20 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Michael Keaton

Michael Keaton has proved himself to be one of the most talented character actors in Hollywood. His roles as characters like Beetlejuice and Batman have shown just how far he can take his acting, and how he can turn from one personality to another in a second.

Few actors can get us to buy into their roles so easily as Michael Keaton, and he continues to impress today in films like Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Let’s take a look at this Hollywood great with some facts about Michael Keaton you may not have known…

20. His real name is Michael Douglas

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Keaton was actually born Michael Douglas, but when it came to joining the actors’ union he realised that name was already taken.

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Not only was the name Michael Douglas taken, but Mike Keaton too, in the form of the famous broadcaster.

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There has been a misconception that Keaton chose his stage surname after the actress Diane Keaton.

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However, the name came about after he was looking through the Ks for surnames. He found Keaton to be relatively inoffensive.

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In spite of the fact that the World knows him only as Michael Keaton, he has never legally changed his name and so is officially still Michael Douglas.

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19. He’s the youngest of seven siblings

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Keaton is the youngest of seven siblings, having three elder brothers and three elder sisters.

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As you can imagine, this led to an incredibly hectic household.

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Keaton’s mother was originally from Ireland, and was a devout Catholic.

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This might go someway to explain the number of children she had.

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However, Keaton’s father was a protestant, so the children had the choice over which religion to follow.

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18. He got his first showbiz job as a stagehand on Mister Rogers’ Neighbourhood

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Keaton knew he wanted to get into the business early, and first started pursuing his career in 1968.

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This was as a stagehand on Mister Rogers’ Neighbourhood, where he played one of the Flying Zookeeni Brothers.

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In addition, he would also help to produce the programme.

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Keaton also worked at the Pittsburgh Theatre, where he acted in various shows and plays.

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During this time, he performed stand up comedy to subsidise his income.

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17. He was offered Jeff Goldblum’s role in The Fly

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Keaton was offered the lead role in David Cronenberg’s The Fly, but ultimately turned it down.

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This paved the way for the role to go to Jeff Goldblum instead.

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This wasn’t the first time he would be pitted up against Goldblum, either.

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In 1989, Keaton was considered for a role in Tango and Cash.

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However, Kurt Russell beat him to the part, starring alongside high profile actors such as Sylvester Stallone.

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16. He turned down two roles in Ghostbusters

7Ghostbusters 20 Facts You Probably Didn't Know About Michael Keaton

Keaton was also offered the choice of starring in Ghostbusters as either Peter Venkman or Egon Spengler.

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However, once again he ended up turning down both of the roles.

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Keaton was also offered the lead part in the iconic movie Groundhog Day.

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He has since expressed regret over this decision, claiming that he simply ‘didn’t get it’.

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Of course, the part ultimately went to Bill Murray, whose performance was surely unbeatable.

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15. He goes fishing with The Fonze

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Keaton is a keen fly-fishing enthusiast and claims this is one of his favourite past-times.

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This is a hobby that he likes to share with his friend and Night Shift co-star Henry Winkler, better known to millions as Happy Days’ The Fonze.

Despite pushing 70, it seems Keaton isn’t ready to slow down quite yet.

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He also enjoys several sports, including snowboarding, golf and mountain biking.

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He’s also a horse enthusiast, and loves to spend time riding horses on his California and Montana ranches.

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14. He ad-libbed 90% of Beetlejuice

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Keaton has many films that he’s a fan of, including Mr Mom, Much Ado About Nothing and The Paper.

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Of course, his favourite of his own work is the legendary movie that is Beetlejuice.

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Keaton claimed that the director of the film described Beetlejuice as ‘having lived in every time period but no time period.’

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He took this as a challenge, keen to express this through the character’s unique look.

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Keaton excelled in the role, and reportedly ad-libbed 90% of his lines.

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13. He’s worked multiple times with Tim Burton and Ron Howard

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Keaton has made three films with director Ron Howard, consisting of Night Shift, Gung Ho and The Paper.

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He also worked on four films with Tim Burton, including Batman and of course Beetlejuice.

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Most recently, the pair were both involved with the new live-action remake of Dumbo.

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Keaton plays the role of V. A. Vandevere, an entrepreneur and amusement park owner who buys Medici’s circus to exploit Dumbo for his amusement park, Dreamland.

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Dumbo was released earlier this year, and received a mixed reception from critics and audiences.

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12. Keaton was considered for the role of Captain Jack Sparrow

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Keaton was seriously considered for the lead role in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.

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This would have seen a very different interpretation of Jack Sparrow – can you imagine Keaton in the role?

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This would not be the last time Depp won a part over Keaton.

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In 2005, Keaton was also considered for the role of Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

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However, in the end it was decided that the part would be more suited to Depp.

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11. He was cast in Batman for his inherent darkness

12Batman 20 Facts You Probably Didn't Know About Michael Keaton

Tim Burton wanted Keaton to star as Batman in his 1989 version of the comic character as he felt that Keaton was the only actor who could portray the darkly possessive personality that the role required.

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That’s quite the compliment, especially coming from Burton himself!

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At the time, there was uproar from Batman fans who felt that Keaton was not right for the part.

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Luckily, the producers decided to give Keaton a chance and he later went on to star in the sequel Batman Returns, too.

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As of 2017 he is the only living Bruce Wayne/Batman actor to not have been directed by Terrence Malick.

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10. He’s worked with all of Tom Cruise’s ex-wives

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Tom Cruise is clearly quite the ladies man, as proven by the three marriages he’s racked up.

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Keaton worked with Tom Cruise’s first wife, Mimi Rogers, back in 1986.

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This was in the movie Gung Ho, in which the pair play a boyfriend-girlfriend couple.

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Whilst working on the movie My Life in 1993, Keaton had the chance to work with Nichole Kidman in the role of her character’s husband.

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Most recently, he played Katie Holmes’ father in the 2004 film First Daughter.

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9. He owns several ranches

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Being a famous movie star, we can only assume that Keaton is pretty rich, right? Right. Not only does he own an impressive mansion in Pacific Palisades, but he owns two ranches.

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He bought his first ranch in Montana in 1980, and it’s here that he most frequently resides.

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The ranch is spread over a whopping 1000 acres, and he uses the land to to grow hay and raise cattle.

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It features a four bedroom cedar-and-stone ranch house complete with a pool and manicured lawns.

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His second ranch is located in Santa Barbara, within a stones throw of his mansion.

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8. He’s dated some seriously high-profile celebs

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Of course, being a major movie star, it’s only natural that Keaton has dated some fellow A-listers.

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One of these is Friends star Courteney Cox, whom he dated from 1989 until 1995.

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He was also married to Caroline McWilliams from 1982 until 1990.

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Hmm… something doesn’t quite add up there…

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The pair had a son together, Sean, who was born in 1983.

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7. He was originally cast in Lost as Jack

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Lost has long since vanished from our TV screens, but it originally featured a very different cast.

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Keaton was actually set to to play the part of Dr Jack Shepherd, however plans soon fell through.

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Keaton had only agreed to play the part if his character was killed off in the pilot.

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Network executives then changed their minds and decided Shepherd should stay on the show.

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They argued that it would make the show more popular, and therefore more profitable. After Keaton left, he was replaced by Matthew Fox.

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6. He’s the shortest actor to ever play Batman

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At 5’9″, Keaton isn’t exactly vertically challenged. Not by a long shot.

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However, he is actually the shortest actor to portray the superhero.

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Fans were worried Keaton would make the role too ‘campy’.

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To dispel any concerns, Warner Bros were forced to release an advance trailer in order to reassure fans that Keaton was up to the job.

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It seems Keaton wasn’t a huge fan of the films, and he refused to appear in the third Batman movie, despite being offered $15 million.

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5. He was fired from both The Purple Rose of Cairo and Mystic River

5 20 Facts You Probably Didn't Know About Michael Keaton

As an actor, it seems Keaton is pretty headstrong in his ideas.

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This has led to him butting heads over creative differences on several of the projects he’s worked on.

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Keaton was actually cast in Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo.

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However, after filming some scenes, Allen decided it wasn’t working out and Keaton was replaced by Jeff Daniels.

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Similarly, whilst filming Mystic River, Keaton and Clint Eastwood clashed so much that Keaton ultimately decided to leave the production.

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4. He took a long break from fame

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It’s unusual for Hollywood actors to step out of the limelight, but Keaton decided to take a break from entertainment. He peaked at the height of his career, with roles in iconic films such as Beetlejuice, Mr Mom and Batman.

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He then made some questionable career choices and was involved with some spectacular flops.

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Keaton recently admitted that he had been a ‘person living life’ and that he had lost in interest in the business.

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This was until he saw the script for Birdman, which reignited his passion for acting.

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He’s since made an impressive comeback, excelling in his role in Birdman and returning to the big screen in Spider Man: Homecoming.

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3. He doesn’t like to get drunk

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Like many people in the spotlight, Keaton prefers to remain in control at all times.

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This includes not drinking to excess, especially when in public.

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‘It’s not that I don’t have a drink now and again,’ explained Keaton. ‘But I’ve had my day’.

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However, he did reminisce over his drinking days, saying ‘it was always fun’.

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Apparently, when asked what he wanted to be written on his tomb stone, he replied: ‘he was always a good time’.

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2. He changed how superheroes were portrayed in Hollywood

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Before Keaton came along, most superheroes were big and burly, with a super macho look.

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Keaton himself coined the reluctant, self-hating alter-ego that is still emulated by super heroes 30 years later.

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Keaton was clearly a controversial choice and, as mentioned earlier, the studio was bombarded by furious letters stating that he was too ‘weird and weedy’ for the part.

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However, this is exactly why Burton thought he was perfect for the role.

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‘He’s got that wild energy in his eyes,’ Burton explained. ‘He does this because he needs to because he’s not this gigantic strapping macho man.’

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1. His son is a Grammy Award-nominated songwriter

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Keaton’s son, Sean Douglas, is often referred to as ‘Michael Keaton’s hot son’.

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He has worked with some of the biggest names in music, including Madonna and Demi Lovato.

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The two even accompany one another to various award ceremonies.

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Sean attended the Golden Globes with his father when he won for his role in Birdman, where Keaton tearfully thanked him for his support, calling him his ‘best friend’.

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Sean also gave a speech when Keaton was added to the Wall of Fame, saying ‘I’m so proud to be your son’.

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