HOLLYWOOD, California –
Birdman star Michael Keaton is only now realizing that his character, for which he was nominated for an Oscar, was in part based on his own life. Keaton plays Riggan Thomson, an actor best-known for his once iconic role as the lead man in the Birdman franchise. Since then, however, Thomson’s career has faulted, and he is portrayed in the 2014 film as attempting to recapture his former fame by acting, directing, and producing a major theater production.
The acclaimed box-office hit loosely mirrors Keaton’s own career, having peaked in the 80’s and 90’s when he played the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman, in Batman and Batman Returns. His later roles were in films of various levels of success which never came close to reaching the stardom he gained from playing of the reclusive superhero.
“I realized that Birdman sounds sorta like Batman,” Keaton said. “But I didn’t put two and two together. I thought it was just a coincidence – that [director] Alejandro [González Iñárritu] had contacted me because he was a fan of my work and adaptability. I should have known, I guess, that roles in Cars and Robocop weren’t enough to bring my career back to the heights it once reached.”
Iñárritu, for his part, told reporters that he hadn’t considered the need to tell Keaton about the connection, and had assumed he had caught on when he agreed to take the meta acting part.
“Why else would I have called Michael Keaton?” he said, somewhat bemused. “It’s not like he’s been at the top of everyone’s minds for the past 20 odd years. When he expressed doubt over whether he could realistically play the role of a former iconic superhero, I assumed he was messing around. I said to him, ‘I see. This part doesn’t reflect your own life in any way at all.’ We laughed, but obviously he only pretended to get the joke.”
Keaton is reportedly preparing to go through the same existential crisis that character Riggan Thomson faces throughout the entire film.