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Michael Keaton Laughs Off Initial Response to ‘Batman’ Casting: ‘Why People Cared One Way or Another Is Still Baffling’

Superhero culture has come a long way since the 1980s, when making a movie about a comic book character who inspired a campy TV was considered a questionable decision for a studio. But while Tim Burton’s “Batman” was a risk, the Michael Keaton-led film reinvented the superhero movie genre and paved the way for many of the 21st century’s biggest blockbusters.

While Keaton was safe from the toxic online discourse that swarms many contemporary superhero casting announcements these days, he still remembers that comic book fans weren’t thrilled to see him donning Batman’s cape and cowl. In a new video interview with GQ, Keaton recalled his initial shock about being cast in the role and the movie’s unlikely road to success.

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“When they said ‘We’re thinking of doing Batman,’ I said, ‘Wait, you’re thinking of making a movie about Batman?’,” Keaton said before reminiscing about his out-of-left-field casting. “The fact that Tim said ‘That guy, I want that guy’… the fact that people cared one way or another so much is still baffling. But that was a ballsy move on his part. We also had a nice working relationship from ‘Beetlejuice,’ so he felt that he and I could get along and would work well together.”

While Keaton’s memories of making the film were mostly positive, he admitted that he regrets working out so much for the role. He recalled that the muscle he put on actually made it harder to get into the character — something his co-star Jack Nicholson realized sooner than he did.

“One day Jack Nicholson walked by me and goes, ‘What are you doing?’ I said, ‘I’m working out.’ And he said, ‘What are you doing that for?’ I didn’t have an answer for him, he just walked off,” he said. “I approached it totally wrong. It’s better to be really small and little and thin inside the thing. You can move, you can breathe inside. I don’t know what I was thinking, I just thought ‘I’m an actor, I’m gonna do all this stuff!’”

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