Director Tim Burton has a unique vision for movies, his projects come with ominous music and dark themes, along with offbeat characters make for a fabulous Burton movie. But one beloved character with an iconic and famous look was actually thought up by the actor who played him.
The Hollywood Reporter recently revealed a 2014 interview with Charlie Rose, in which Golden Globe winner Michael Keaton spoke about his role in the 1988 movie Beetlejuice. He first talked about meeting Burton, but turning down the role twice after not the concept for the film:
“I had no idea what he was talking about, but I liked him. I said, ‘I wish I could do it. You seem like a really nice guy and I know you’re creative, but I don’t get it…When you see [the movie], you understand probably why it was hard for him to explain.”
It would be hard to get someone to get the movie just by description. But Keaton said yes in the third meeting, and it was there that he started to have a vision for the title character.
“I said, ‘Give me the night or two days’ and I called the wardrobe department at the studio and said, ‘Send me a bunch of wardrobes from different time periods, randomly. Just pick a rack. … And then I thought of an idea of teeth and an idea of a walk and I knew it had been there, and I called and said ‘I got an idea, and I don’t know if it’s going to work or not, so let’s just go do this thing.’”
Keaton went also said that Burton wasn’t involved in any of the creative processes in making Beetlejuice’s look, but he really liked what Keaton ended up with.
“Here’s the amazing part about it: He never saw any of it. We discussed it. I said ‘I want hair that looks like I stuck my finger in an electrical socket.’ And to the great Ve Neill in wardrobe, I said ‘I want mold because Tim said he lives under rocks.’ So I showed up for work and I walked on the stage and said, ‘This is either going to be way off the mark, or he’s going to — I don’t know what he’s going to do. He got it immediately.”
The movie was a tremendous success and it becomes a fan favorite and a memorable movie from its era. I’m very happy that Keaton stuck it out and was able to not only see Burton’s vision but come up with a creation all his own that was excellent for the movie and for the character.