When talking about Michael Keaton, there is one role that always comes up and one he will forever be linked to. Now, that movie is climbing the Hulu charts, sitting at #6 on the popular streamer.
Beetlejuice is Michael Keaton. Forget Batman (though that comes in a close second), forget Mr. Mom’s Jack Butler, forget Adrian Toomes. Michael Keaton is Beetlejuice.
The movie finds a married couple, Adam (Alec Baldwin) and Barbara (Geena Davis) Maitland, who live in a country home in Winter River, Connecticut. They have a pushy real estate agent, Jane, who is trying to pressure them into selling. The Maitland’s are reluctant.
They are also a perfectly happy couple, unaware of the existence of things like Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton). We meet them going about their daily lives. One morning they are on their way home from the local hardware store when a small dog crosses their path. Adam swerves to miss it and in turn, their car goes off a bridge and into the river below.
We next see the Maitland’s at home, seemingly no worse for the wear. But when Adam tries to leave the home, he finds himself in the desert being chased by strange worm creatures. The Maitland’s are dead and now spirits trapped in their home.
With the Maitland’s gone, Jane is able to sell the home to the Deetz’s, Charles (Jeffrey Jones) and Delia (Catherine O’Hara). With them is their goth daughter Lydia (Winona Ryder). But Adam and Barbara aren’t too happy with the fact that the Deetz’s now call the home theirs, so they decide as ghosts, they can scare the Deetz’s out.
Their plans go awry as the Deetz’s not only can’t see them but are slow to be scared. Lydia, though, has a special ability to see the Maitland’s ghostly forms and tries to help them. Lydia does not like living in the country.
The more the Maitland’s try, the more they fail, and they become desperate. Going against the strict recommendation from their Netherworld caseworker Juno (Sylvia Sydney), the Maitland’s say the name Beetlejuice three times and the bio-exorcist (Michael Keaton) appears, promising the deceased couple he is there to help.
Beetlejuice is a whirlwind of energy each and every time he is on the screen, which isn’t often. He takes over Maitland’s cause but has ideas of his own. He would like to use Lydia so he can return to the mortal world.
The funny thing about Beetlejuice and Michael Keaton is that it takes nearly 26 minutes before the character is first seen. In total, Michael Keaton’s Beetlejuice commands a scant 17 minutes of screen time. To get those 17 minutes out of a 90-minute film, director Tim Burton had to meet with Keaton three times before convincing him to take the role. As Keaton said to Charlie Rose during an interview, “I didn’t understand what he was talking about.”
Bringing Beetlejuice to the big screen was not a simple task for Burton. Not only did he have to convince Michael Keaton to star in the movie, but he also had trouble casting the rest as well. For the role of Lydia, Burton went through a who’s who that included Lori Loughlin, Diane Lane, Sarah Jessica Parker, Brooke Shields, Justine Bateman, Molly Ringwald, and Jennifer Connelly who all turned down the role.
Burton had to go back to screen legend Sylvia Sydney numerous times before she finally gave in to his request. Catherine O’Hara also took some convincing. Geena Davis was the only actor who didn’t need more than one request to sign on the dotted line.
Michael Keaton was making his rounds on the television series circuit before he got his first feature film. He was on shows like Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, Maude, All’s fair, The Mary Tyler Moore Hour, Working Stiffs, and Report to Murphy. They all must have made an impression on a young director named Ron Howard because he chose Keaton to make his debut feature film opposite “The Fonz”, Henry Winkler, in the 1982 hit comedy Night Shift.
Michael Keaton’s hilariously over-the-top turn as Bill Blazejowski, an “idea guy” working with Winkler’s Chuck Lumley on the night shift in New York City’s morgue. Keaton’s energetic and comedic performance shot him straight to the top of the most-wanted list.
He then busted out another comedic role as Jack in Mr. Mom, a father who just lost his job and stays home to raise his kids while his wife goes back to work. Night Shift and Mr. Mom brought on other comedies such as Johnny Dangerously, Gung Ho, Touch and Go, and The Squeeze before Burton’s thrice asking to play Beetlejuice.
Of course, all this led up to another role that Michael Keaton is well-known for, Batman. This was a re-teaming with Tim Burton and would see them do it one more time in Batman Returns. The dynamic duo was even set to go back for a third Batman helping but Burton was eventually dropped as the director, so Keaton decided to bow out himself.
While Keaton’s career continued on, he moved away from comedy-grabbing roles in movies like the underrated The Paper (with Ron Howard), Jackie Brown, Much Ado About Nothing, and Desperate Measures.
He didn’t venture too far away from comedy as he also had roles in Multiplicity, Jack Frost, Herbie Fully Loaded, and The Other Guys.
After appearing in relatively unknown movies, Michael Keaton began his “comeback” with Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). For this film, Keaton was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor, and he won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy.
From there, Michael Keaton jumped back into the comic book movie fray by joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe as villain Adrian Toomes aka the Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming. His role as Toomes looks to be expanding in the MCU as he is appearing in the upcoming Morbius film as is rumored to be in Venom: Let There Be Carnage as well.
The big news, though, is one that fans are highly anticipating and that is Michael Keaton’s return as Batman in the upcoming DC film, The Flash. The announcement, a mere rumor at first, was finally confirmed by the actor after denying his involvement.
While you’re waiting to see Michael Keaton put on the cape and cowl one more time, you can go check out another iconic Keaton role in Beetlejuice, now climbing charts on Hulu.