Michael Keaton Says He Was Nervous Working With Jack Nicholson On Batman

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Michael Keaton may have been playing the title character, who also happened to be one of the most famous figures in popular culture, but there’s no mistaking who was initially positioned as the real star of Tim Burton’s Batman. After all, fans were so against the idea of an actor best known for his work in the comedy genre portraying the Dark Knight that they sent hundreds of thousands of letters to Warner Bros.’ headquarters in the 1980s equivalent of cancel culture.

Jack Nicholson, on the other hand, was one of the most famous actors on the planet. The big screen legend took top billing in all of the promotional and marketing materials, and also walked away with the most lucrative deal after agreeing to take a percentage of the profits in return for lowering his usual salary. That ended up being a savvy move in the end, when he walked away with a reported $60 million.

In a recent interview, Keaton admitted that he was nervous sharing the screen with such a titan of the industry, but that Nicholson made everyone on set feel relaxed despite his reputation as one of the most intense actors in the business.

“The only thing that happened when I did the first Batman was, I was very nervous and self-conscious about being with Jack, because he’s so strong on film, you know, and it ended up just being great. We became pals and everything. I don’t know that I’ve ever thought of it like that. That’s a great question. I would say yeah, he probably was pretty aware of his power. He had so much power on screen, you know, has. It was just cool. He made everybody feel really, really relaxed.”

You can understand why Keaton might be feeling a little anxious. When cameras started rolling on Batman, he was best known for Mr. Mom and Beetlejuice, while his illustrious opposite number had two Academy Award wins from nine nominations, four Golden Globes, a Grammy and a string of all-time classics under his belt including Easy Rider, Chinatown, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Shining and more. All told, you’d have to say that Keaton acquitted himself pretty well in the face of such a formidable co-star.

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