INT: Michael Keaton
If you had
told me when I was younger that I would someday get to be in the same room as
Michael Keaton, I think my head would have exploded. From watching him in 80s
classics like NIGHT SHIFT or MR. MOM, to his career defining turn as the Dark
Knight in Tim Burtons’ BATMAN, Keaton has always been one of my favorite
actors. After some time away, he’s been steadily making a return to acting.
This month, he’s back on the scene in the new film HERBIE:
stepping in to play Lindsay Lohan’s father.
During the press day for the film, Keaton took some time to talk with JoBlo.com about the film, as well as working with Lindsay Lohan, and the history of NASCAR. Thankfully, I have matured (just a little), so my head didn’t explode during the course of the interview.
the cast members talked about how you’re their favorite actor. Did you know
that at the time?
I did not,
you find out later that Breckin (Meyer) was a little obsessed?
He had a
kind of glaze over his eyes that worried me. (LAUGHS) No, I did, actually. But
they were great, I love these guys. It was really fun. It was a nice set, it was
a really fun set and cast. I didn’t know that until down the road a little
What was the appeal of this?
me the script, and I thought it was really well written. It’s nice to be in a
family movie from time to time. And especially something where it’s this
classically Disney. That kinda becomes part of cinema culture, and really
American culture. Y’know it’s like one of those things. They’re still
talking about the old one. And this one will probably have more impact than
those. That would be my guess. I think it’s a really well made movie by the
way, really well made.
said you gave her advice on her career. What did you say?
Really? That’s curious, because I actually stay out of people’s way and people have been asking me, and I say, you know what? If she asked me, and I probably wouldn’t talk about it to people if she does ask me because I consider that private, I remember one conversation in a car talking about things, and I found that I kinda held back frankly, because…well, if people really wanna talk to me or really wanna ask me something, I gotta assume they really wanna know. If they really wanna know, game’s on. Otherwise, I kinda don’t do it. So, I did the best I could, but you know I didn’t think it was right to get into too much detail with a lot of people around and microphones.
really private and discreet; you have to scrutinize certain situations, so I
could only talk about so much. But I’d be honored to tell her what I think. If
she wanted to listen, that’d be really good. And if I had a different
relationship with her, like if I hung with her more, if I knew her better I love
to do it, because she’s great. She’s a great kid, and she’s enormously
you don’t develop those “dad” relationships with you younger co-stars?
Yes I do actually. I don’t develop them like “hey let’s all hang out.” I get like that, I get very…it’s like even when the guys would tease her all the time, they were like little kids running around. They were all teasing each other and saying things. And sometimes I’d say to the guys, they thought I was kidding, but I was kinda serious. I’d tell them not to talk to her like that. She’s a girl. You know they’d laugh at me!
do you think about your FIRST DAUGHTER co-star Katie Holmes?
here’s what I think, I’ll tell you exactly what I think. I love that kid.
She is the greatest, I just really like her. And all I’ll say is, my hope and
my wish and the vibe that I send her way is that she remembers where she comes
from and who she is and who her mom and dad are, and that’s all she’s gotta
do. Because she’s a very well rounded girl, and I like her a lot, and has
talent that people haven’t even seen yet I think. That’s a lot of stuff to
have going on in your life. It probably feels like a whirlwind. So whatever the
good stuff in there is, I hope she gets. And whatever the bad stuff in there, I
hope she rejects.
new movie is not too bad.
would think it would be good. I’m not at all surprised. That’s a really good
cast and he’s a really good director…I’ve never seen them since I did
interested. I have no interest. It’s not complicated. People seem not to
believe me. I’m just honestly not interested. I only live my life with things
that I’m interested in.
there a character that you would like to revisit?
only if Beetlejuice was done right. At one point, I had the conversation with
Tim, saying “I love this movie so much; I think there’s one more in there
somewhere.” And we both talked about it, and I think there was a script
written once years ago that wasn’t quite it. I would consider that, yeah, a
lot. I would seriously consider that.
was it like working with the car?
actually work with the car very much.
was that scene with the two cars at the end.
Which was an add on, they added the scene to that. It works. It was a great little button to the movie I think. I like the junkyard scene, I thought the junkyard scene was very cute. But that’s before I know he’s Herbie. I just think this is a really well made movie, honestly, really, really well made family movie. I liked it a lot. I love that they didn’t over hi-tech the car. It felt kind of old school. I think people subconsciously don’t quite know why…BEETLEJUICE was like that actually.
One of the
mistakes, if we ever did it (BEETLEJUICE) again, would be to use too much
digital animation or use too many computer tricks. There’s something about
that that’s not primitive…like, homemade, like in some genius kid’s
basement or something. Some of it was done physically, when I do the arms, I
come up with my arms rolled out like that. It was made with literally a plywood
thing, it would spin, and you had to be helped up. We did like, 12 takes because
the arms would go out and fall over. It was all about “how can I get this
thing to do one line?” It’s like, making it up kind of. And that comes off
are some of your favorite movies that you’ve been in?
BATMAN I liked a lot. There’s moments, I tend to remember things from movies
as opposed to the movies. So there’s moments in a lot of movies. But I like
CLEAN AND SOBER. I love MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. There’s a lot about THE PAPER
I really liked. I liked LIVE FROM BAGHDAD.
like GUNG HO.
Oh I love MR. MOM. I do, I really love that. I like what it became. I like that it worked so hard, and it was just a nice little movie. Honestly, it’s a little American classic. It’s a little gem classic, really nice.
haven’t we seen you in as many movies the last few years?
keeps asking me that. I wish I had some really cool answer. But I don’t. I
don’t think there’s one reason. I wasn’t particularly interested. I
also…if I do something I really wanna like what I’m doing. There were a lot
of things in life I wanted to do. I have a lot of interests. I think I looked at
some of the things I was doing and I went “that wasn’t really great.” I
don’t like to not respect myself.
Why do you think you interest in acting was refueled?
think work’s important first of all. I think work’s good for people. Just
work, generally. When I like acting, I really, really like it. HERBIE wasn’t a
particular challenge. But it was a nice place to go and work, and be a part of
something like a big classic Disney movie. It was a polar opposite from
something that was really engaging, which was a little movie I did called GAME
I liked that a lot, and I turned around and went off to do a big studio movie. But basically it was that, take care of some other things in my life, see the world a little bit, making sure my son was raised…off in college.
acting is not the end all be all for you?
certainly not. But there are things about it, I respect it and admire it and I
think it’s an art form, or a craft, one or the other or both. And I like it…
I may do
it again. I may just kinda say, I don’t know, I have no plan. I have kind of a
general plan about how I wanna be as a person. In terms of my work, which is
part of my life, there’s that, but I lot of that I can’t control. I may want
to go do something, but I’m not going to get it. It’s gonna go to whoever
made 100 million dollars on their last movie.
your standards higher on projects now?
are and they aren’t. It’s weird. I could say yeah, but then you would say
“But why are you playing the dad in HERBIE?” (LAUGHS) Except that it was really not complicated: here’s a movie. Do you want to be in a movie? Yes. Here’s a movie called HERBIE, read it. Oh, this is pretty good. This is nice. I like that cast. Let me go meet the director. She seems really smart. I liked what she wanted to do. I’m in the mood to work. It’s really easy. I don’t work too long on the movie. I’m kinda in and out. Why not?
next for you?
doing this movie with a pretty new writer who’s really…at least this script
is really good. Comedy, because I’d really like to be doing some more
comedies. It’s a dark-ish kind of con movie. He has not directed before, which
I kinda thought I wouldn’t do again for a while. But, he’s pretty good, so I
guess I’ll take my chances. His meetings are good. And we’ll probably get a
it’s not done yet, and I’ve learned just not to talk about it until you’re
actually shooting film.
you tell us about GAME 6? Will it get a release?
GAME 6 will probably get released in a very limited way. I would be shocked if it’s not in a few theatres here and there.
us what it’s about.
it’s a Don Delilo script, Don Delilo the novelist. It’s about a playwright
in New York who hasn’t had a hit for a while, but is a good playwright. He’s
got one coming out that looks like it could be good, it’s very personal. And
it’s opening the same night as the Boston Red Sox/ New York Mets Game Six, the
famous, famous game, the World Series. And he’s a die hard Sox fan. Hard core
New Yorker, but a Sox fan. Born and raised in Hell’s Kitchen. His life is
falling apart, he hardly knows that, but it is.
kinda like AFTER HOURS in a way, a little bit like that. It’s really good.
It’s got a stellar cast. Robert Downey Jr., Catherine O’Hara, Bebe Neuwirth.
Great cast, great script. Michael Hoffman directed it, who did SOAPDISH and
That was a case of saying well this is just good, you just gotta go work, just go act and go to the gym. I dug the character a lot. I related to him in a way. But he’s totally unlike me, but actually kind of like me.
you tell us about being exposed to NASCAR?
I didn’t know that much about NASCAR. Just what I get from ESPN. I’m curious about stuff, so I kinda knew roughly what it was about. But going there was a whole other experience. It’s an entire culture. The thing I mostly liked about it was that it was loud, it was really loud. You smell the oil and burning rubber and fans are everywhere. They’re so involved. Inside the pit is one thing, but out with the merchandising, that’s like a city in itself. It was fun. It was really fun to learn how that works. I put on these headsets. You click into the channels, just do the pit crew communications with the driver. That’s really interesting. I was ready for some mayhem.
expected to hear is not at all what I heard. You know, guys talking casually…I
was ready for people going “LOOK OUT! GET OUT…ARRGGGH!!!” (LAUGHS)
cars and I like going fast. Bu this is a whole other thing. And they’re barely
cars. They’re stock cars only in as much as there’s x amount of things that
have to say stock in the car. Besides that they don’t resemble anything at all
the way it was originally manufactured. That’s the idea. Get it down to where
it’s the most efficient. I think where it comes from, NASCAR is classically
American, the history of it. The fact that it came out of something illegal is
like, really American in a way.
came here, they settled, then there came moonshine. You had to have a car to get
away from the cops. Then they started racing these cars. Then they started
Robinson, the director, said that before you started shooting you had a 2 hour
meeting with her.
Well, I probably had 3 or 4 meetings with her. I’m not in the movie that much. What I liked about it was that she had really good answers and she really thought about things. You could say “yeah, but it’s just HERBIE.” But in my opinion, if you don’t do that…this movie is a lot harder than it looks.
really great chefs, especially some of those French guys, what ends up on your
plate and the nuances of it, and you go “that’s it?” And what went into
making just that thing…Herbie was like a big, very difficult thing to do. But
the goal was accomplished in that you go “wow.” Like a nice glass of
lemonade. This is a really, really, sweet, really simple, light poppy kind of
movie. But a ton of work goes into it to get it to be like that. Talking to her,
that’s the only way I know how to work. I just ask a zillion questions.
though it’s just the dad in HERBIE…you have to do that kind of work, I
think. You gotta lay it down. And then you kinda forget, and just show up for
you always approached you roles that way?
Yeah, except for when I just started out and I just had to get the gig. I just had to go audition and get it. Yeah, I always did a fair amount of work. There’s some that require less than others.
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