Michael Keaton - Actors and Actresses

Nationality: American. Born: Michael Douglas in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, 9 September 1951. Family: Married the actress Caroline MacWilliams, son: Sean. Education: Attended Kent State University for two years, majored in speech. Career: Early 1970s—began performing in Pittsburgh coffeehouses; 1972—worked as technical crew member of WQED, Pittsburgh's public TV station; 1975—moved to Los Angeles; 1977–82—did stand-up comedy at the Comedy Store and other comedy clubs, performed improvisational theater with the Los Angeles offshoot of Chicago's Second City troupe, began writing comedy material and making appearances on television shows, and was cast in the TV sitcoms All's Fair (1977), Working Stiffs (1979), and Report to Murphy (1982), and the comedy-variety shows Mary (1978) and The Mary Tyler Moore Hour (1979); 1982—made screen debut in Night Shift ; 1985—cast as male lead in Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo , but was replaced by Jeff Daniels after a week of shooting. Awards: Best Actor, National Society of Film Critics, for Beetlejuice and Clean and Sober , 1988. Agent: Creative Artists Agency, 9830 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90212, U.S.A.

Films as Actor:


Night Shift (Ron Howard) (as Bill Blazejowski)


Mr. Mom (Dragoti) (as Jack)


Johnny Dangerously (Heckerling) (title role)


Gung Ho ( Working Class Man ) (Ron Howard) (as Hunt Stevenson); Touch and Go (Mandel) (as Bobby Barbato)


The Squeeze (Roger Young) (as Harry Berg)


Beetlejuice (Burton) (as Betelgeuse); Clean and Sober (Caron) (as Daryl Poynter); She's Having a Baby (John Hughes) (uncredited cameo)


The Dream Team (Zieff) (as Billy Caulfield); Batman (Burton) (as Bruce Wayne/Batman)


Pacific Heights (Schlesinger) (as Carter Hayes)


One Good Cop (Gould) (as Artie Lewis)


Batman Returns (Burton) (as Bruce Wayne/Batman)


Much Ado about Nothing (Branagh) (as Dogberry); My Life (Rubin) (as Bob Jones); Earth and the American Dream (Couturie—doc) (voice only)


The Paper (Ron Howard) (as Henry Hackett); Speechless (Underwood) (as Kevin)


Multiplicity (Ramis) (as Doug Kinney)


Frank Capra's American Dream (Bowser—for TV) (as himself); Inventing the Abbotts (O'Connor) (as narrator—uncredited); Jackie Brown (Tarantino) (as Ray Nicolet)


Desperate Measures (Schroeder) (as Peter McCabe); Out of Sight (Soderbergh) (as Ray Nicolet—uncredited); Jack Frost (Miller) (as title role)


Road to Glory (Corrente)


By KEATON: articles—

Interview with Tom Zito, in Washington Post , 30 October 1982.

"Michael Keaton Reaches to His Dark Side," interview with Adam Belanoff, in Video Review (New York), November 1988.

Interview with Bill Zehme, in Rolling Stone (New York), 29 June 1989.

"Batman and the New World Order," interview with Carol Caldwell, in Esquire (New York), June 1991.

Interview with L. Linderman, in Playboy (Chicago), July 1992.

"Dr. Michael & Mr. Keaton," interview with L. Grobel, in Movieline (Escondido), August 1997.

On KEATON: articles—

Roman, S., in Esquire (New York), September 1983.

Lee, Luaine, in Chicago Tribune , 9 March 1986.

Edelstein, David, "Mixing Beetlejuice ," in Rolling Stone (New York), 2 June 1988.

McGuigan, Cathleen, "Keaton Plays It Straight," in Newsweek (New York), 29 August 1988.

Roman, S., "First You Die," in Video (New York), November 1988.

Rodman, Ronald, "They Shoot Comic Books, Don't They?," in American Film (New York), May 1989.

Clark, John, filmography in Premiere (New York), July 1989.

Current Biography 1992 , New York, 1992.

Schneller, Johanna, "Hanging Upside Down with Michael Keaton," in GQ (New York), June 1992.

Schreurs, Fred, "Bat Mitzvah," in Premiere (New York), July 1992.

Busch, A.M., "'Kingpin' Just Isn't Up Keaton's Alley," in Variety (New York), 1–7 May, 1995.

Brown, C., "Seriously Funny," in Premiere (New York), July 1996.

* * *

There is a bit of larceny lurking in Michael Keaton's eyes, and he has made that mischievous expression work well for him in comedies and dramas, playing men disturbed by the business of business and

Michael Keaton (right) with Andy Garcia in Desperate Measures
Michael Keaton (right) with Andy Garcia in Desperate Measures
the business of life. On occasion, he turns that look into pure wickedness to play berserk and otherworldly characters.

Keaton burst onto the film scene with his attention-grabbing performance in Night Shift , playing manic morgue worker Bill Blazejowski, who brings in extra earnings by moonlighting as a pimp. His follow-up, Mr. Mom , in which he plays a breadwinner who loses his job and consequently switches roles with his homemaker wife, may not have offered the most original comic script, but it was a boxoffice hit and solidified Keaton's stardom. He scored again in the 1920s-gangster spoof Johnny Dangerously . If the film was a bit too sketchy to sustain its running time, Keaton offers an attractive performance as the title hoodlum. His Johnny Dangerously is a deft burlesque on Cagney, with his lines delivered in flawless deadpan. After several lackluster efforts— Gung Ho , Touch and Go , The Squeeze —Keaton got back on track in two diverse films which, when contrasted, serve to show off his range.

In Beetlejuice , he donned heavy, homely makeup to play a comically macabre no-goodnik named Betelgeuse, a vulgar maverick ghost who markets himself as a "bio-exorcist" to frighten the living. Keaton is outrageous, taking a sometimes vulgar and often broadly theatrical approach to the hilarious, mangy character who is so suitable to the bizarre mood of Tim Burton's horror film. In Clean and Sober , Keaton once again is an unlikable, antisocial character. This time, his style is tense and energy-packed, but also more subdued, because the film is a drama of realism. It is the story of a lowlife hustler who checks into a private drug rehabilitation clinic to hide out after a young woman he has picked up at a bar overdoses from cocaine while in his bed. More than any of his previous roles, his Daryl Poynter goes through stages of character development as he is forced to look at the sad fact that he really is a cocaine addict whose life is spinning out of control as a result of his addiction.

Perhaps Keaton's most famous performance to date is the title character in the megahit Batman and its sequel, Batman Returns . If the showcase performance in the former is Jack Nicholson's (as The Joker) and the latter is Michelle Pfeiffer's (playing Catwoman), Keaton more than holds his own as a sturdy superhero. He was a surprise casting choice for the dual role of Batman, the Caped Crusader, and his alter-ego, neurotic millionaire Bruce Wayne. But given the moody and repressed sides of Wayne's personality, Keaton surely was the right actor for the job (especially after being given an extra layer of muscle by the kindly costume designer!). After a dispute over salary, he was replaced by Val Kilmer in the third Batman feature, Batman Forever .

Keaton took aspects of his Betelgeuse character and built them into the vulgar comedy part of Dogberry in Kenneth Branagh's production of Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing . This time the effect was less than spectacular, and there are moments when one wonders if he really is part of the same movie as the actors who share screen time with him. His follow-ups, however, were two powerful dramatic roles. In My Life , a four-handkerchief weeper, he is a successful career man whose body is being eaten away by cancer just as he is about to become a father. In The Paper , a fast-paced yarn about New York City journalists, he appears as an overworked but dedicated tabloid metro editor whose pregnant wife (Marisa Tomei) is pressuring him to find a higher paying job. Though the former role gives Keaton the better opportunity to thoughtfully build a three-dimensional character, both roles allowed the actor to present credible characters in well-conceived melodramas.

Keaton has the look of a playground scrapper, and maybe that is why he is at his best as an energetic fighter. He may be battling for truth and justice, or for absurdly comical and ridiculous reasons. In any case, when Keaton lets loose, one cannot be bored.

—Audrey E. Kupferberg

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