you find yourself bawling by the end, manipulated by the ladles of sugar and Hallmark card emotion into really feeling.


  175. Here is my Question: WTHH to posting a link, instead of cutting and pasting huge swathes of internet chat boards to every single WTHH article?


  176. I would love love to see Michael Keaton back on the screen again. his talent is still there. He is from Pittsburgh Pa. and so am I. I sure would love see him come back and win a Oscar !.


  177. The Mother Brain Files Underrated Actors Special: Michael Keaton:

    I find it very hard to believe that it was 22 years ago when Tim Burton’s Batman hit the big screen. I was 5 years old at the time and I remember seeing all the bat symbol logos at movie theaters, bus stops, Times Square, etc. I even collected the first set of toys when they hit shelves. What I was not aware of at the time was the controversy surrounding the actor who was playing the title character and his name was Michael Keaton.

    Of course Batman made Michael Keaton an international superstar in 1989; however, his career has been that of a journeyman actor always looking for a new challenge. Whether it’s comedy, drama, or even a superhero flick, Keaton demonstrates a discipline in his work that makes his performances so memorable. Perhaps that explains his hit or miss track record as far as box office is concerned. Having just turned 60 years old this year, he may well be in line for a comeback very soon.

    Michael John Douglas was born in Coraopolis, PA in 1951 and was the youngest of seven children. His blue collar, Catholic family would live in the Robinson Township where Keaton was raised and was a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He attended Kent State where he studied speech only to drop out, move to Pittsburgh, and take a stab at stand-up comedy. When his stand-up career went nowhere, Keaton landed a job as a television camera operator at a local Pittsburgh station which gave him the spark to go in front of the cameras rather than stay behind it.

    Among some of Keaton’s earliest appearances included a role as one of the “Flying Zucchini Brothers” on Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood where he also worked as a production assistant. Then in the late 1970s, he moved out to Hollywood when due to SAG rules, he had to change his name since there were two famous actors with the name Michael Douglas. He would read an engaging article on Godfather actress Diane Keaton that ultimately led to changing his last name to Keaton. He had planned to eventually change it but never did.

    Keaton landed a number of guest spots on major primetime shows before landing his first but short-lived sitcom Working Stiffs opposite James Belushi in 1979. But stardom in movies came around with Ron Howard’s 1982 comedy romp Night Shift. Keaton played the wild-man morgue attendant Bill Blazejowski who starts a prostitution business with his insecure ex-Wall Street stockbroker co-worker played by Happy Days’ Henry Winkler. Critics responded unanimously to Keaton’s infectious comedic energy on screen and was the kind of living cartoon persona that preceded most of Jim Carrey’s earlier films.

    Knowing that the Blazejowski role could cause him to be typecast, Keaton sought after different kinds of comedic roles including Mr. Mom, Johnny Dangerously, and Gung Ho. His turns in darker comedies like Touch and Go and The Squeeze, however, went without a trace. Then in 1988, Keaton was cast in the title role of Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice. The horror comedy about a ghost helping and manipulating a dead couple into forcing a living family out of their home was the first signature Burton film with its unique production design and macabre-looking characters. But for the 17 minutes of screen-time that he spends in the film, Keaton was electric and deceptive at the same. It would be his most favorite performance:

    ““I wanted him to be pure electricity, that’s why the hair just sticks out. At my house I started creating a walk and a voice. I got some teeth. I wanted to be scary in the look and then use the voice to add a dash of goofiness that, in a way, would make it even scarier. I wanted something kind of moldy to it, too. Tim (Burton) had the striped-suit idea and we added the big eyes. I think that movie will go forever because it’s 100% original.”

    On the heels of Beetlejuice’s success, Keaton would work with Burton again as the Dark Knight himself in 1989’s Batman.

    Initially, the announcement of Keaton’s casting drew a firestorm of controversy among long time fans of the character who judged him for his comedic efforts and thought it would be another camped-up adaptation like the 1960’s Adam West series (Of course most people overlooked Keaton’s dramatic turn as a recovering cocaine addict in 1988’s Clean and Sober). But to everyone’s surprise at the time of Batman’s release, Keaton became the Bruce Wayne/Batman that was inspired by Frank Miller’s 1986 Dark Knight Returns comic series.

    While the more recent series of films starring Christian Bale are more sophisticated and grounded in reality, the 1989 Batman film worked on several levels which included Keaton’s performance. He had the look of an everyman as Bruce Wayne, mysterious without extroverting his playboy status. One look at him on the street and he’s the last guy you’d believe as the Dark Knight. Of course Keaton had the advantage of stuntmen in costume for the action scenes; however, whenever we saw Keaton in the costume, his eyes alone revealed the darkness inside him and his brooding voice was quietly natural without being over the top as Bale would do in the Christopher Nolan-directed series.

    After Batman made him an international superstar, Keaton would play another dark role as a sinister con artist terrorizing the lives of Matthew Modine and Melanie Griffith in 1990’s Pacific Heights. Then he turned 180 degrees as a hero cop supporting his dead partner’s children in 1991’s One Good Cop. Although Keaton won critical praise for his performances, the public still could not shake the image of Batman and neither film got close to its success. Keaton was so identified with the role that young kids would go crazy when they saw him on other film sets.

    Keaton immediately returned as the Dark Knight in 1992’s Batman Returns which pit him against Danny DeVito’s Penguin and Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman. But at that point, Keaton felt as if he was impersonating his earlier outing as Batman with lacking character development. Despite the film’s success, he felt discouraged by the harsh public and studio reaction to Burton’s more dark direction which lead to Burton being ousted from the series and ultimately Keaton’s departure from the role.

    Without Batman, Keaton tried to return to his character actor roots with roles ranging from Dogberry in Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing, a dying husband in My Life, media journalists in The Paper and Speechless (which also co-starred Superman’s Christopher Reeve), a serial killer in Desperate Measures, and a man who clones himself in Multiplicity. None of these films were successful and even his role as a dead dad-turned-snowman in Jack Frost was a far cry from the $50 million he was offered for Batman Forever.

    In 1997, Keaton landed a significant role as ATF Agent Ray Nicolette in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown, an adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel. While not extremely memorable, he would reprise the role in a cameo for another Leonard adaptation, Out of Sight, in 1998. Afterwords, Keaton mostly appeared in forgettable movies like White Noise and Herbie: Fully Loaded.

    By 2010, comedy helped to get Keaton back on the a-list beginning with his voiceover work as a living Ken doll in Toy Story 3 and reprised the part in the Pixar short, Hawaiian Vacation, which was screened with Cars 2. Then there was the part of Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell’s TLC quoting captain in the buddy cop comedy, The Other Guys.

    Even now at 60 years old, the future remains promising for Michael Keaton. He’s rumored to be working with Tim Burton again not only in a remake of Burton’s Disney short, Frankenweenie, but he also seriously interested in reprising his role as Beetlejuice in a possible sequel currently in development. Despite his years of huge success and movie stardom, Keaton still remains that blue-collar Pittsburgh guy who enjoys the Pirates, the Steelers, and saltwater fishing.


  178. I just recently watched Night Shift again, for the first time in many years. I forgot how entertaining, funny, and downright charming the movie is. Michael Keaton just steals the show. Every scene he’s in has you laughing. A revelation. Yet, It’s easy to overlook Henry Winkler when you have a scene stealer like Keaton, but I’m really impressed by Winkler’s work in Night Shift. Of course the entire world knew him as The Fonz, the epitome of cool, but he gets to display a different set of comedic skills in this film; a shame he was typecast as Fonzie to the point no one else would hire him for anything, because he showed he was no one-trick pony here. I was even surprised, looking Winkler’s career up on IMDB, that despite the respectable success of Night Shift, he would not appear in another theatrical film until 1995’s Scream, and even that was just a small cameo.

    Ron Howard, too, made his first impression as a director with Night Shift. This, along with his follow-up Splash, an even bigger success, showcased he had a knack early on for winning romantic comedies. I kind of wish he would try another one of those again, but then again nobody really makes charming romantic comedies like those anymore, nowadays every comedy has to have crude humor to sell. Ironically Night Shift’s comedy centered around prositution yet there isn’t much in the way of naughty or bawdy humor, certainly no nudity or swearing. Winkler falls for Shelly Long, a hooker with a heart of gold that looks like the girl next door. It’s about as family-friendly as a comedy can get while still centering around the world’s oldest profession. It’s still a gem.


    • Either you watched a sanitized version of Night Shift or you missed a few things. There is indeed some nudity, language and bawdy humor. Just probably not as much as one would expect given the subject matter. In the end, the movie’s sweetness wins out. I’m a big fan of Night Shift and especially Keaton’s performance in it. As you say, he was a revelation. Winkler and Long are also very winning. I’ve been batting around Long as a WTHH candidate for a while now. I’d like to get to her soon. People forget what a viable movie career she had for a while there post Cheers.


  179. Craig Hansen

    Shelly Long is the queen of actors leaving a hit tv series in an ill-fated attempt to become a major movie star. I for one would enjoy a Shelly Long write-up. Just don’t forget to include the Brady Bunch movies from the mid-90’s! They actually were entertaining and serve as the only real hit movies she had after leaving Cheers…. even if they did come a whole decade after leaving Cheers.


    • She had a pretty successful movie career on the side while she was still on Cheers. But it really did fall apart once she left the show. Which is a shame because the Sam/Diane story was really used up by then. Long leaving Cheers added life to the show and wounded her career.


      • Craig Hansen

        I agree with you 100% about Shelley Long leaving the show adding years to the shelf-life of Cheers, that’s something I’ve thought about as well. Don’t get me wrong, she was wonderful on the show, but I think the Sam/Diane central story would’ve run its course after a couple more years. The addition of Kirstie Alley (along with Woody Harrelson) brought fresh blood to the show and added years to its life, I think. Cheers had already become immensely popular during Long’s run, but it went on to even greater success afterwards: in its 9th season, Cheers was the #1 tv show in the ratings for 1990-1991. I just don’t think that would’ve happened if Long had stayed on, again no disrespect to her.

        A somewhat similar thing happened to another popular 80’s sitcom, Three’s Company. Whereas Long left Cheers on her own terms, Suzanne Somers was booted off the show for excessive demands. By the end of Somers’ run, the show was getting a bit tired and the ratings were starting to slip, if Somers had stayed on I think the show would’ve petered out. New cast additions helped give the show new blood and life, and it rose in the ratings and stayed on a few more years. Shelley Long and Suzanne Somers’ departures inadvertently helped their shows stay successful for more years, I think.


        • Totally agree. Which isn’t all that surprising since you were agreeing with me in the first place. 😉

          I prefer the Diane years to the Rebecca years. The show felt a little classier and more sophisticated. But after several seasons of “will they or won’t they”, there was nowhere left to go. That story-line had run out of juice. The same thing happened to Moonlighting. You can only drag that kind of romantic tension on for so long. The Office had a similar thing with Jim and Pam. But they were able to shift the focus to the rest of the ensemble once Jim and Pam had their “happily ever after”.

          With Alley, the focus shifted away from the central romance and onto the goofier antics of the ensemble. The who changed. I wouldn’t say for the better. But it became more of a workplace comedy like The Office which is more sustainable than a Moonlighting-style comedy/drama.

          Speaking of Cheers, I’ll be seeing ol’ Cliffy himself (John Ratzenberger) in a week and a half at Star Wars Weekend in Disney World. Just thought I’d throw that out there. 😉


        • Craig Hansen

          Hey, that’s pretty cool! I’m a huge Star Wars fan myself. The Original Star Wars trilogy were some of the biggest movies of all time, yet John Ratzenberger is the only cast member from those three movies to have any real success outside of Ford, Hamill, Fisher, despite the fact that Ratzenberger just had a small role as a rebel in Empire Strikes Back. Empire, Cheers, all of the Pixar movies (he’s the only actor to appear in every Pixar movie to date), even a cameo in the first two Superman movies….. yep he’s done pretty well for himself.


        • Yeah, he’s done all right. And by all accounts, a swell guy. He plays on the Pixar softball team. He also had a show on Travel Channel for a while.

          If I want to meet Cliffy face to face, it would require lining up in the wee hours of the morning. That’s not going to happen. But I will smile and wave as he passes by in a car during the parade portion. There’s also a talk show-style show we could attend. By the wife and kids would kill me if I used our theme park time for a Star Wars-themed talk show. So that also will not happen. But I did sign us up for a VIP dessert party which apparently includes a swag bag that will have “autographed” pictures of all the guests.

          The following weekend, Mark Hamill is going to be there. As well as Billy Dee Williams. On the one hand, kind of bummed I missed the big SW celebs by a week. On the other, glad I’m going to miss the crowds that will come with them.

          Also, I will be eating one of these.


    • She didn’t fit in with the rest of the Cheers cast. But I’m not sure that is such a bad thing. The Cheers cast was a fraternity.


  180. Agreed, the BB movies were excellent satire and entertaining in their own right. Much better for Long’s career than say Troop Beverly Hills and other bombs!


  181. Mark Hamill, in the flesh!?
    Nothing will ever beat the original Star Wars trilogy.


    • Yes, it is his first Star Wars Weekend appearance. Disney and Star Wars fans are going nuts. That weekend will likely be a madhouse.

      The weekend I am there the two big draws are Ratzenberger and Ray Park (aka Darth Maul). I think most of the other guests are voice actors on various Star Wars cartoons like The Clone Wars and the up-coming show, Rebels. I have seen some of their presentations on You Tube. I have to say that even though these guys aren’t big stars, they give really interesting presentations. The guy who plays Obi Wan Kenobi on the cartoon does a lot of different cartoon voices. Park does a martial arts exhibition. Really cool stuff.

      But for Star Wars starpower, it’s hard to beat Luke and Lando.


  182. Trailer Tracker: Will Birdman mark the return of Michael Keaton?

    Not since 2008, when The Wrestler promised the second coming of Mickey Rourke, has a simple movie trailer stirred such hope for a career renaissance. The picture in question is Birdman, and the actor is Michael Keaton, a.k.a. Batman.

    Granted, Keaton’s caped crusading days are more than 20 years and three-and-a-half Batmen ago. He donned the cowl for Batman in 1989 and Batman Returns in 1992. Since then, he’s been succeeded (if not always surpassed) by Val Kilmer, George Clooney and Christian Bale, with Ben Affleck waiting in the wings for 2016’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

    Like Rourke before The Wrestler, Keaton hasn’t exactly disappeared from acting, but he’s had a low profile of late. Recent projects have included voice work (he was Ken in Toy Story 3 and Chick Hicks in Cars) and some character bits such as an evil executive in RoboCop and a mysterious race promoter in Need for Speed. In other words, nothing huge.

    That could change with Birdman, co-written and directed by Mexico’s Alejandro González Iñárritu. Keaton plays Riggan Thomson, a washed-up actor famous for once playing Batman – I mean Birdman – and now trying to mount a comeback in the form of a Broadway adaptation of Raymond Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.

    The haunting opening of the trailer – a 32-second single shot, an eternity in a medium known for rapid-fire editing – features Keaton’s character walking sullenly through a backstage throng of techies, grips and makeup personnel, backed by Gnarls Barkley’s 2006 hit Crazy. In voice-over, he growls in his best Bat-voice: “How did we end up here? In this dump? You were a movie star, remember?”

    And then he remembers, through images of superhero special effects and other scenes that look as though they might be dream sequences – Keaton running almost naked through Manhattan, and walking into what looks like a room of frozen, multi-colored bubbles.

    Then: “You’re Birdman. Let’s go back one more time and show them what we’re capable of.”

    And then he fights The Hulk! Well, not quite; he takes a swing at Edward Norton, and the two of them have at it. Norton played Bruce Banner back in 2008′s The Incredible Hulk, although maybe the relevant reference here is 1999’s Fight Club. And if the first rule of Birdman is that you don’t talk about Birdman, then fine me now. The film flies into theaters on Oct. 17.


  183. lebeau the other guys and toy story 3 made money so that should mean his career is good again and his part in other guys was big


    • It’s not just a matter of being in a hit movie. If it was, Samuel L Jackson would be the biggest star in the world. His movies have grossed more combined than any other actor. But the thing is, people recognize that for the most part no one went to see Star Wars or the Avengers or Jurassic Park because Jackson was in them. Being A-list is about how many tickets your name above the marquee sells. It’s unlikely that Keaton sold many tickets for Toy Story 3 or The Other Guys.


  184. actually samuel l jacskon is considered the top box office star. His movie’s gross alot of money. I say even if its supporting role if the actor has a good amount of screen time it should be considered a hit. Like i mentioned in the jude law article if the size of the role counts then michael caine and morgan freeman would both have articles in your website cause bulk of there roles are supporting. Hell walken would have it too keaton still had alot of screentime in other guys. Its hard for an actors to have a hit movie in every leading role he does no actor is that consistent


    • “actually samuel l jacskon is considered the top box office star. His movie’s gross alot of money.”

      I’m going to disagree with you. Statistically, Samuel L Jackson has been in movies that have grossed more than anyone else. What makes that statistic interesting is that it is unexpected. Samuel L Jackson doesn’t star in any of those movies. He is not by any stretch the top box office star despite the high grosses of his movies. Tom Cruise is a bigger star than Samuel L. Jackson. He has more influence and commands a higher paycheck. That’s the measure of a star.


  185. plus to be honest keaton never sold a movie on his name alone. He was never really a leading man. Batman dosent count because batman was already established a comic book character and you could have put any actor in that movie it would been a hit anyways


  186. but back to my orignal comment the bulk of michael caine and morgan freeman hit movies are supporting are you going to take that away from them so i guess batman begins dont count for caine or freeman ok i forget about mr mom there’s that but i guess you have get rid of him next year when he gets a nod for birdman


    • Yeah, I don’t credit Caine or Freeman with the success of the Batman movies. I doubt their presence resulted in extra tickets sales. The fact that The Dark Knight was a big hit doesn’t make Caine and Freeman movie stars.


  187. but alot of the successful movies they had were supporting too are going to discredit them with half there filmography caine and freeman won supporting oscars i guess it dosent count. freeman and caine had alot of screentime there it was not a bit part like. i always thought a star means appearing in hit movies but i guess star means different things


    • It’s not like there is an official definition. But as a rule, supporting actors are not movie stars. Movie stars have their names above the title. Movie stars open movies. They sell tickets on star power alone. An A-list actor has the clout to get their projects made. Caine and Freeman don’t do that. They are very well-known supporting actors. And very well-respected. They are certainly famous. But they aren’t A-list.

      And there is nothing wrong with that.


  188. i doubt we can give bale credit either with exception of batman none of his movies really made alot of money . Llike keatons batman people saw it for batman movie not because bales name you can put anyone in that movie still a big hit. superheros genres are in now anyway


  189. caine was in sucessfull leading movies before italin job get carter and hes been oscar noms for lead actor freeman had sucess leading role in invctus and driving miss daisy. those 2 actors have gotten movies made and have alot of clout i d say there a list


  190. i think its fair to say at least that caine and freeman where a list in there prime because they did have successful leading roles in their younger days but there arent many leading roles written for actors there age so there forced to go into supporting roles. which takes away from them being a list anymore.Kind of like gene hackman in his younger years who no one cannoth aruge he was never a list french connection and Hoosier were hits on his name alone. Plus on superman 2 they put his name above reeves so at that point he must have had star power if they put his name first probaly to draw people


  191. The Birdman should do well but lets see if he capitalize on it if a hit. Its hard to say if turning down batman forever hurt his career. i still potential in him hes been working more the last 5 years with big profile roles.Birdman finally brings back dark Keaton roles we been missing.


  192. i do respect that


  193. iam going to the tiff to meet keaton he will sign my batman dvd


  194. i was having disucssion with a list with someone in the robin williams board we both agree kevin bacon is underatted and even though he can draw a crowd to a movie with his name alone we still consider him a list


  195. You’re going to meet Michael Keaton? I always thought he was the best batman, and good in most everything. He’s most definitely always conducted his career on his own terms.


  196. hes ok i guess i cant say iam fan i dont hate him either.I like bales batmans movies better but his were ok too. I get the feeling it never bothered keaton when he was out of the spotlight he always seemed like a guy who hates the spotlight


  197. speaking of batman do u think of affleck never made the town or argo which was his comeback movies do u think he would be on this list


  198. Yeah, he probably would if he never made those movies. Going from the oscar winning good will hunting to the disaster that was gigli would have made him a good candidate for this list. He was a laughing stock for a little while, but luckily he turned it around. And i actually think he will make a good batman, even though i’m probably alone in my opinion.


  199. ryan gosling and bale turned it down those guys would have been better batman then that guy. franco too.Hes gonna to be at tiff to promote gone girl so i guess ill see him too gone girl has some ocar buzz


  200. but to be honest after good will hunting he was more famous for his relationship with jlo then his movies.sure some of his movies were hits but the quality was bad examples were aramdagan pearl harbor sum of all fears and daredevil. Those movies are still nothing to brag about then he made flops like phantoms bounce surviving Christmas list goes. even at his peak he had more flops then hits. It only seemed like he was a Lister cause him and Jenifer face was everywhere in magazines.But in reality for the most part he couldn’t sell tickets and the movies that did sell tickets they were lucky to be hits got critically mangled and those movies are now looked upon as crap.While matt damon was making movies that made money and the quality was good. He didn’t star making quality movies until the town then he made argo but he only made 2 hit movies hes a bad actor in mt opnion but a good director people say hes this generations costner h insult costner at least had charisma going for him.


  201. Jennifer Lopez didn’t come along until years after Good Will Hunting. I doubt his relationship with her is a period in his life he remembers fondly. Like I said, he had a lot of flops, the unfathomable Gigli, overexposed, but he turned it all around. His supporting role in Hollywoodland reminded people he was a good actor, then came gone baby gone, the town, argo…I’m looking forward to gone girl. And I really hate james franco, so i’m glad he didn’t get batman.


  202. franco is ten times more talented then him watch 127 hours franco acutlay had a acting nod. Hollywoodland good perfromance just short of oscar worthy and franco had a better resume then affleck. I dont care for town or argo but i loved gone baby gone he is a better director.I just dont think hes a good actor overall great director though. i feel costner deserves his comeback


  203. I never said franco doesn’t have talent as an actor, I just hate that smug, arrogant, i’m-better- than-everyone- else -and- i -know- it attitude. As for ben, I think he does some very good acting in bounce. You may not like the movie, but the courtroom scene where he breaks down crying, very powerful.


  204. i seen ben affleck in interviews he comes off an arrogant its sad he blamed jlo for ending his career which sad he put it all on jlo he choose to put his life in the news and iam sure picking crappy movies didnt help or cheating on jlo several times one in which was with stripper at bachelor party plus i heard he came off as difficult during aramagden franco dosent strike me as arrogant he acts the same tom cruise does he acts like a free spirit hes loose in interviews and interesting hes not boring


  205. ben was nominated for razzie for bounce the courtroom scene was over the top and fake who do u think is better actor affleck or costner


  206. Franco is also the one who hit on the underage girl online, not ben. He may have laid the blame on j.lo in the past, but he’s spoken more respectfully of her recently. I can say without a doubt that he’s a better actor than costner, who i feel always plays the same roles over and over again. Ben’s made some bad movies, for sure, but good will hunting to argo, you can’t get more different.


  207. one scandal and he said he was kid dding franco has a interesting sense of humor affleck had alcohol problem and he hasnt spoken nice to jlo since he didnt take blame for his failures. if you think costner is the same watch jfk mr brooks a perfect world he can okay anything plus costner can carry a movie unlike ben Lastly corstner has an acting nod ben never did


  208. him and bruce were also known to order escorts to togather


  209. Same goes for affleck. One bad relationship choice and you act like that defines his entire life. Franco acted like the teenage girl led him on; there’s a difference between blaming your ex for bad film choices and a grown man acting like he was misled by a teenager. Everyone makes mistakes, so i won’t hold it against him, but the same can be said for ben as well. He might have misspoke a few times, who cares? He said dating j.lo was probably bad for his career, but openly admitted to making some bad films.


  210. its not the his choice in jlo its the way he acted during his relationship cheating on her with a stripper at his bachelor party buying hookers his alcohol problem got so bad he had to driven to rehab by charlie sheen francos one thing with the teenager is nothing compared to bens behavior Also ben does not change his voice he has the same voice no emotion at least costner has charm and charisma jfk he had a commending speech he stole the show in man of steel plus costner wasnt in the news like ben he kept his personal life personal


  211. Going to rehab and a strip club? That’s just about every actor in hollywood. I’m not even going to go into the horrendous stuff charlie sheen has done. Ben is practically wholesome compared to some of the actors out there. He may have shared every excruciating detail about him and j.lo’s relationship, but he’s gotten to be a lot more private. Why are you holding this against ben, anyway?


  212. its not going to a strip club its cheatin against on your fiance with a stripper what you have agaist costner or franco ill tell what i have agaist ben he is arragant i dont respect anyone that cheates he get off by his look and his movies and acting suck. I loved daredeivl comics as a kid i saw it in theatre he ruined it for me i rented giali it sucked he so boring when he acts he says a line its like you can tell he is reading off the script he souless brings no life to characters i hate how people compare costner to affleck costner is better actor and it sucks costner had to wait longer to get a comeback but it came to affleck earlier costner is better


  213. its not that my holding this against ben i dont care how actor acts as long as i like his work for example i think crowe and penn are douche i enjoy there movies i only mention it cause u hold things against franco cause u think hes arrogant


  214. I don’t have anything against costner, i just don’t like him as an actor. And it’s not like franco is classy bashing anne hathaway and blaming her for the failure of the oscars. And ben may not have been the picture perfect fiancee to j.lo, but she goes through husbands like clothes while ben has been married to jennifer garner for years with three children. He’s clearly grown up and matured. I won’t say daredevil and gigli are his shining hours, but a few bad movies shouldn’t define your entire career.


  215. i dont remember franco bashing anne he praised her perfromance in oscars he praises his costars he signs autographs is humble. The academy must his acting since hes gotten more acting nods then ben. ben still seems arrogant he trashed acadamy for being snubbed for best director for argo. he could cheat on garner behind closed doors maybe he keeps it private he cheated on paltrow too, too be honest he made more then a few bad movies most of the 90s and 2000s he made bad movies the only ones he made i liked hollywoodland ,good will hutning company men and gone baby gone. Ben is still the cocky jerk he once was he should take a note from matt damon who is better actor


  216. I see your point. There are actors whose work i enjoy even when i don’t think so highly of them personally. So far, i can’t remember hating franco when i saw him in a movie.