Beetlejuice to Batman: Michael Keaton reexamines his iconic roles on ‘Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend’

TV & Film August 26, 2021
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Michael Keaton has indeed agreed to be Conan’s friend. Not that he had much of a choice: the two are neighbors and Conan took up running just because he saw Michael running on their street. Talk about obsessed.

But this episode with the man who reinvented the modern superhero is one of the best from “Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend.” While Keaton talks through his childhood influences in acting, this episode revolves around his role in Warner Brothers Batman and the characters return in an upcoming movie. Keaton’s breakthrough in Hollywood came when he starred in Ron Howard’s Night Shift, putting him on the map of one of the lead comedic actors in the industry. He became a landmark leading man in the comedy Mr. Mom, effectively pigeon-holing him in the eyes of global audiences.

Then came 1988. He gave an acclaimed dramatic performance in Glenn Gordon Caron’s Clean and Sober and was also cast as the titular character in Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice. He and Burton went on to create one of the most influential superhero movies in modern times with Batman. Conan brings up how he remembers when Keaton was cast and the thousands of complaint letters from fans who believed Keaton was the wrong choice for Bruce Wayne. People could not envision the comedic Keaton playing the severely serious character of the Dark Knight. Keaton recalls not caring what people thought, and now his name has become synonymous with the hero.

He is reigniting his original Batman in the upcoming film The Flash, which is not scheduled for release until 2022. He talks about how his Batman experience three decades later is so vastly different from even Burton’s star studded film.

A Three Stooges Yelp review

Besides both being highly criticized when they were new on the scene (Conan replacing David Letterman was a highly contentious decision), Conan and Keaton have a lot in common. Most of this stems from the media they grew up watching in the mid-1970s, which was actually old movies that would fill non-primetime slots. Conan mentions Angels With Dirty Faces and I’m A Yankee-Doodle Dandy as the pieces he saw as modern cinema, while in fact they were four decades old in 1975. They reminisce on their love for Johnny Dangerously and John Garfield, and appreciating all they’ve done for cinema.

One of the highlights of the episode has to be Conan’s ruminations on what the Three Stooges would do in the modern world. Keaton remembers not finding The Three Stooges all that funny, his preference was geared towards the Margaret Dumont-style comedic foils who somehow put up with the three beating the snot out of each other. Conan goes on to hilariously give a Yelp review to the Stooges, one that would effectively end whatever their careers were.

This is an A+ episode from “Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend” with Michael Keaton. The two are even more hilarious together than they are apart and Keaton proves to be as captivating off-screen as he is on. Listen now on the Audacy app!

Listen to ‘Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend’

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