The irreverent sprite protagonist of the film Beetlejuice owes its scruffy and picturesque look to the actor who played it, namely Michael Keaton. After discussing the film with director Tim Burton, Keaton decided to empathize with the role by creating his outfit and character appearance, without fully understanding what kind of film it was.
An attempt, that of Keaton, which proved to be successful and created a real icon, which then returned in an animated series and in a musical.
It was Michael Keaton who came up with the Beetlejuice look
Before playing the hateful poltergeist, Keaton was known in the 1980s for his comedic characters. After participating in Night Shift Ron Howard was noticed by Tim Burton who called him to play a character as crazy as he was dark, which allowed Keaton to reach a greater level of acclaim. A factor that would later increase with the lead role in the 1989 Batman film, also directed by Burton. Obviously in the actor’s career there was no lack of more serious and better known roles in films such as Birdman or The Spotlight Case. Speaking of comic book characters, he became Vulture in the Marvel movie Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Returning to Bettlejuice, it is in an interview conducted by Charlie Rose in 2014 and recently shared by THR that Keaton explained that he met Tim Burton three times before agreeing to act in the film, with the director who tried in every way to persuade the actor to accept the role. Keaton wasn’t sure he understood the genre of film, saying, “I had no idea what he was talking about, but I liked it“.
So Keaton asked the costume department to put together a wardrobe of clothes from different periods and styles, and then add the idea of make-up and “electrified” hair. He had no idea if this would work or not and Tim Burton saw nothing until Keaton appeared on set. It was a leap in the dark for both of us but after 30 years we can say that the character of Bettlejuice he has become an icon of cinema and is best remembered for his very particular appearance.
Despite fans clamoring for a sequel to Bettlejuice, the project for a new film has been shelved in 2019 but Keaton will return to the cinema in the historical role of Batman / Bruce Wayne in the film The Flash, due out next year.