“I think you become a better actor if you have a world awareness and if you have experiences and you hear the way people speak.” – Michael Keaton
It sure is nice to see Michael Keaton again. The Academy Award-winning actor was a powerhouse in the 1980s and begin working with then up-and-coming directors like Quentin Tarantino, Kenneth Branagh, and Stephen Soderbergh in the 1990s and then slipped into far less prominent work for more than a dozen years. However, since his Oscar-nominated turn in Birdman, Keaton has returned with vengeance, starring in critical favorites (Spotlight, The Founder), mainstream hits (Spider-Man: Homecoming, Dumbo), a prestige television series (Dopesick), and even a return to the biggest role of his career by reprising his role as Batman/Bruce Wayne in the upcoming superhero movie The Flash. In an extensive interview with The New York Times Magazine, Keaton explains why he stepped back from acting and what he learned about becoming a better performer.
Starting in the late 1990s and through release of Birdman in 2014, Keaton appeared very little on screen, and when he did it was either in voiceover work (Cars, Toy Story 3) or in supporting roles (most notably 2010’s The Other Guys). Keaton admits that at the time he was bored with his acting and lost confidence in his abilities, explaining, “So you hear yourself speaking, you’re in a scene, and it doesn’t necessarily not ring true, it’s just kind of a sound you’re doing that’s too familiar. I can’t explain it. I think there was a little overall boredom but not with the business — bored with me. Then the next level of that is are you having any fun or are you even really any good right now? So you’d stop, step back and reassess. Do some other things. Frankly the reason — a reason — that a person can be more effective as an actor — boy I hate acting talk.”
And what does Keaton think makes an actor more effective? Getting outside the movie business bubble. He continues, “I think you become a better actor if you have a world awareness and if you have experiences and you hear the way people speak.”