If you have only gotten to know Michael Keaton from his last few films where he played pretty serious characters you may be surprised to experience his comedic side. However, if you have followed his career from the 80’s like I have you know how he is right at home making you laugh out loud, which is exactly what I did sitting down with this Hollywood legend.
Q: I am always interested to see what film roles you take on, particularly these days due to the political climate we are in. For those that follow you on social media, we know that you are a very politically engaged guy. Was this a film that resonated with you on that level at all?
It was a concern actually because I think the result is good. I was a little nervous about how it leaned, frankly. And I’m not one thing or another. I don’t really think most people are one thing or another. And in terms of the terrorism issue, I would call myself somewhat of a hardliner, to say the least. But maybe not so much in other areas, so I was okay with what the goal was in the books and in the movie. That said, and I’ve said this a bunch, Dylan (O’Brien, played Mitch) and I, one of our main concerns when we first read this script, and we were talking about maybe making this movie, was that it wasn’t simplistic black and white. You didn’t go down the traditional, I don’t want to say stupid path of these kind of people from these part of the world, or these kind of people who believe these only things, and those things aren’t complicated.
And so to Michael (Cuesta, director) and Stephen’s (Schiff, writer) credit, and whomever else was involved, they not only took our notes. I think Michael was a step ahead of us, and what he thought he did was, this always sounds superior when you say this, but he created a nuance. His idea just to create people, like the mercenary idea, is just a great idea. People don’t really have a philosophical, religious stake in things. Honestly, it just makes it more interesting for one thing. And so I thought they really did a good job of making it a little more complicated, more interesting and not as cliché. So it was more palatable to me once they accomplished that.
Q: Stan Hurley (Michael’s character) is one tough guy. Was there any line you felt you couldn’t cross, that would be too much even for an extreme character like Stan?
There were a couple things. There may have been one moment where, I can’t, no [laughs]. No, no there might have been something. Like honestly, all kidding aside, but the trunk scene. I am not a believer in if you are playing somebody who’s, let’s for simplicity sake call it, if you are playing the bad guy, like Ray Kroc (from The Founder) He is not the bad guy. But I mean what Ray Kroc did at the end in The Founder. In this movie, whether you saw it or not. You should have because it’s awesome. But anyway, but the agreement that John and I made was, and I said I am only interested in one thing. We don’t pull back. I am not a believer in if you are a certain kind of person. I’m just not a fan of going, “Well, he’s not justifying that he’s actually kind of lovable.” I just don’t buy that. I think it’s not the most courageous thing as an actor. So he is what he is. But also worked within the framework of, “What’s the story? What’s the painting? What’s the picture?
What are you trying to accomplish?” And by the way, there’s a lot about Stan Hurley I like a lot, and I probably agree with. So when you say, like the trunk scene for instance, you say, “Right then and there. That’s what this person that I am playing, it ain’t me, is doing.” And that’s what you’ll do. So you commit totally to that. I don’t believe in saying, I just don’t believe in the other. So I would say that we discussed that torture scene quite a bit. Michael worked on that over and over again. Because he didn’t want to come up with anything that we’ve seen before. And I thought in terms of that, it was I think mission accomplished.
Q: What did you learn from Dylan? You guys are from a kind of comedy background, but the generations are way different.
Well you know, I don’t believe in, you only learn from older people. If somebody’s got something good to say or I watch somebody do something, I don’t care if they’re ten years old. You just pay attention. There’s a lot to be learned, I think a lot of people are 90 because they’ve been around. He has a really good work ethic. Maybe I was reminded that that’s what you should do. Lot of times you have to mature into that. And he just always ask, all these guys, Taylor (Kitsch, played Ghost) as well, everybody, they are all about work. Since he and I have the most scenes together, I got to say we laughed a lot. He’s a pretty funny dude…pretty funny, but anyway, no [laughs]. No, but we had a lot of laughs. So I don’t know if that really answers your question, but.
Q: Were you happy to not be the guy in his underwear this time? Because that’s a change of pace.
I was happy not to be a guy in his underwear. Being in my underwear, I am good with being in my underwear. I am actually good being out of my underwear, if you know what I mean [laughs]
American Assassin opens theaters nationwide on September 15th.
For info visit their official website at http://www.cbsfilms.com/american-assassin/
Interview by Izumi Hasegawa – @HNW_Izumi
Edited by: Jody Taylor – @RealJodyTaylor
Follow Us: What’s Up Hollywood at @WhatsUpHWood