Michael Keaton's Return As Beetlejuice Was Like A 'Demon Possession' Behind The Scenes


In 2023, some 30 years after he last donned the cape and cowl, Michael Keaton stepped back into the Batsuit for "The Flash." Keaton defined the character for me and a whole generation of kids who grew up on Tim Burton's infectiously moody takes on the Dark Knight with "Batman" and "Batman Returns." Although "The Flash" was a box office bomb of super-heroic proportions, seeing Keaton back in the suit was a thrill that gave my inner six-year-old a nostalgic jolt unlike any other.

For Keaton himself, it seems wearing the iconic costume for the first time after so long was just as moving an experience. "The Flash" director Andy Muschietti recalled how the "Birdman" star appeared to be having an emotional reaction to being in the suit when he first set foot on set and even wanted pictures to show his grandson that he was Batman.

Now, Keaton is set to star in a legacy sequel in which he'll once again inhabit a character he hasn't played for well over 30 years. "Beetlejuice 2" or "Beetlejuice Beetlejuice" will see the veteran star re-team with Burton to bring the ghost with the most back for one last bio-exorcist thrill ride. While Keaton delivered a brooding, understated performance as the Dark Knight, his Beetlejuice tapped into the man's uncanny talent for physical comedy, and it seems re-inhabiting the character was nothing short of a demonic possession.

Michael Keaton was immediately possessed by the spirit of Beetlejuice

There's lots to look forward to with "Beetlejuice Beetlejuice," including Jenna Ortega's debut as the daughter of Lydia Deetz, played in the original "Beetlejuice" by Winona Ryder. Ryder herself will also return for the sequel, while Willem Dafoe will no doubt deliver a memorable turn as a former "B-movie action star" turned afterlife detective. But there's no question many will be enticed by the prospect of seeing 72-year-old Michael Keaton return in the title role. The centerpiece of the original film, Keaton will surely provide the biggest nostalgia hit for 80s and 90s kids, who evidently shouldn't be worried about the actor's ability to play the role some 36 years after the first film.

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Tim Burton described the process of Keaton donning the classic Beetlejuice costume and makeup as "a weird out-of-body experience," adding:

"He just got back into it. It was kind of scary for somebody who was maybe not that overly interested in doing it. It was such a beautiful thing for me to see all the cast, but he, sort of like demon possession, just went right back into it."

"Beetlejuice Beetlejuice" has been a long time coming, with Burton and Keaton both hesitant to revisit the character unless they had the right story (which explains the director's "somebody who was maybe not that overly interested in doing it" comment). What's reassuring about this latest quote, however, is that Keaton was quite clearly committed to his return as Beetlejuice, and at this stage in his career, it's not all that surprising that he'd be enough of a pro to simply pick up where he left off — especially since the character seemed to have been defined largely by Keaton's own wild, off-kilter energy.

"Beetlejuice Beetlejuice" opens in theaters on September 6, 2024.

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