’60 Minutes’ Michael Keaton interview tells of his love for Pittsburgh

The CBS news magazine “60 Minutes”, known for its ticking stopwatch, devoted a large part of its program on Sunday evening to discovering how Michael Keaton ticks.

A native of Robinson Township, Keaton has enjoyed tremendous success as an A-list actor in Hollywood over the past three decades. He’s supported his career by taking risks and moving from crazy bonnet comedy to deadly serious topics in his choice of film roles.

The risks have paid off, and Keaton is playing a doctor on a Hulu miniseries called “Dopesick” this month. It’s about the country’s opioid epidemic, and correspondent Jon Wertheim reveals that the story has a personal connection for Keaton.

Keaton’s nephew died of problems with fentanyl and heroin.

Wertheim asked Keaton what it was like to have such a personal connection with a role.

“You have to remove the emotions and, as I keep saying, ‘What’s the job?’ I’m just a storyteller, “said Keaton.

The role is a far cry from early Keaton comedies like “Night Shift” and “Beetlejuice”, a light-hearted fare that could have typified him.

The 60-minute piece focuses on the broad spectrum of roles that he has taken on. Something that Wertheim describes as “its breathtaking versatility” and “character bouncy castle”, which Keaton downplayed in the interview.

“You’re talking about range, that’s flattering, but range is snuggly, you know,” Keaton said. “I don’t think of – you played that and you were funny and then you were a sad man – that’s not really range for me.” With further insistence, Keaton finally admits that there is range within a character.

The play goes on to show how the acting bug bit Keaton at a young age when his family won a black and white television in a raffle. It changed life. He loved watching old westerns and “wanted to be these people”.

After a year of college at Kent State, he dropped out and devoted himself to acting and stand-up comedy.

The segment documents how playing Batman in 1989 catapulted Keaton to elite status in Hollywood. Twenty-five years later he won a Golden Globe for the lead role in “Birdman,” which he says Wertheim was “mostly the toughest role” he has ever had.

“I was never afraid of going to dark or creepy or really, really, really rough places,” said Keaton.

Wertheim reports that Keaton often returns home to the Pittsburgh area and would spend more time here if he wasn’t so busy in Hollywood.

In the “60 Minutes” story it was mentioned that Keaton is an investor in a construction company called Nexii that wants to produce environmentally friendly alternatives to concrete. A location has not been selected, but he hopes to bring it to western Pennsylvania.

“I get that, and I really like it,” said Keaton. “When I have the opportunity to do something – leave my money where my mouth is – you can no longer have just one opinion on climate change. The bill is due. ”

Paul Guggenheimer is a contributor to Tribune Review. You can contact Paul at 724-226-7706 or pguggenheimer@triblive.com.

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