Michael Keaton (born Michael John Douglas, September 5, 1951) is an American actor, director, producer, singer/songwriter and comedian whose blue eyes will burn into your soul. Nah, he's actually a pretty easy goin' guy.
His real name is Michael John Douglas, but since there was already a Michael Douglas (and a Mike Douglas) in the Screen Actors Guild, which doesn't permit doubles on its rolls, he chose to use the last name of Keaton partly due to Buster Keaton and partly because he heard the name and thought it sounded good (he has never legally changed his name, though).
After cutting his teeth in TV sitcoms, at the start of his film career Keaton was best known for starring in comedies such as Mr. Mom, Johnny Dangerously, and Tim Burton's Beetlejuice, although he would become notable for his range in both comedy and drama when he was cast again by Burton as the eponymous character in his then latest gig, Batman, which was to be a return to the character's roots as a grim avenger of the night. Fans did not open up to the casting at first and sent letters to Warner Bros. expressing their disdain by citing that Keaton had only done comedy and was too short and too "ugly" to play Batman. A quick trailer was released by WB, showcasing a glimpse of Keaton's badassery and seriousness in the role, and most fans were won over and bought tickets. Needless to say, the film was a huge commercial success and was the biggest money-maker of 1989, with many of the same fans who were skeptical of Keaton's casting pushing for him to receive an Oscar nomination for his performance.
Keaton and Burton returned to the franchise with Batman Returns; while it still raked in the dough, it didn't do as well as the first, which could be attributed to the outrage over it being even darker than its predecessor. Keaton was initially attached to Batman Forever and even did some costume testing, but when Warner Bros. demoted Burton to producer and Keaton looked at the Lighter and Softer screenplay that got the thumbs-up from new director Joel Schumacher, he left the franchise and was replaced by Val Kilmer. Keaton is still very fondly remembered in the role - even as others have gone to leave their own mark on the character. In fact, there has been fan wishing for a live-action film adaptation of Batman Beyond with Keaton as the elder Bruce Wayne.
He's also dabbled in directing, with his first film The Merry Gentleman appearing at the Sundance Festival in 2008, and he's done a few small other things since then; including being the executive producer for the films The Last Time - in which he also starred - and Body Shots, as well as performing the songs "Don't Lose Your Faith" (which he also wrote the lyrics to) and "Frosty The Snowman" from the soundtrack for Jack Frost.
With no signs of retiring any time soon, Keaton is keeping his roles diverse by alternating between comedy and drama, and he lent his vocal talents to a Ken doll in Toy Story 3. Keaton's appeal is best described in this article in The Onion.
He has said that he would be interested in reprising his iconic role of Betelgeuse, as he maintains it's still his favorite role of all time; unfortunately, nothing more seems to have come of it, and the film remains trapped in Development Hell.
He made a major comeback with the critically acclaimed Birdman, with many people calling it the best movie of 2014, and saying Keaton should have gotten the Oscar for Best Actor. In fact, it was nominated for nine Oscars, with Keaton getting a nom for "Best Actor;" the film has won over a hundred awards, including the Best Picture Oscar. He cemented his comeback with a leading role in Spotlight the following year, which also won the Best Picture Oscar.
- Howard in A Different Approach (1978)
- Bill Blazejowski in Night Shift (1982)
- Jack in Mr. Mom (1983)
- Johnny Kelly/Johnny Dangerously in Johnny Dangerously (1984)
- Hunt Stevenson in Gung Ho (1986)
- Betelgeuse in Beetlejuice (1988)
- Daryl Poynter in Clean And Sober (1988)
- Billy Caufield in The Dream Team (1989)
- Bruce Wayne/Batman in Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992)
- Carter Hayes in Pacific Heights (1990)
- Artie Lewis in One Good Cop (1991)
- Porco in Disney's English-language dub of Porco Rosso (Original released in 1992, although not dubbed until later)
- Bob Jones in My Life (1993)
- Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing (1993)
- Henry Hackett in The Paper (1994)
- Kevin Vallick in Speechless (1994)
- Doug Kinney and his clones in Multiplicity (1996)
- Ray Nicolette in Jackie Brown (1997)
- Ray Nicolette in Out of Sight (1998)
- Peter McGabe in Desperate Measures (1998)
- Jack Frost in Jack Frost (1998)
- Blaine Sternin in an episode of Frasier in 2002.
- Chick Hicks in Cars (2006)
- Frank Logan in The Merry Gentleman (2008)
- Police chief Mauch in The Other Guys (2010)
- Ken in Toy Story 3 (2010)
- Raymond Sellars in RoboCop (2014)
- Monarch in Need for Speed (2014)
- Riggan Thomson/Birdman in Birdman (2014)
- Walter 'Robby' Robinson in Spotlight (2015)
- Ray Kroc in The Founder (2016)
- Adrian Toomes/The Vulture in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Sony's Universe of Marvel Characters
- V. A. Vandemere in Dumbo (2019)
- Actor Allusion: In Birdman he played an actor who was famous for playing a winged-animal-themed superhero, alluding to his role as Batman (1989); then in Spider-Man: Homecoming he played another bird-themed comic book character, this time a villain.
- Badass Baritone: When he's not playing comedic nice guys, he makes use of a surprisingly deep and resonant voice.
- Cool Old Guy: Even approaching 70, he's still a versatile actor, and proved to be a credible villain in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
- Old Shame: His attempt at stand-up comedy, according to him.
- What Could Have Been: According to an interview he gave on The Late Show, before he settled on "Keaton" as his stage surname he considered riffing off a family nickname and becoming "Michael Jackson".