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Michael Keaton Appreciation Thread

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The Man with the Hat is Back
Nov 8, 2003
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I'm mainly making this as an excuse to post a cool article with him from 1996 in Premier magazine. He goes over why he didn't come back to Batman, how he felt slightly disappointed by Batman Returns (!!) and where he wanted the franchise to go afterword. Also speaks at-length about Multiplicity.

It's interesting to note that Keaton is an interesting guy. He sounds like a major butthole in interviews, though he's never been reported to be. In truth, it's really just a case of he's a blunt guy. Almost comedically confrontational. Of course, just don't be an idiot to him and you'll get by unscathed....

Premiere, July 96

This is my life!, director Harold Ramis thought while he was reading MULTIPLICITY, a short story by his ANIMAL HOUSE co-author Chris Miller. The idea of an overworked, over-stressed nice guy, a guy who needs help, and what happens when that help arrives via a mad scientist who creates three slightly loopy clones of the man in need, was just what Ramis was looking for to follow his clock-stopping GROUNDHOG DAY.

It was the Michael Keaton of BEETLEJUICE fame, the manic, athletic, comic Keaton, that Ramis wanted for the lead. 'I knew the part would require tremendous performance energy,' says Ramis. ' Michael is a Method actor, he needs to make everything real for himself. At the same time, he has incorporated all of the history of physical comedy and can go off with it.' Keaton, however, wasn't sure he was up for the 4-character comedy. After walking away from a potential $35 million payday in a third turn as the Caped Crusader, and making an unspeakable SPEECHLESS with Geena Davis, Keaton was set to star in the barf-and-bowler fest, KINGPIN, the Farrelly brothers' follow-up to DUMB AND DUMBER. Keaton hesitated just long enough to let his old friends from NIGHT SHIFT and GUNG HO, Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, take a couple of whacks at the MULTIPLICITY script by Miller and his wife, Mary Hale. Then, the 43-year-old Keaton, a single father who lives near the Los Angeles beach with his 13-year-old son by an earlier marriage, signed on, and dumped KINGPIN. There's no method to his madness, Keaton insists. It was five months of the hardest work of his life to create the multiple Doug Kinneys. In the process came the painful end to his four- year affair with FRIENDS' Courtney Cox. (Don't ask. He won't talk about it.) Hey, Keaton's just another guy trying to do right.

PREMIERE: You've stayed away from physical comedy for a while - why?

KEATON: Here's the deal: I'm not exactly sure what the perception is of me. I suppose I care because, I guess, people care; to say I don't care probably would be full of ****. But sometimes I think more is made out of this rebellious thing with me. It's true, but it ain't true by any design .... it just is what it is. I haven't done a comedy only because there wasn't one that came around that made me say, 'This is a funny movie.'

PREMIERE: Were you looking for that comic relief when you were considering starring in KINGPIN?

KEATON: I was looking for nothing. You get what is sent to you, and you say to practically everything, 'Don't do that.' MULTIPLICITY had a story I wanted to tell. But it wasn't, like, 'I need to go get a comedy.' I take chances because mostly that's what keeps me interested. Otherwise I get bored real fast. Like the Batman thing, like, why would you veer away from that? On paper it's probably a stupid move .... but my choices are my choices.

PREMIERE: Any regrets about shedding the batsuit after BATMAN RETURNS?

KEATON: The first Batman I wanted to do because I really dug it, but also - I also thought to myself that it could be a big movie, which would be real groovy too. I read the script of BATMAN FOREVER and I didn't think it was very good.

PREMIERE: But you read MULTIPLICITY and didn't think it was very good. What was different?

KEATON: Right.

PREMIERE: What was different?

KEATON: When I went into the discussions with the director of BATMAN FOREVER (Joel Schumacher), it was pretty clear we weren't going to ...

PREMIERE: You just weren't going to get along? Was there more to it than that?

KEATON: No. We probably weren't going to really relate on the level I wanted to relate. The idea of doing a third Batman, truthfully, was the coolest idea, because I thought, Man, it's just so rich with possibilities. And I could see - after talking about it - that those possibilities weren't going to be explored, and it became a less interesting proposition all the time. Trust me, there was a huge difference between getting ready to do MULTIPLICITY and the experience of having a conversation about a third Batman. A quantum leap. Do you want to spend 5 months working hard on Batman, or spend 5 months working harder on MULTIPLICITY? I would do MULTIPLICITY in a heartbeat. I don't care if the thing makes a negative revenue.

PREMIERE: Did any kind of disappointment about BATMAN RETURNS play into your decision?

KEATON: It was slightly disappointing, but that's why I thought, Let's learn something from that. Let's really get back to the coolness of the first one, back to when that whole character and the story was so rich in potential. I mean, this is a great character. It's pulp. I dig it. I think it's cool. But it was going the other way.

PREMIERE: The other way?

KEATON: I am going to try and make this really simple. It was so cool, the first one was so cool. It will never be that cool again. I would have willingly thrown myself into more work in the original direction. It wasn't going to happen. So I retired the jersey. That's it.

PREMIERE: In MULTIPLICITY you play 4 characters, but they are all the same guy, right?

KEATON: The characters all emanate from the same guy, Doug, who is the main guy, and who is not, probably, a huge leap for me. The characters are basically the 3 or 4 parts of every man. I'm talking broad, broad terms. But if you followed me around today, I'm Doug. Juggling. Get in the car, run errands. Come back to the house, get Sean (son). I take him to the (charity) car wash for the baseball team at school, and then I run back to get him because we've got a baseball game to play and I'm the coach, and then I came home, get ready for our friend's bar mitzvah, come back for this interview, go to Planet Hollywood to pick Sean up from the bar mitzvah party. Look, its's what a lot of people go through, trying to get through the days. There is a lot to do. If there were more of me I could get more done, right? We all decided, Harold, me, and the writers, that (the first clone) would be an impressive go-getter. They had originally written his as almost militaristic. I thought, let's make him not just that but also some of the worst aspects of the guy, make him, not a pig, but maybe he could easily become a pig. A lot of id. Maybe there's just a little something off. He got too heavy in the masculinity area (grabs his crotch). You want to see his difference just barely, very, very subtly at the beginning, and then build him up. By the end, you see a full-blown jerk who is constantly grabbing his crotch.

PREMIERE: Nothing to keep the testosterone in check?

KEATON: Right, right. It becomes farcical. In fact, (Doug) needs another clone, who can deep the first one in check. This one is very understanding and open. He has that more female side to him. Women tend to be more nurturing, generally speaking. I think women are more open to new ideas most of the time. I don't really know - I don't watch Phil Donahue every Saturday night. Then it gets worse still, when the two clones decide to go out and make their lives easier and clone another Doug, who is simply a bad copy, a little blurry, not quite there. So that's trippy. It's very funny, and actually, you know, I think Harold really wanted to say something.

PREMIERE: When did you see the script and decide to make MULTIPLICITY.

KEATON: A year ago, Harold asked me if I wanted to do it. I was hesitant. The script was pretty good at the beginning, not great. But I liked the idea of Harold with that idea and those writers. I wasn't too sure about doing it, though. Then we - I started talking with Lowell and Babaloo, started to do our own writing. We rewrote everything. Then Harold did a rewrite and I worked with him a little bit, you know, just a little bit. On the stage, I rewrite a lot, or as the cameras are rolling, we do a lot of work. That's the nature of the process. It would be nice if it wasn't like that, but that's kind of the way it goes. So, a little bit challenging, a little bit scary, and a little bit hard.

PREMIERE: You are in nearly every frame of the movie, sometimes as two and three characters.

KEATON: It was the hardest movie I've ever made. The job grew exponentially. There have been movies where I've been in just about every frame, but there were days with this one when I'd have twenty-some wardrobe changes. Start off with Doug, go to Doug 3, jump back to Doug, go to Doug 2, go back to Doug, go to Doug 3, go to 4 then 2. I truthfully didn't know many times who was working that day.

PREMIERE: Was this process ever fun?

KEATON: Really fun. I mean, really hard. It was one of those things; you just had to bear down, just concentrate. If you stopped to think about it, it would probably really tire you out. You could not rehearse this stuff because of this unbelievable technical process that, I have to say, I still don't understand. In fact, I didn't want to know it totally, because I was afraid of being conscious of it. There was no way to really decide where to go, where certain characters were, because of how the process worked.

PREMIERE: Did you have any kind of trick you played with yourself so you could switch back and forth between Dougs? The differences in the characters are fairly subtle.

KEATON: What I would do was, I'd try to go to the common denominator, I'd go to ground zero on each guy. If I had been doing one of the guys, and I had to get back into one of the other guys, sometimes it would be a half hour before I could switch my head around. What I found is, Doug 3 is trying to envision being lighter in terms of gravity. Maybe I would take a few minutes to walk around and kind of feel like you're ...light. I always have a hard time describing this. To me it's really Boring and so actor-y, but you asked me the question. With Doug 2 it kept coming back to his crotch. His hands were playing down there, or just checking, or, you know, whatever. He loves in his testosterone. So I thought it would be funny for Doug 4 to be fascinated by Doug 2, who is not someone you would admire. But Doug 4 - just loves Doug, thinks he's the greatest. Sleeps at the foot of the bed.

PREMIERE: So who is the original Doug?

KEATON: Doug is, like, a guy - just a really decent, hardworking, well- intentioned guy who has been split up like a lot of people. He doesn't know what he should want, or what he should do. In the original script, I wasn't interested in playing this guy. I thought he didn't have balls. I didn't like what he did for a living (electonics), I didn't like how he did it, I didn't like the way he was represented. It's like, he was designed for old comedic standards. But to Lowell and Babaloo's credit, and Harold's, I said, 'Make him this other guy,' and they did it ... Or I wouldn't have done it.

PREMIERE: You didn't leave them much choice?

KEATON: Yeah, yeah. But, you know, those guys also trusted me, not all the time, but you know, they wrote the first speech I ever did (Night Shift), so they really have a bit part of my heart.

PREMIERE: What are some other things you want to do?

KEATON: There's stuff going on at our production office that I really like. I am predicting MULTIPLICITY probably is not going to be a critics' favourite, but people are going to like it a lot. I know it was a great experience. The next movie, DESPERATE MEASURES, I play a character that is frightening. I am really excited, but it is going to prove to be hard to play. So far, I am in direct communication with Barbet Schroeder on that. Then I want to do some movies that probably are more adult in nature, just, you know, just more adult, not necessarily sexually more adult, just bigger themes. Love and man- women relationships. When you get into that relationship issue, I just find it endlessly interesting. I mean, you would think by this time we would have exhausted it or figured it out.

PREMIERE: Your last movie, SPEECHLESS, was about a relationship. Why didn't the movie work? Dissect that one.

KEATON: I don't want to. You know, either get a prescription for Valium, or I can dissect that one for you. You've got a choice.

PREMIERE: At certain points in your career, after BATMAN for instance, you've had an enormous amount of power to do whatever you wanted to do, and your choices seem to say that you didn't care to build on that power.

KEATON: Do you want to know Why?


KEATON: The only power I have is inside me. I know who I am. I know what I like. I'm very secure about my power as a person, okay? How other people perceive my power, I don't really give a **** because - sorry, but when I find my name not on a list, I breathe a sigh of relief. You know Why? Because I set the standards that I want to live life by. Don't put your standards on me. What is this, high school? Who's in the club? Who's not? Oh please. I hope you invite me to the party? Get the **** out of here. I don't want to live like that. And everybody in the this business lives like it. We're talking about 50-, 60-year old men. Grow the **** up, that's what I've got to say.

So, use this thread to discuss the man, the myth, the Keaton!
Here's another bit from an unknown magazine at an unknown time, about him playing Batman again in Burton's Superman film....

Q: There's talk of you putting on the Batcape once again and making an appearance as Batman in Tim Burton's Superman Reborn project. Any truth to that?
A: There's been kind of an overall discussion about the subject of Superman. But you know what, that movie is a good ways off and a thousand things could happen.

Hey, Michael was right!! And this proves that he was going to play Batman once more in Burton's Superman film, or at least that he was interested.
Thanks doc. Extremely interesting.

I guess Keaton's dissapointment on Batman Returns was the same I had the first time I saw it; it wasn't a direct sequel but a re-imagination on many many levels.
Michael Keaton is awesome. We should all be glad he graces the same ground we walk on. He
Not once, to me, did he come across as an ******* in that interview. Actually Michael Keaton is more down-to-earth than anything. Blunt? Yes. But in a good way.

Thanks for sharing that interview! MK is indeed an awesome guy that deserves our respect.
Keaton is the Best BATMAN ever. He has the best voice and everything. Bale comes in second.
I love reading interviews with down to earth celebrities, Keaton seems like an alright guy. Probably because he's not a Scientologist.
KEATON: The first Batman I wanted to do because I really dug it, but also - I also thought to myself that it could be a big movie, which would be real groovy too. I read the script of BATMAN FOREVER and I didn't think it was very good.

I totally agree with you there Mr Batman I mean Keaton, thanks form the 96 interview I love BATMAN & BATMAN RETURNS.
Great ideia to start this thread. Keaton is a very cool down to earth guy. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he doesn't go with the general flow and he follows his heart too much. He is driven by challenge not money.
And he loves and respects the character of Batman so much. I speak for myself when I say I'm very proud that he stuck up for every one of us fans by telling Schumacher that he wouldn't go along with his version of Batman.
He could have just take the money and go along with it but he never did.
And it's funny that the comedian that almost everybody thought would bomb as Batman not only was the guy who is now the benchmark for everyone else but also the one to first stand up for the seriousness of the character.
I think I will post some of my Keaton as Batman photos later on as this thread certainly is the right place to post them and honor Keaton's reign as The Bat.
I wish I had been in the room with the Shumacher interview. It probably came close to being a headline in the next day's newspapers as this:

Keaton beats Shumacher to death. Judge pardons him immediately saying "He's just too much of a badass"
Palpadious said:
I wish I had been in the room with the Shumacher interview. It probably came close to being a headline in the next day's newspapers as this:

Keaton beats Shumacher to death. Judge pardons him immediately saying "He's just too much of a badass"

Oh yeah no doubt. I think he was being politically correct in that interview because it's been well reported that him and Schumacher didn't get along at all. Even because later on Schumacher also dissed him to the press by saying he wanted more money. A lame p.r. move to get the fans to turn against Keaton and accept whoever they were gonna put in the bat suit.

Well let's start with the picture tribute here:






My God.... Keaton is just so naturally Batman..... honestly, I can say he's the only person born to wear the cape and cowl. He has such an intelligent, dangerous, deep look to him. I'm secure enough in my heterosexuality to declare Keaton one amazing looking guy. I wish I looked even half that good.
Palpadious said:
I wish I had been in the room with the Shumacher interview.

Honestly, as much as I follow Michael Keaton, all of the interviews I've read, I've seen, and everything I find out about him, I prettymuch know for sure that he was probably silent for most of the interview. Just listening to Schumacher talk, and just giving Schumacher that frigid look he has, until he probably got up, tossed his hands into the hair and said "Forget it. I can't work with this man, or this script."

I'm usually never cocky, but I'd honestly be surprised if I was wrong. I've got so much in common with Keaton just in general (we're very similar.... he feels almost like the father or brother I've always wanted), and know so much about him that since that's how I would have reacted, I'm sure I know enough about him that he did just that.
great thread. i love michael keaton, he was the first batman i ever knew and will always be batman to me. he's a great actor and never gets the respect he deserves, plus he can kill you by looking at you.

Sadly I've seen all those before. I think it's time for Keaton manips!

Don't hit me, I don't have anything better than paint on my computer.

Great manip, Keaton and Oldman in a showdown would be great. I think our Batman would end Dracula's end of terror in a heartbeat...lol
DocLathropBrown said:
My God.... Keaton is just so naturally Batman..... honestly, I can say he's the only person born to wear the cape and cowl. He has such an intelligent, dangerous, deep look to him.

Totally agree with you. Also his look was great as far as showing the detective side of Batman as well (thankfully he didn't need anybody to do his homework for him...lol).
But my favourite scene in which he uses his eye is when he remembers the death of his parents. He didn't need any dialogue, he totally showed us his pain with his eyes. One of the most stunning subtle scenes ever done by an actor, it gives me the chills to this day...
I think Keaton was much better as batman in the first movie than in Returns.
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