With Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” descending upon Western Pennsylvania theaters, area cinephiles will finally get a chance to see what the fuss is all about. Yes, the dramedy has been drawing a ton of Oscar buzz.
At the center of the hype is one Pittsburgh native named Michael Keaton, who plays the lead role of Riggan, a washed-up actor who peaked in the part of a popular superhero. Now, the actor is looking to make his way back to the top after a hard fall.
Much has been written about “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” drawing a parallel to Keaton’s own career. Remember, he became a household name in the late ’80s when he donned the cape and mask of Batman. He walked away from the franchise after a 1992 sequel and never looked back.
Keaton had no regrets, and he’s gone on to enjoy a great career as an actor. It looks like things could heat up again, but before we forget, here are some of the iconic performances Keaton has given us:
10. “The Merry Gentleman” (2009) Never heard of it? Few people checked out Keaton’s debut as a filmmaker, and they missed out on a good one. Here, he directs and stars as a hit man who begins an unlikely relationship with a woman fleeing an abusive relationship.
9. “Johnny Dangerously” (1984) Keaton plays the role of Johnny Kelly — an honest guy who takes up crime to cover his mother’s medical bills and help his brother pay for school — in this flick from Amy Heckerling. Set in the 1930s, it’s part comedy and part gangster film.
8. “The Other Guys” (2010) Keaton wasn’t the headliner in this cop comedy starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, but he stole enough scenes as a police captain — with plenty of inspiration from R&B group TLC — to prove he’s still got the chops to own a comedic role.
7. “Game 6″ (2005) Another under-the-radar film, Keaton delivers one of his finest performances as a playwright named Nicky who skips the opening of his newest project to take in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series between the Red Sox and Mets.
6. “Jackie Brown” (1997) Keaton had a strong supporting role in Quentin Tarantino’s explosive adaptation of an Elmore Leonard novel. Wound tight, he plays a federal agent who uses a stewardess to help with the arrest of a notorious gunrunner.
5. “Mr. Mom” (1983) This comedy written by John Hughes was a movie that found Keaton breaking out as a mainstream actor. The Pittsburgher played the role of Jack, an unemployed guy forced to stay home and watch his kids while his wife went off to work.
4. “Clean and Sober” (1988) Keaton was probably typecast as a comedy actor until he took the lead role in the drama “Clean and Sober.” Playing the role of a drug addict trying to kick his habit, Keaton proved he had far more range than anyone ever expected.
3. “Beetlejuice” (1988) Before Johnny Depp was director Tim Burton’s go-to guy, there was Keaton. This one was an instant smash, as Keaton played the role of a mystical miscreant conjured to help a ghost couple get rid of a family residing in their former house.
2. “Night Shift” (1982) Ron Howard’s comedy introduced Keaton to movie fans, and it was a hilarious hello. Keaton teamed with Henry Winkler, and they played a couple of morgue workers who decide to turn to the prostitution business to make some extra bucks.
1. “Batman” (1989) and “Batman Returns” (1992) Keaton had a steady following from some of the aforementioned films, but successfully starring as Bruce Wayne/Batman in Burton’s two pictures about the legendary Gotham superhero put him at the top of the game.