Twenty-five years after he first donned the cape as Batman, Michael Keaton is back and exploring his superhero past.
Keaton got his start on “Mister Rogers,” though, most of his work was surprisingly behind the scenes. It really wouldn’t be until 1982 that the actor would break out in Ron Howard‘s “Night Shift,” and a few years later, his career went into overdrive. After collaborating with Tim Burton on “Beetlejuice” (1988), the director cast him as the legendary Bruce Wayne in “Batman” (1989). This fall, he revisits his superhero past in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “Birdman,” and the acclaim is already rolling in.
From his connection to “LOST” to his history with Larry David, here are 29 things you probably don’t know about Michael Keaton.
1. Michael Keaton was born September 5, 1951 in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania to Leona Loftus and George A. Douglas.
2. His father worked as a civil engineer and surveyor, while his mother was a homemaker.
3. Keaton was the youngest of seven children.
4. He was also raised Catholic, though he acknowledges he’s not very religious today.
5. Keaton was born Michael John Douglas and took the stage name Keaton to avoid confusion with “Wall Street” actor Michael Douglas. His birth name is still his legal name, though. Clearly, being named Michael Douglas is a cheat code for Hollywood success.
6. There was also already a daytime host and broadcaster named Mike Douglas. At one point, Keaton was actually on his show!
7. There are varying reports as to whether he took the surname Keaton because of Diane Keaton, but he’s denied that rumor.
8. He was even close to taking the name Michael Jackson due to his brothers calling him Jackson as a nickname for John. Needless to say, that didn’t work out.
9. Before he became Michael Keaton, however, he studied speech for two years at Kent State.
10. He left school early to try his hand at stand-up comedy, but that didn’t take immediately and he had to take a steady job.
11. One of the first people he met doing stand-up was Larry David.
12. In 1975, he worked on “Mister Rogers” as a crew member making $2.25 an hour.
13. It was on Fred Rogers’s show that he made an early onscreen appearance as one of the “Flying Zucchini Brothers.”
14. In 2004, he even hosted the PBS special “Mr. Rogers: America’s Favorite Neighbor,” which honored the late Rogers.
15. After moving to Los Angeles, Keaton landed a starring role alongside James Belushi in “Working Stiffs” (1979). Unfortunately, the show was short-lived, lasting only eight episodes.
16. The show, however, influenced his casting in Ron Howard’s “Night Shift” (1982) opposite Henry Winkler.
17. Later in the decade, after starring in Tim Burton’s “Beetlejuice” (1988), Burton cast Keaton as Bruce Wayne in “Batman” (1989).
18. Warner Bros. received thousands of letters in protest of the actor’s casting as the superhero. But Keaton earned acclaim from critics and audiences, and “Batman” proved successful at the box office, prompting a sequel.
19. After “Batman Returns” (1992), Burton was dropped as the director of a third live-action Batman film and, subsequently, Keaton left the project, too. The actor didn’t like the lighthearted tone of the screenplay and even turned down Warner Bros. $15 million counter-offer.
20. Besides playing Bruce Wayne in two films, Keaton also twice portrayed the Elmore Leonard character Agent Ray Nicolette. He played Nicolette in Tarantino’s “Jackie Brown” (1997) and Soderbergh’s “Out of Sight” (1998).
21. In 2002, the actor earned his first Golden Globe nomination for his starring role in “Live From Baghdad,” a TV movie about journalists reporting during the Gulf War.
22. A couple years later, Keaton was slated to play Jack Shepard in “LOST.” Really. The show’s creator, J.J. Abrams, planned to kill off the actor in the pilot episode for a big WTF moment, but the network eventually didn’t think it was beneficial to the show’s long-term success. With ABC wishing for Jack Shepard to stick around for more episodes, Keaton bowed out of the series.
23. As for his personal life, Keaton was married to actress Caroline McWilliams from 1982 until 1990. The couple have one son together, Sean Maxwell Douglas, born in 1983.
24. Directly following his marriage, Keaton was in a relationship with a pre-“Friends” Courteney Cox until 1995.
25. In his free time, the actor is an avid sportsman and sports fan. He’s a diehard Pittsburgh Pirates and Pittsburgh Steelers fan.
26. He also enjoys fly fishing and fishes on his 1,000 acre ranch in Montana.
27. He also has a ranch in Santa Barbara, California and a home in Pacific Palisades.
28. He can next be seen playing the title role in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “Birdman,” playing a former superhero actor who puts on a play in an attempt at respectability. The part seems appropriate. The filmmaker recently said he wanted Keaton because he could navigate drama and comedy and add “a meta-dialogue to the film.”