Jon Peters on Producing Batman, Casting Michael Keaton, and Jack Nicholson

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Do you have a favorite of all the movies you've done? Well, I like Batman because it was one that was, it broke. Nobody had done anything like that before. And I had a big affair with a conveyor over there and we fell in love. And I hired all UFC fighters to fight my stuff. There's no such thing as UFC fighter, but those guys. Marshall Arts guys. Yeah, hit guys from the tongue. Sword guys. Oh, wow. Two guys went to the hospital and they got cut because I pushed the limit on the damn thing. And we shot it on the table with the fight sequences, with the way we shot it, everything that we did. It may not look like it today, but in those days, Tim Burton was going to use a six inch knife. I said, no. And we got the blade and we got the guys and they did the thing. Michael Keaton was a great fucking bat. Genius. He was a great fucking bat. The best. The best actor in the world. He's one of the top five actresses ever lived. Look at his career. Look what he does. Look what he did on Quaalons or whatever it is, on Vyculin or whatever it is. That three hour piece. And I'm sure he's in the program. I would have guessed. I know he did because I hired him out of a movie called Clean and Sober. And I saw in his eyes he could fight because as a kid, I got in so many fights, but I would read your eyes before I'd even make a move. If I saw something I didn't like, I'd probably figure a way to get out of it. And that's how I went from Hollywood to the chairman of Sony to biotech companies to this, to that, to the UFC. Maybe it would have been great because I have good instincts and I kind of have ordinary taste, let's say. Did people resist? They resisted Michael Keaton as Batman. Nobody wanted him. Yeah. They didn't like that idea that a Canadian. Because he was a standup comic. Yeah, they wanted a six foot three guy to come in with the big muscles. I said, no, look in his eyes. He's a killer. He'll stab you five times in the neck before you even know what happened. Is he your favorite Batman? Yeah. Christian Bale is a pretty fucking good Batman too. Brilliant. He was brilliant. Yeah. Those two, those two guys. That guy is willing to do things that most people are not willing to do. Like he's willing to get fat. He's willing to like almost die of starvation. That's how they have a career. Yeah. You watch that Machinist, which is not the best movie, but what's interesting about the movie is just Christian Bale. The fact that he's basically a skeleton. Yeah. He ate like a can of tuna and an apple a day. I know. I know. The actor's crazy. He's crazy. He's a crazy. And then like six months later he was Batman. Yeah. I know. Jacked. I know. You have to be crazy. You have to be crazy to be that good. Jack Nicholson is my good friend and he's crazy as a loon. But he has to be. But and a brilliant guy and thank God he kind of retired like 10 years ago. It's Chinatown. Yeah. I know. I know. I love fucking amazing. I know. Like that guy, of course he's crazy. How else could he be that good? You can't. I'm standing on a corner, Los Deena against Santa Monica and with my wife at the time, Leslie Ann Warren, she's pregnant with my son. This goes back 50 years ago, maybe whatever it was. Four guys pulled by in the car and they go, Cinderella sucks and they flip it off. Now I'm from the Valley. So I said, just wait. She played Cinderella on television. That was her thing. So I said, wait here. I jumped in my car and I chased these guys down the street. I caught him at a signal. I came up next to him. I was about to hit him. He said, no, no, no. I'm in her acting class, man. We're all actors. That was a joke. Whatever it is. Many years later, I do Witches of Eastwick and we're going to meet Jack Nicholson. And as I walk in, he looks at me and says, hey, Cinderella sucks. It was him. Yes. That's hilarious. Yes. Holy shit. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Oh my God. That's hilarious. Yeah. No, I've got. You almost beat up Jack Nicholson. Yeah. No, but I mean, it was hilarious that it's him all those years later. Yeah. I was defending what I thought was my pregnant lady. How fucking good is he in the shining? Yeah. No, he's got. I watched that again recently too. God. He's a genius. Yeah. He's a genius. There's a few of those guys that like they, they, if you ever seen the video, I'm sure you have. There's a video of him warming up for his scene where he goes through the bathroom door with the hatchet. Yeah. I saw it. Yeah. And he's just like jumping around the room and getting so fired up. Oh my God. Damn. He never knew how to fight, but he's a tough guy. Yeah. Well, he'll fight if he has to. He was an extraordinary talent. There's people that just like captivate a story.