Whenever Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice is mentioned in a circle of cinephiles, words like “unique,” “original” and even “insane” are tossed around in a game of dodge the adjective. Burton’s Pee Wee’s Big Adventure was a hit in 1985, and thus he began getting offers and scripts at an alarming rate, none of which piqued his interest — until he received Beetlejuice. The outrageously fresh script called for a ghoulish pimp who is summoned by dead dependents like a sort of evil afterlife genie. Beetlejuice‘s titular role would go to Michael Keaton — who should probably be holding a best actor Oscar right now, but isn’t — and he added the exclamation point on an already entertaining character.
While much of the film’s success — it more than quadrupled its budget at the box office — should be owed to Keaton’s performance and Burton’s direction, a lot of the film’s charm comes from the production design, art direction and misc-en-scene headed by Bo Welch, Tom Duffield and Tom Ackerman, respectively.
We caught up with art director Tom Duffield, cinematographer Tom Ackerman and production designer Bo Welch to reminisce about the making of a dark comedy classic and learn some interesting behind-the-scenes facts about Beetlejuice.