There could be no better Beetlejuice, obviously, than the instantly lovable obnoxious poltergeist Michael Keaton gifted us with. Keaton’s performance and visage seemed to be custom-tailored for him. It appears, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. With Keaton reprising his role of Batman in The Flash, it has fans reminiscing, back to the time when Tim Burton sought out Michael Keaton for two of his iconic roles. After watching their monumental careers, it seems quaint to think of these two first meeting and discussing a wacky idea that blossomed into a beloved Halloween staple.
When Tim Burton approached Michael Keaton for the role of Betelgeuse and his vision for the film, Keaton admits “I had no idea what he was talking about, but I liked him,” he says of Burton. “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.'”
Tim Burton set up another meeting with the Mr. Mom star to give it another shot in conveying his vision. “When you see (the movie), you understand probably why it was hard for him to explain.” It took three separate and determined tries from Burton to explain his movie, and then the third time something finally clicked. “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.”
Keaton gave Burton a call, and said he had come up with something he thought Burton would like. “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 I said ‘I want mold because Tim said he lives under rocks,'” Keaton recalled. “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.” Burton clearly loved the Keaton creation. “He got it immediately,” Keaton said of the moment.
Now that we’ve seen Burton’s signature dark and whimsical world utilized throughout his career from Edward Scissorhands to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it seems Keaton was a mind reader, because his Betelgeuse is on point! Kudos, Mr. Keaton!
While fact-checking I found a few Beetlejuice bits that, while not related, I couldn’t help but include. Burton made an impassioned plea for Rat Packer Sammy Davis, Jr. to play Betelgeuse, as the entertainer was one Burton’s favorites growing up but the studio execs weren’t having it.
Among others, Sarah Jessica Parker, Brooke Shields and Molly Ringwald are among the young actresses who allegedly turned down the role of Lydia Deetz. Juliette Lewis auditioned, but Winona Ryder ultimately won Burton’s heart with her role in Lucas.
The film was almost called Scared Sheetless. And lastly, Winona Ryder told Seth Meyers of Beetlejuice 2, which was in the works in 2017 saying, “I think I can confirm it. It was very hush-hush top secret … but then [Tim Burton] was doing some press for Big Eyes and and he did an on-camera interview and he said, ‘Oh yeah, we’re doing it, and Winona’s going to be in it.’ … If he said it, I can say it.” You’ve got to be sheeting me. Don’t tease us, Winona!