Keaton left Pittsburgh and moved to Los Angeles to begin auditioning for various TV parts. He cropped up in various popular TV shows including Maude (1977) and The Mary Tyler Moore Hour (1979). Around this time Keaton decided to use an alternative surname to remove confusion with well known actor Michael Douglas, as well as satisfying SAG rules, and after reading an article on actress Diane Keaton, he decided on "Michael Keaton".
His next key break was scoring a co-lead alongside James Belushi in the short-lived comedy series Working Stiffs (1979), which showcased his comedic talent and got him into the casting for the co-lead in Night Shift (1982). His role as the hilariously fast-talking schemer Bill "Blaze" Blazejowski alongside nerdish morgue attendant Henry Winkler earned Keaton some critical acclaim, and he scored leads in the subsequent comedy hits Mr. Mom (1983), Johnny Dangerously (1984), and Gung Ho (1986).
His role as the title character in the 1988 Tim Burton horror-comedy Beetlejuice, which starred Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Catherine O'Hara, and Winona Ryder, earned Keaton widespread acclaim and boosted him to the A-list. That same year, Keaton also gave an acclaimed dramatic performance as a drug addicted businessman in Clean and Sober. Newsweek featured him in a story during this time.
Keaton's career was given another major boost when he was again cast by Tim Burton, this time as the superhero Batman in the 1989 film Batman. Burton cast him because he thought that Keaton was the only actor who could believably portray someone who has the kind of darkly obsessive personality that the character demands. After the Keaton casting, Warner Bros. received thousands of letters of complaint by fans commenting that the comedic Keaton was the wrong choice for Gotham City's creature of the night, given his prior work in comedies and the fact that he lacked the suave, handsome features and tall, muscular physicality often attributed to the character in the comic books. However, Keaton earned critical acclaim for his sophisticated and landmark performance, making Batman the highest-grossing film of the year.
According to Keaton, he was astounded when he was first considered as Batman since he was only familiar with the 1960s Batman television series starring Adam West, but it wasn't until Burton introduced Keaton to Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns that Keaton really understood the dark and brooding side of Batman that he portrayed to much fan approval. Keaton returned to wear the black cape and cowl again in 1992's Batman Returns which was another critical and financial success, though also received controversy for being darker than the original.
He was prepared to return for 1995's Batman Forever, even going so far as to show up for costume fitting. However, when Burton was dropped by Warner Bros. (slated to co-producer), Keaton left the series after being dissatisfied with the screenplay the new director, Joel Schumacher, approved, which Keaton considered to be lighter in tone in comparison to the past two Batman movies. According to the A&E Biography episode on Michael Keaton, after he had refused the first time (due to analysis of the script and meetings with Schumacher), Warner Brothers then offered him $35,000,000 (one of the highest salaries offered to an actor at the time), but Keaton steadfastly refused. Keaton was subsequently succeeded by Val Kilmer. In marked contrast to their initial reaction, many fans complaining about the following two Batman films (including 1997's Batman & Robin, starring George Clooney as Batman) often demanded not only that Tim Burton be rehired as director but that Keaton be hired as well.
In 2006, Keaton starred in an independent film called Game 6, a semi-thriller based around the infamous 1986 World Series bid by the Boston Red Sox. Also in 2006, Keaton made a cameo in the Tenacious D short film, Time Fixers, an iTunes exclusive. The 9-minute film was released to coincide with Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny (2006). Keaton has also just been announced to be the lead in Media 8 Entertainment's upcoming film Reaper, a supernatural thriller, expected for a 2008 release. He has also recently agreed to star as John Target in the Matt Evans scripted No Rule To Make Target. He is directing the drama movie The Merry Gentleman. Keaton was also cast as Dr. Jack Shephard in the series Lost, understanding that the role of Jack would have been small. On finding that it would be a long-running role, Keaton withdrew the offer and it was later given to actor Matthew Fox. Keaton also starred in the 2007 TV mini-series The Company, set during the Cold War, in which he portrayed the real-life CIA counterintelligence chief James Jesus Angleton. The role garnered Keaton a 2008 SAG nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries. He is slated to join the Toy Story cast for the upcoming Toy Story 3, where he will provide the voice of Ken, Barbie's friend.
|1978||A Different Approach||Filmmaker|
|1982||Night Shift||Bill Blazejowski|
|1984||Johnny Dangerously||Johnny Kelly (AKA Johnny Dangerously)|
|1986||Gung Ho||Hunt Stevenson|
|Touch and Go||Bobby Barbato|
|1987||The Squeeze||Harry Berg|
|1988||She's Having a Baby||Himself||uncredited cameo|
|Clean and Sober||Daryl Poynter|
|1989||The Dream Team||Billy Caufield|
|1990||Pacific Heights||Carter Hayes|
|1991||One Good Cop||Artie Lewis|
|1992||Batman Returns||Batman/Bruce Wayne|
|Porco Rosso||Porco Rosso||voice in 2003 English dubbed version|
|1993||Much Ado About Nothing||Dogberry|
|My Life||Bob Jones|
|1994||The Paper||Henry Hackett|
|1997||Inventing the Abbotts||narrator||uncredited|
|Jackie Brown||Ray Nicolette|
|1998||Desperate Measures||Peter McCabe|
|Out of Sight||Ray Nicolette||Cameo|
|Jack Frost||Jack Frost|
|2000||A Shot at Glory||Peter Cameron|
|2002||Live from Baghdad||Robert Wiener||Nominated - Golden Globe Award - Best Actor in a Television Mini-Series or Motion Picture|
|2004||First Daughter||President Mackenzie|
|2005||White Noise||Jonathan Rivers|
|Game 6||Nicky Rogan|
|Herbie: Fully Loaded||Ray Peyton Sr.|
|The Last Time||Ted|
|2007||The Company||James Angleton||Nominated - Screen Actors Guild Award - Best Actor in a Mini-Series or Television Movie|
|2008||The Merry Gentleman||Frank Logan|
|Noah's Ark: The New Beginning||Noah||voice|
|2009||The Post Grad Survival Guide||Walter Malby|
|2010||Toy Story 3||Ken(Barbie)||rumored|
|1976||All's Fair||Lannie Wolf|
|1978||Mary (1978)||Skit characters|
|The Tony Randall Show||Zeke|
|1979||The Mary Tyler Moore Hour||Kenneth Christy|
|Working Stiffs||Mike O'Rourke|
|1982||Report To Murphy||Murphy|
|2004||Fred Rogers: America's Favorite Neighbor||Host||Nominated - Emmy Award - Outstanding Nonfiction Special|
Before his big break (while still credited as Michael Douglas), Keaton did a billboard ad for the Architect Jeans Company. In an interview in 2003 for Live from Baghdad, Keaton stated how that the director of the Architect commercial, Spike Jonze, became fast friends with Keaton.
Keaton originally turned down the leads in both Batman films. With the first movie, he didn't see himself in the role. The second time, he was dissatisfied with the screenplay—only agreeing after a serious hike in the salary.
He was originally turned down for the title role in Beetlejuice, but he was reconsidered by its director Tim Burton. Keaton now considers Beetlejuice his favorite of his own films.
Many of Keaton's most memorable films have an automotive theme: He played racing car Chick Hicks in Pixar's animated film, Cars. That same year, he played the pit captain for a family racing team in Herbie: Fully Loaded. He was a car maker in Mr. Mom and Gung Ho.
Cover Story: Fully Loaded with the Acting Bug; MICHAEL KEATON TELLS JOHN MILLAR WHY HE'S DELIGHTED TO BE MAKING MOVIES AGAIN
Jul 16, 2005; Byline: JOHN MILLAR MICHAEL KEATON, trim and muscled in a tight-fitting open-neck shirt and jeans, still looks in good enough...