It's Showtime: See Michael Keaton's Haunting Transformation for Beetlejuice Beetlejuice Role

Fans got their first look at Michael Keaton, Catherine O'Hara and Winona Ryder as they reprise their roles in the upcoming Beetlejuice Beetlejuice.

By Sabba Rahbar Mar 21, 2024 1:22 AMTags
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Beetlejuice. Beetlejuice. Beetlejuice. And here he is.

Warner Brothers finally revealed its first look at Michael Keaton in all his "bio-exorcist" glory for the upcoming film Beetlejuice Beetlejuice, the sequel to the 1988 classic.

In the photos shared March 20, the 72-year-old looked even more haunting than he did in the original while wearing his iconic black-and-white striped suit and mugging for the camera.

And snaps of the titular character weren't the only glimpse of the movie that fans received. After all, a shot of Keaton's original costars Catherine O'Hara and Winona Ryder—alongside newcomers Justin Theroux and Jenna Ortega—was also shared. In that photo, the quartet wear all black at a cemetery as they looked off into the distance.

The images provide a bit of insight into the plot of Beetlejuice Beetlejuice, as the film's director Tim Burton said the sequel would pick up with a death in the family decades after the original left off.

Every Time Jenna Ortega Channeled Wednesday Off-the-Screen

"That's all I will say," Burton told Entertainment Weekly in an interview published March 20. "There's something that happens that sets things in motion."

Parisa Taghizadeh/Warner Bros. Entertainment

As for getting Keaton to inhabit Beetlejuice's manic personality once again? Burton says they didn't have any trouble making that happen.

"He just got back into it" Burton said. "It was kind of scary for somebody who was maybe not that overly interested in doing it. It was such a beautiful thing for me to see all the cast, but he, sort of like demon possession, just went right back into it."

And while Burton noted that it took 36 years for the duo to find an "emotional hook" for a sequel, it was much easier for the 65-year-old to find the right actress to play Ryder's daughter, who will be played by Ortega, the star of his Netflix show Wednesday.

Parisa Taghizadeh/Warner Bros. Entertainment

Of course, Jenna was delighted to be part of the experience, especially when it came to working with her on-screen mom.

"Winona is just the loveliest, sweetest—just one of my favorite people I think I've ever met," Jenna recently told E! News. "I love her a lot and I felt really grateful to get to know her and work with her—she is just an angel on this planet."

Beetlejuice Beetlejuice is slated for release on Sep. 6, with Monica Bellucci (Tim Burton's current partner) and Willem Dafoe also joining the cast.

Keep reading for more secrets about the original 1988 film.

1. The original script for Beetlejuice was far more sinister than the dark comedy it ultimately became, with the lead role being "much more scabrous," according to screenwriter Laurence Senelick, who came up with the initial story with horror novelist Michael McDowell. Beetlejuice was slated to be a homicidal demon, the Maitlands died a horrific death and the Deetzes had two daughters, not one, in the first draft.

"Everybody wanted to own it," Senelick told The Ringer of trying to sell the project to a studio. "Nobody wanted to make it."

2. Though Warner Bros. eventually bought the movie, they wanted to change its title to House Ghosts. The name Scared Sheetless was also considered after then-29-year-old director Tim Burton jokingly offered it as an alternative. 

3. The character's true name is Betelgeuse, which is based on a star that is in the same constellation as Orion.

4. Burton's first choice for the titular character was Sammy Davis Jr. before producer David Geffen suggested Michael Keaton for the role.

5. But when Keaton first approached about the project, he turned it down, despite liking Burton. "I didn't understand what he was talking about," Keaton told Charlie Rose in 2014. "I said, 'I wish I could do it, you seem like a really nice guy and I know you're creative, but I don't get it.'"

6. Despite his reservations, Keaton met with the director two more times, his interest piqued by Burton saying the character "exists in all times and spaces." So, the future Batman star met with the wardrobe department and brought his vision of the bio-exorcist to life, including clothing from all different time periods,  the mold, the teeth, the walk and hair "that looked like I stuck my hand in an electrical outlet."

When he showed up on set in the final look, Keaton admitted, "I thought, 'This is going to be way off the mark,'" but, to his surprise, Burton "got it immediately." 

7. Sarah Jessica Parker, Brooke Shields, Lori Loughlin, Diane Lane, Justine Bateman, Molly Ringwald, Juliette Lewis and Jennifer Connelly were all considered for the role of goth teen Lydia.

7. The decision ultimately came down to Winona Ryder and Alyssa Milano.

"It was between the two of us, and she actually got the part," Milano revealed to HuffPost Live in 2016. "You always wonder what would have happened differently in my life had that worked out, not that I would want it to be any different, but it's just an interesting thought game."

Burton ultimately chose Ryder after seeing her performance in Lucas.

9. Angelica Huston was initially cast as Delia Deetz, but had to drop out of the movie due to an illness. The Addams Family star was replaced by Catherine O'Hara, who met and eventually married production designer Bo Welch while working on Beetlejuice.

10. Though he ultimately signed on to play Adam Deetz, Alec Baldwin later admitted to GQ he had concerns about the impact the project would have on his career.

"When we did Beetlejuice, I had no idea what it was about," Baldwin said. "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."

11. Burton encouraged his actors to improvise while filming, a directive Keaton particularly enjoyed.

"You show up on the set and just go f--kin' nuts," the Oscar winner told Rolling Stone. "It was rave acting. You rage for 12 or 14 hours; then you go home tired and beat and exhausted. It was pretty damned cathartic."

12. While the dinner party sequence set to "Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)" went on to become one of the film's most famous scenes, the initial plan was to use a R&B song. But actor Jeffrey Jones said all of the picks, including "When A Man Loves a Woman," were too expensive. "Every time somebody heard the words 'David Geffen,'" producer Marjorie Lewis told The Ringer, "they raised the price."

13. Ultimately, it was O'Hara and her co-star Jeffrey Jones who suggested calypso music, with Harry Belafonte's 1956 song being selected. "I think it was like $300 to do it?" Jones explained to Pitchfork. 

Though Belafonte initially thought the film sounded unusual, he agreed to give the producers the song after he learned they would be using his original version rather than the many covers that had been released by other artists, explaining, "I never had a request like that before." 

14. In the original ending, a major character died, producer Larry Wilson revealed to Yahoo. 

"Our first ending was Lydia—she died in a fire and was able to join Barbara and Adam in the afterlife," Wilson said. "A couple of people said to us, 'Do you really think that's a good idea? Is that really the message you want to be sending to the teenagers of the world? Die in a fire?' So, yeah, it probably was darker."

15. While he's the title character, Keaton appears in less than 18 minutes of the movie. 

16. When launched in 1998, the first DVD the service shipped to customers was Beetlejuice.

17. Made for just $13 million, Beetlejuice went on to gross $75 million in the U.S. and spawned an animated series and a stage show at Universal Studio theme park. It also won the Academy Award for Best Makeup in 1989. 

18. Burton initially conceived of a sequel titled Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian, hiring Jonathan Gems to write a script that would see the Deetz family opening a tropical resort. When they discover that the property was built on the burial ground of an ancient Hawaiian Kahuna, they once again find themselves in need of Beetlejuice's services. While Keaton and Ryder signed on, the project never came to a fruition.

19. After years of rumors, a sequel was officially announced in February 2022, with Plan B Entertainment producing alongside Warner Bros., and Keaton and Ryder reprising their roles. 

20. In March 2023, it was reported that Burton would be re-teaming with Jenna Ortega as the Wednesday star was being considered for a role in the sequel. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ortega will be playing Lydia's daughter.

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