Is it too early to declare that thanks to Birdman Michael Keaton is officially back? Not that he ever went completely away, but we all know Michael Keaton movies have been rather scarce over the past two decades. I enjoyed his brief screen time in The Other Guys, and while I didn’t see the RoboCop reboot, I’m sure he was pleasant enough. As far as movies with Michael Keaton in the lead though, we had Multiplicity in 1996 and White Noise in 2005, and that’s about it. It’s not necessarily that he wasn’t being offered lead roles in the 90s, it’s just that he wasn’t taking them, choosing instead to work when he wanted to on small projects and enjoy spending time with his sons. He gave a in-depth interview earlier this year on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast where talks about his seclusion and it’s certainly worth a listen if you’ve been wondering “what the hell happened to Michael Keaton?”
Back to those roles that Michael Keaton was offered and declined though — there’s been a lot of them. Most of the bigger ones happened to be between 1985 and 1995 when he had considerable industry heat thanks to movies like Mr. Mom, Beetlejuice and of course, Batman. Personally, I think Keaton could have turned in a performance just as good or better than a few of the actors that landed these parts. (Sorry, John Travolta.) Here are 10 roles that could have been Michael Keaton’s.
1. Police Academy (1984) — Back in our movie facts post dedicated to Police Academy, it was revealed that Bruce Willis went up against Steve Guttenberg for the part of Mahoney. Before the part was finally given to “the Guttes” it was rejected by Michael Keaton and Judge Reinhold.
2. Splash (1984) — Don’t get me wrong, Tom Hanks is great in Splash, but Michael Keaton could have been just as good if not better. For starters, Michael Keaton would have never put up with his mermaid girlfriend shrieking in an electronics store and blowing up thousands of dollars worth of pricey merchandise. Keaton was offered a role in comedy, with some sources saying it was Tom Hanks’ part and others claiming it was John Candy’s. Michael Keaton doesn’t seem to be entirely sure, but he knows he turned it down. Via Grantland:
Daniel: Tom Hanks’s part in Splash?
Daniel: And why —
Michael: Because … Wait a minute, was it Hanks? Or was it Candy’s part? I think it was Candy’s part.
3. The Fly (1986) — Keaton was offered the part of mad scientist Dr. Seth Brundle in the incredibly gross sci-fi classic, but turned it down to work on Gung Ho and Touch and Go instead. Jeff Goldblum of course was chosen to make the man-to-bug transformation.
4. JFK (1991) — Kevin Costner was just one of several actors considered by Oliver Stone for the part of Jim Garrison. Besides Michael Keaton, Harrison Ford, Alec Baldwin, and Michael Douglas were all discussed as possibilities.
5. Leap of Faith (1992) — Michael Keaton has never said why he decided not to do the comedy/drama about a shady televangelist, but was already signed on to play the lead role when he abruptly quit the project. The movie was a flop at the theaters, so it wasn’t really much of a loss on Keaton’s part when Steve Martin took over for him.