Michael Keaton plays a billionaire businessman behind the robotics in the updated version of “RoboCop” that opens Feb. 12. He says the role was based partly on Steve Jobs.
OK. That officially gets the “RoboCop” part of the interview out of the way. Being a comic book geek. I had to take the opportunity to ask Keaton about playing Batman. In a small way, it’s a logical topic as both Keaton and Joel Kinnaman — who plays the new RoboCop — have had to act with something covering three-quarters of their face.
“Joel’s job is particularly difficult because people don’t know how hard it is to do what you need to do. Your natural — or unnatural instinct — would be to say ‘Let’s face it. I’m in this suit which out of context is kind of ridiculous.’ But, he makes these unbelievable transitions from human to robot to human and robot which is really hard to do when you’re wearing a big black suit,” Keaton says. “It was really extraordinary what he did. He probably won’t get the credit for the degree of difficulty that was required.
“A long time ago, when they asked me when I made the first ‘Batman’ I made a joke, but I was actually serious, that I just worked the suit.”
There were no guarantees that Keaton was going to be able to work the suit because he suffers with claustrophobia. The suits got more comfortable with “Batman Returns,” but the first one was so attached to his body, that even turning his head was a challenge.
Keaton explains the first time he looked to the right while wearing the costume, he turned his head and tore the entire side of the cowl that was attached to his face. He stands up to show how out of necessity, each time Batman needed to turn his face, he would turn his whole body just to keep from tearing another cowl.
The suit was so snug that it took hours to put on and take off. Keaton loves to drink coffee while working but had to curb the liquids when wearing the suit. He couldn’t even sit down but would lean against an angled board to get some rest.
All of the tightness created some minor panic attacks. Instead of giving in to his fears, Keaton used them.
“I realized this was perfect. It was designed for this Bruce Wayne guy who has this other personality that is really dark and really alone,” Keaton says. “I took all that stuff the suit was giving me and I got how to do the role. It’s odd how things like that happen to an actor.”