Don’t call it a comeback: Michael Keaton on biding time, waiting for a ‘Birdman’

SANTA MONICA – It's been really easy for the media to talk about “Birdman” and Michael Keaton's award-winning performance in terms of being a “comeback,” and of course, the meta angle of playing an actor who formerly starred as a superhero is just begging for attention. On one hand it's a fortunate hook to help sell the movie, but on the other, it's been a pretty simplistic reduction, not necessarily one that Keaton has had a big problem with, but one that could certainly be discussed with a little more nuance.

You might have to go back to the late '90s for examples of the actor's work that really landed culturally, but in the time since, while he's certainly taken a few breathers, he's worked very consistently. He's done TV spots on popular shows. He's starred in acclaimed TV movies like “Live from Baghdad” and the TNT miniseries “The Company.” He's struck up a relationship with Pixar and he's even cranked out a directorial debut.

So in wrapping up a series of chats with the actor today, we focus a bit on that, what he's done over the last decade or so and what's been important to him during that stretch, the build to “Birdman” and the work that went into a powerhouse performance that now finds him nominated for his first Oscar.

Read through the back and forth below.

“Birdman” was nominated for nine Academy Awards including Best Actor. The film hits DVD/Blu-ray Feb. 17.


HitFix: Congratulations on the Golden Globe win. I loved your speech. Obviously I don't know you but just observationally, it seemed to capture who you are in this business. It wasn't a broad, lofty statement or anything. It was personal. I thought that was nice.

Michael Keaton: Oh, thanks.

A certain amount of people every year get to go on this weird awards circuit roller coaster. What's been the most unexpected thing about it for you?