Michael Keaton, stardom and obscurity | With a 40-year career, he is still in the Hollywood spotlight

“With Michael Keaton, Michael Keaton and Michael Keaton”, announced with great fanfare the planned marketing campaign for my other self, comedy directed by Harold Ramis in 1996. It’s a demanding performance, or indeed a series of performances, by the star; one that shows why, more than 40 years after its big screen debut, Michael Keaton remains a highly sought after man in the industry.

In the classic of British comedy The eight condemned (1949), Alec Guinness he also distinguished himself by taking on nine different roles. In my other selfKeaton plays the same character in several ways. There’s Doug Kinney, an overworked construction manager and family man whose life is spinning out of his control. Doug doesn’t have time for his wife and her kids. A geneticist offers to solve your work-life balance problems cloning it. From then on, the viewer encounters some variations on the same personality: versions of Doug as the alpha male, the shy, the sensitive, the good in the kitchen and a notoriously compromised second generation clone, a bit boring, with a much lower IQ than the other models.

as pointed out my other self, Keaton is the most fickle of movie actors. You can flip a coin and change in mood and personalityplaying exuberant and abrasive characters one moment and oppressed and introspective the next.

In recent weeks, Keaton has been engaging in new shape-shifting maneuvers. He is back in theaters with a cameo of great impact like Adrian Toomes / Vulture in the superhero movie Morbio. Here the star appears evil pantomimeresuming the role in which he had shown himself Spider-Man: Homecoming. He is a quick-tempered, quick-tempered, and malevolent criminal, so blatantly evil that posters are expected to appear prompting the audience to whistle him in the very short time he appears on screen (there is a strong indication that will reappear more prominently the next time Morbius resurfaces).

It’s a long way from the world of Marvel comic characters to recent TV series drug addict, so Keaton won the Screen Actors Guild Award last month. There the actor plays Samuel Finnix, a doctor in a Virginia mining town. In the first few episodes he appears as the perfect family doctor for the community. Finnix knows his patients and their families. It is he who advises and listens to them, he is the most reliable source of medical advice. However, when he starts prescribing a new “miracle” pain reliever. OxyContin, the consequences are disastrous. Along with many of his patients, he himself is addicted to drugs.

The most impressive thing about Keaton in Sick of drugs is its common type quality. He’s like one of those nice little characters from the province of James Stewart in old movies Franco Capra on corruption in Washington DC. It is painful to see this modest and humble man caught in the grip of a destructive addiction after a lifetime of helping others avoid pain. is an unusually pessimistic character, one that Keaton claimed he took as a tribute to his grandson, who he “lost to drugs,” as he noted in his SAG Awards acceptance speech. And your job is Excellentin a role that does not give the slightest chance to any comic traits.

Laughter is generally expected when it comes to Keaton, but there are a few other films with a similarly somber tone where it plays in the same tone. stubborn and naturalistic. He can be seen, for example, as Walter “Robby” Robinson, the reporter who leads a group of investigative reporters in On the front page, the film of Thomas McCarthy winner of a Oscar on Boston journalists who denounced abuses in the Catholic Church. There she wears elegant trousers and flawlessly ironed shirts. If you didn’t know him that well, you might think he is an accountant or office manager. Like many of the actor’s most memorable on-screen characters, he is too competitive and very tenacious. “I want to keep digging,” he tells his team. Nothing will be able to take you off the track you are following.

On the front page was the film that followed an equally significant but diametrically different title from another Keaton film, Birdman or (the unexpected virtue of ignorance)from Alejandro González Inarritusince 2014, also multi-award winning Oscar.

It is as if the actor took both projects at the same time remind the audience that they are still in the game. A decade ago, viewers and casting directors had begun to cross him off their list. Mentioning his name during that time immediately sent fans back to his glory days in the movies. Tim Burton Cockroach juice Y Batman. Nothing he was doing gave him a new presence or wowed the fans. He has starred in romantic comedies and action films. One measure of how much his popularity had sunk was that his most successful film at the time was an animated film, Cars (Pixar, 2006), in which he lent his voice Hicks chicka flashy green sports car that always came second to star Lightning McQueen’s tracks.

The faded, old-fashioned look Keaton made it the ideal choice for Birdman. If the actor had still enjoyed a successful film career, Iñárritu probably wouldn’t have noticed. The years of (relative) failure they gave it an extra depth, an emotional mileage. the character of him inside Birdman, Riggan Thomas was once a prominent name in action movies, but is now trying to gain some artistic respectability by putting on a Broadway stage. He has a terrible relationship with his he daughter (Emma Stone)a recovering drug addict, and seems on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Iñárritu drew on qualities previously only seen in separate Keaton films. On the one hand, the Mexican director allowed the actor to show the bare wire feed associated with his films with Tim Burton. On the other hand, he gave him the opportunity to do so reconnect with your inner idiot. One scene in particular stands out in the mind: Keaton running around Times Square in his underwear. It is a moment of symbolic comic humiliation in which the actor, left out of the theater, is seen not only by the extras of the film but also by real life tourists This was Hollywood’s answer to the rituals high school students dedicate to newcomers in movies like College of animals.

Keaton likes to be a clown, and is brilliant in improvised comedy. The old material can be found on YouTube in the early 1980s, in appearances on the TV show David Letterman, entering the scene by leaning on his hands. In those days he was considered the most abrasive of the new stand-up comedians, always ready to throw punches.

he had acted with Henry Winkler (the Fonzie of the TV series happy days) in night service (Ron Howard, 1982). There they embodied the employees of a morgue who earned extra money like cafishios, who runs a ring of prostitutes from his workplace. Whenever Bill Blazejowski, the character of Keaton, appears on the screen, he sings the lines of the theme song to himself. The rolling stones “Jumpin ‘Jack Flash” or the recording of his latest brain waves on a portable recorder. He is hyperactive and very funny; Winkler is the right guy, lean and sober.

Few could have foreseen it that dizzying, energetic young man would have become such a seasoned character actor. In his early work, Keaton was a ball of relentless and maniacal energy; however, one of his main passions besides acting was the fishing. It’s an incongruous picture: the demonic killer of people Beetlejuice standing languidly on the river bank, casting his line, trying to catch a trout.

“I could tell my friends and they would laugh. They just wouldn’t know what I was talking about or think I was kidding them,” the actor commented on that unsuspected passion on the fly fishing website. Current average. “If they had known, they would have thought that, given my personality, I was joking, which obviously wasn’t the kind of thing I could do. What they didn’t understand – now there are people who understand it – is that it’s a place where you can be adrift and at the same time absolutely sheltered. “

On the screen, Keaton never goes adrift. He is always present on the matter. It is revealing to see in need of energy (2016), the biopic of John Lee Hancock about Ray Kroc, the American businessman / traveler who turned into fast food McDonald’s into a global brand, but it squeezed its soul and standards in the process. Born in 1951, Keaton was around 60 when he took on the character, but he still acted in the same relentless, adrenaline-pumping style he exhibited earlier in his career.

The film opens with Keaton in the foreground talking to the camera, setting his sales pitch. He is embarrassing to watch. He is somewhat creepy. “If you increase your stocks, the demand will come”, repeat your favorite phrase several times, speeding up the words. When the camera finally retracts, the viewer realizes that they are in a very modest bar and that the older owner is trying to shake it off. I can’t make sales. Keaton captures the salesperson’s aggressive ambition by giving it a certainty existential patina. There are very few actors in contemporary Hollywood who can cover both of these bases so effectively. It is the reason why, after over 40 years of fame in the film, he can still play the everyday heroes and villains of Marvel. He may be in his seventies, but no one has cast him for the role of an old man yet.

* From The independent From Great Britain. Special for Page 12.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.