::FILM NEWS::   
LE Newsletter - August 30, 2007

 

  Batman Won't Let Adam West Leave The Bat Cave

Excerpt from www.globeandmail.com - R.M. Vaughan

(August 24, 2007) When I was six years old, I had a crush on Adam West. No, I was not enduring an early puberty. Like many geeky six-year-olds, I was a Batman fanatic. I had a miniature Batmobile and a Batman Utility Belt, plus a blue plastic cape and cowl. If only I'd left those toys in their original boxes, I'd have enough money for a down payment on a condo. It's tempting to view West's acting career as another shrink-wrapped relic, but he hasn't stopped working since his blue briefs breakthrough and, at 78, he's busier than ever. His oiled, mellow voice is in constant cartoon demand, and he has a regular role on Family Guy, wherein he plays the pervy Mayor Adam West. But Batman won't let Adam West leave the bat cave. His appearance at this weekend's Fan Expo Canada, a comics and sci-fi “genre event” (i.e. nerd fest) at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre is the talk of the pimply blogosphere. Perhaps West's campy, go-go sixties portrayal of Batman has endured because it was performed with a broad, knowing wink – as a celebration, not deconstruction, of the delicious silliness of the superhero formula. Or maybe it's because his legs looked so very good in tights.

You've thrived post-Batman, but many actors who don capes find it hard to get parts after the costume is put away.

I think it's because I'm just plain stubborn – aside from being hugely talented, very bright, and funny.

After hundreds of gigs, there must be some that you treasure … and a few that you regret.

Well, let me address the latter – there's certainly a handful of really miserable movies. But in each case I went in prepared and tried to bring something fresh and interesting. There are certainly some things that I'm proud of as well – a couple of movies, like The Marriage of a Young Stockbroker and The New Age, and a great comedy pilot I did called Lookwell, co-written by Conan O'Brien.

What happened to that?

It was the favourite at NBC the year it was done, and then the top executives were replaced. But it still plays in theatres when they have “best comedy pilots” nights. It didn't fade away.

You're the only person on the planet to appear on both The Simpsons and its archrival, Family Guy.

I know! Isn't that great! I am so lucky. They must appreciate my sense of the absurd.

When you started working, stars were not as thoroughly scrutinized as they are today. Does the boom in “celebrity news” surprise you?

The only thing I can think of is that because we have such a proliferation of media, young celebrities have to do things that are outrageous. There was a time when I was reported to be, um, I guess, a very … hmm … a man with a lot of stamina. A womanizer and a boozer. But I've got a beautiful wife and wonderful kids, and it's all I can do to keep up with them!

Well, now I have to ask: Please tell me Tallulah Bankhead made a pass at you when she appeared on Batman.

She was very ill at the time. I made her sick! No, she was ill, and I think it was her last show. She sat by herself in the semi-darkness, so I made a point to go over and talk to her and ask her questions. She was terrific to work with, and she had a hell of a background!

Given the amount of TV you've done, I bet you're cashing some hefty residual cheques.

Last week, I got six cents from Bolivia! But I did get a nicer cheque today from Family Guy.

Why do you do these conventions? Don't some of the obsessive fans scare you?

No, not so much, because I have five bodyguards at all times, with automatic weapons.

You can tell me: After working for 60 years, do you ever just phone it in?

Never. I know some actors who send a stand-in when they're not on camera – so, you're not playing to a character they've created, but to some jerk who's just reading lines. That's a lesson to me. I will never leave when someone else is working. I stay on camera.

It's no secret that you've been less than thrilled with the sombre turn of recent Batman films.

(Sighs). I know … they don't want to touch what we did. They have a lot of talent and a lot of money to play around with, but somehow they still miss the mark. What's Batman without fun?

You're almost 80 and you're still doing red-carpet parades, still on the guest list.

I don't know whether I'm on list A or Z, but I'm there! Maybe I bring a little fun to people. Or maybe they just like to laugh and jeer at me.

*****

Particulars

Born  Sept. 19, 1928, in Walla Walla, Washington, as William West Anderson.
First roles  Co-starred with a chimpanzee  in The Kini Popo Show, a 1950s children's TV series, then made the sitcom rounds with visiting roles on shows such as The Real McCoys, Gunsmoke and Perry Mason.
Breakout role  The Batman TV series began  airing in 1966.

Latest moves  Has a recurring role on Family Guy as Mayor Adam West.

Relationship status  Married to Marcelle Lear, his third wife, with whom he shares four children, two from her previous marriage. West also has two kids from his second marriage to Ngatokoruaimatauaia Frisbie Dawson. For the full story.

Read Back to the Batcave, West's autobiography.