Even though Michael Keaton played the most well-known Batman (1989) of all time, few people recognized his talent before he made his screen debut. He was not typically the actor that directors would have cast as Bruce Wayne in the late 1980s because he was more famous for his work in comedies. Needless to say, many people at the time were shocked to hear that Tim Burton had chosen Keaton as a superhero in Batman (1989).
Prior to Batman, Keaton and Burton worked together on the fantasy horror comedy movie Beetlejuice (1988). Now, the upcoming Beetlejuice 2 is nearly complete, and production will resume as soon as the Hollywood strike is over. However, the actor was reportedly reluctant to reprise his role as the titular Beetlejuice by the time Beetlejuice 2 started to gain some real traction.
Michael Keaton Was Hesitant To Reprise His Role In Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice Sequel?
Michael Keaton gave one of the most outstanding and memorable performances of his career in Beetlejuice. His subsequent acting roles demonstrated his diverse range and adaptability, with standout appearances in films like Batman and Birdman.
Tim Burton acknowledged in a recent interview with the British Film Institute, mentioning that Keaton was hesitant about the follow-up. He also discussed the Night Shift actor’s performance.
“Beautiful. He was the same way. He didn’t want to do it [initially] – he had no necessarily burning desire, but I have to say, it was the most fun. It reminded me of back in the old days, this unhinged thing unleashed on the set. I was quite shocked at how easy it was for him to kick it back into it. It was like demon possession.”
One strategy the director used to keep the original Beetlejuice’s spirit was to bring Keaton back. In addition to reuniting some important members of the original cast, he also used a similar style of filmmaking. Burton stated:
“Working with these people again, and seeing them all, it was very emotional for me. Again, just going back to the old, same puppets and techniques. It goes back to the good old days.”
Meanwhile, when asked about finally working with Burton again on Beetlejuice 2 by Empire at a London event celebrating his 1989 Batman film and The Flash, Keaton praised the director:
Keaton says that it’s incredible to be working with Tim Burton again on Beetlejuice 2: “He’s a rare breed, he’s a true artist. A true original,” he says. pic.twitter.com/vJvM5BYsOY
— Empire Magazine (@empiremagazine) June 3, 2023
Why Did Tim Burton Choose Michael Keaton To Play Batman?
Tim Burton had to fight to keep Michael Keaton to play Batman in 1989 because the latter was not known as a serious actor back then.
Nevertheless, he persisted in his beliefs because he recognized the actor’s potential, and the rest was history. In Keaton’s interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the article also featured a statement from Burton outlining his casting decision for the Birdman actor. As he said in the article:
“I had met lots of the square-jaw type of actors, but it’s like, well, why does somebody need to dress up like a bat? They don’t look like Arnold Schwarzenegger, they’re not a big action hero. They’re somebody who’s intelligent and kind of screwed up. And Michael has such an intensity that it’s like, ‘Yeah, I could see that guy wanting to dress up as a bat.’ It’s all rooted in psychology, Jekyll and Hyde and two sides of a personality, light and dark, and he understood that.”
Keaton was again recast by Burton for the 1992 sequel Batman Returns. The actor and director clearly share a special bond because Keaton acknowledged Burton’s role in revolutionizing the Batman film franchise:
“What Tim did changed everything. Everything you see now started with him. If you really think about what happened between 1989 and now, on a cultural, corporate, economic level, it’s unbelievable.”
Beetlejuice 2, a follow-up to Beetlejuice (1988), also stars Michael Keaton, Winona Ryder, Catherine O’Hara, Jenna Ortega, Monica Bellucci, and Willem Dafoe.
The movie is scheduled to release on September 6, 2024.
Meanwhile, you can rent Beetlejuice on Apple TV, and Batman is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.