Michael Keaton dissects the struggles of working in TV, embarking on a drug crusade and revisiting Bruce Wayne

Michael Keaton dissects the struggles of working in TV, embarking on a drug crusade and revisiting Bruce Wayne

Michael Keaton has a reputation for saying no. He doesn’t know how it started, but he knows it. In fact, he almost said no to “Dopesick.”

When his agent first told him about the project, he didn’t think he had time since he had a commitment abroad. Then he was told it was from the creator danny strong and I took a look at the script.

“So it was real. The writing was good, we had a chat and then we were shooting,” says Keaton, who had previously signed on to make a film in London, so all of his scenes were packed into a short period.

“I was told that people call me ‘Doctor No’ because apparently I often say no. I don’t think I’ve really said no to so many things. The things I said no to, there was a reason. It wasn’t like I was over it. It just didn’t fit my life or I didn’t think I could do the job very well,” he explains. “There were many times when I looked at something and thought, ‘There’s probably 50 guys who could do this better than me.’ But I had never done anything like this.

After agreeing to take over the show, Strong began writing more episodes.

“We were so lucky to have Michael Keaton to star in ‘Dopesick’ because he is one of the most talented actors in the industry,” the writer said. “He exudes an innate depth and kindness and has an incredible emotional range that was perfect for capturing the highs and lows of Dr. Finnix’s complex journey.”

At the time, Keaton was working on other projects, then eventually got sent to new scripts. “I realized, ‘Whoa, boy, this is going to be a lot harder than I thought.’ But I was already in it.

The Hulu limited series, based on Beth Macy’s nonfiction book, “Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America,” examines the horrific opioid crisis and its impact on so many; for Keaton, it’s personal because he lost a nephew to drug addiction.

“It’s so sad, but remember years ago when people finally started saying, ‘Well, we’re all affected by cancer because it affects everyone in some way. of another.’ At first it sounds like an exaggerated statement. Then you realize, wait a minute, it’s true. Well, that’s how it is now with the opioid crisis,” he says. “And fentanyl is a whole other thing. I mean, it’s the horrible stepson or something.

When he started reading more episodes and the book, there were times that he felt was “too over the nose” and pitting the “good guys against the bad guys.” So, as a producer, he went to Strong and talked about it. Then the showrunner would send Keaton an article or proof of the intensity of the situation. “I would say, ‘Well, okay, maybe that’s not an exaggeration. “”

For viewers, it’s hard not to get upset or even upset about how the crisis unfolded. For Keaton, he had to put each of those emotions behind him.

“Overall – and this is a cynical and sad comment – I’m almost not offended by anything. You can spend your whole life being angry, but it’s going to wear you down to the point of ineffectiveness. as a citizen,” he says. “That’s not to say I’m not really pissed off at times yet. But it really doesn’t get you anywhere.

Fortunately, he finds things every day that make him happy. he likes to read the newspaper – usually two if not three different newspapers – every day and watch some TV. Right now it’s Apple TV+’s “Severance,” which he says he’s “obsessed with.”

While the actor has appeared on television several times over the years, “Dopesick” was Keaton’s very first series in which he starred from start to finish. So was it a fun process?

“Ish,” he said, laughing. “At one point I said to Danny, ‘I’ll never do that again. “”

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Michael Keaton won a SAG Award and is now up for an Emmy for “Dopesick.”
Anthony Platt/Hulu

However, he knows that this show “will spawn other problem-oriented series”, which makes him happy. In fact, he’s in talks for another project based on a book he’s “planning” to do – but isn’t ready to share more yet.

“I really admire all these people who make these hour-long shows that go on for years and years and years. It’s hard to do, except they get really, fucking rich!” he says before to crack up and reminisce about his old friend, Mark Harmon, who ran “NCIS” for 18 years and was one of the highest-paid television actors at the time.

Keaton says the duo used to play softball together and once bought a 1956 Ford pickup truck from Harmon which he restored.

“Every time I think of him, I’m like, ‘How much money does he have? He must have so much money!’ Keaton jokes, “I was like, ‘He should have given me this truck. I should never have paid for this!’

So, does that mean the movie star will be doing more TV shows in the future? It’s entirely possible.

“I think I’m too lazy. I don’t know if I have the stamina for this. But I’m behind the game – pound for pound, TV writing is so superior,” he says, noting that it makes financial sense that people want to stay home and watch TV.

But still, it’s about the script. If it’s well written, that’s enough to say yes.

“Before it was like, have I ever done this before? If I was a little scared, or I was like ‘Whoa, I don’t know if I could do this’, I was kind of motivated by that,” he says. “In the beginning, you could kind of explore and experiment. If something was good enough, you would say yes to see if you could play it. Now and for many, many years now, it’s very simple: the writing is good or it’s not good. And then you try your luck with the director. It’s not complicated.”

Another thing that isn’t complicated? His pure love for cinema – and the feeling of walking into a movie theatre. “I sit there and go, ‘Oh, man, I forgot how awesome this is. There is no such thing. There will never be anything like it. »

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Michael Keaton in “Batman Returns”.
©Warner Bros/courtesy Everett Collection

And so far, acting is where Keaton’s career has flourished. He was Jack in “Mr. Mom.” Five years later, he became Beetlejuice for the 1988 Tim Burton film of the same name. And then, a year later, he teamed up with Burton again to play Bruce Wayne/Batman in “Batman” and later, “Batman Returns.” He pulled out of the third film when Burton was no longer attached.

Some 30 years later, he handed over the costume for the next “Flash” movie. “It has to be good, and there has to be a reason,” he said. Told Variety Last year discussing what would make him come back.

So, we followed this: what is the reason?

Turns out, the answer is pretty simple: “It sounded like fun.”

“I was curious what it would be like after so many years. It’s not so much me doing it – obviously, part of it – but I was just curious about it, weirdly, socially. Everything this is gigantic. They have their own world,” he says of the DC and Marvel character universes. “So I like to see him as an outsider, thinking ‘Holy moly!'”

Keaton credits director Richard Donner and star Christopher Reeve for setting the superhero world on fire with 1978’s “Superman.” But Burton, he claims, “changed everything.”

“I know people don’t believe it, that I’ve never seen a full version of any of these movies – no Marvel movies, no other. And I’m not saying I don’t watch this because I’m nerd – believe me! That’s not it,” he said. “It’s just that there’s very little I watch. is great and I’m watching three episodes, but I have other stuff to do!

What really appealed to him was the big picture of superhero storytelling and the fact that no one ever knew it would become what it is today. Plus, he notes, “the writing was really, really good!”

“So I thought, why not? It’s cool to come and I’m curious to see if I can pull it off.

Since Keaton hasn’t watched any other superhero movies — there have been seven actors who’ve played the Caped Crusader since — he admits it was a bit confusing stepping back into that world.

Bruce Wayne has changed a bit since the last time Keaton played him, the actor is reminded.

After a brief pause, he replies with a smirk, “Not mine.”

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