Alec Baldwin Thought Beetlejuice Would Kill His Career

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In the spring of 1988, a peculiar little horror comedy titled Beetlejuice floated its way into theaters, where it made a hefty sum of money and won over critics, eventually finding itself playing on nearly every cable TV channel at least once a week throughout the month of October. While we all think of the Tim Burton-directed movie as a Halloween classic today, star Alec Baldwin had no way of knowing that during production.

In a new interview with GQ, Baldwin broke down some of his most iconic roles, including his part as the late Adam Maitland, who clashes with Michael Keaton’s ghostly Betelgeuse. The actor detailed that the movie’s production left him baffled, and Tim Burton’s peculiarities failed to quell his fears.

“I had no idea what it was about. I thought my, all of our, careers are going to end with the release of this film… Maybe we’re all going to be dead. [Tim Burton] would sit at a desk and draw the characters… and he would never look up at me. Tim was looking down at a piece of paper and maybe this is the only direction Tim gave me the whole entire movie. He would look up and go, ‘No. Don’t do that.’ And then go back to the paper and draw. But, when you’re around Tim, he was just such a crazy professor. That’s one of the earliest movies I made, and you see everything that’s brought to bear in making movies in a movie like that.”

It’s no secret now that Burton is a bit of an odd duck, but those working on the film had no idea what to expect at the time. Baldwin chalks up his ability to even complete the film to Michael Keaton, who he said couldn’t help but inject life into the production.

“Michael came and knew the secret. Because I would act and then I would have some doubts. I was much more neurotic about what I would do, and I was very young starting out in films. And Keaton just came out and he was like the comedy Annie Oakley. He was so self-assured. He just tore it up… I thought I was going to choke, I was laughing so hard off camera.”

Michael Keaton was a big name in comedy by 1988, but the actor was deservedly shot onto the A-list thanks to his performance in Beetlejuice (if you’re counting at home, that makes three). The next year, he would go on to star as the titular character in Batman, which many, many fans decried before its release. For a while, it sounded like the two would pair up once more as well for a Beetlejuice sequel, though it seems those rumors have finally been put to rest.

Even if production was a mess, Baldwin couldn’t have been more wrong about Beetlejuice. Equal parts dark and campy, the film’s successful mix of tones shines even outside of the Halloween season. After all, there’s a reason we’re still talking about it today.

Source: GQ

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