LOS ANGELES – The original “Batman” movie was almost 25 years ago, but star Michael Keaton still seems traumatized by having to wear the Dark Knight’s big, black rubber suit.
“I’m very, very claustrophobic,” Keaton admitted to journalists gathered at the press junket for the reboot of another ‘80s hit starring an armored suit-wearing protagonist, “Robocop.”
“I drink a lot of coffee, I eat a ton of vitamins and I drink a ton of water–I couldn’t do (any) of that because I couldn’t get up to go the bathroom. So, they put me in this thing and inside–honestly, I started having panic attacks. Literally, panic attacks. So, I thought, ‘I don’t know how I’m going to do this, man. I’m feeling really, really scared.’”
“Robocop” star Joel Kinnaman could relate.
“It was a bit of a challenge to put on this suit,” the handsome Swede admitted of donning the heavy, bulky suit for the new film. “It took, like, one hour and 45 minutes to put on. It was so uncomfortable–it was digging in everywhere, it was pressing down on my shoulders, and I was sweating like a pig. After twenty minutes, I said, like, ‘I gotta get out of this!’ And then, I was thinking to myself, it was a daunting idea that I was going to have to wear this for 14 hours a day, six days a week for five months.”
But Kinnaman didn’t find much consolation from his “Robocop” costar.
“I got no sympathy from Michael Keaton when I was complaining about my suit,” Kinnaman laughed. “He was like, ‘Shut the f**k up. You got it easy! They had to glue my suit on.’”
“That sissy suit–they have air conditioning in it,” joked Keaton, who stars in the new "Robocop" as Raymond Sellers, the CEO of Omnicorp. “I enjoyed every minute of watching (Kinnaman). I’d just sit there in my little (business) suit and watch him. There was a lot of gloating.”
But Keaton did admit that wearing the Batman suit helped him develop a character for Bruce Wayne’s alter ego.
“I just worked the suit, man,” said Keaton.” I just let that suit go to work for me. And that’s kind of what you have to do.”
Kinnaman agreed that the challenge of wearing the 45 lb. suit helped him to develop his character.
“Actually the suit became one of the first seeds that led my imagination to the vulnerability that Alex Murphy felt after he became Robocop,” he said. “It was an interesting contrast because he has this body that is so powerful, but all of a sudden, he feels very uncomfortable. He’s amputated from his throat down–he doesn’t know who he is any more. Like, my little level of uncomfortability led me to think of what Alex would have felt times 1000. So, I was surprised to think that this suit that should make me feel so powerful actually made me feel vulnerable.
In one pivotal scene, Kinnaman had to rely on using only his face to express his character’s reaction to having lost almost his entire body.
“Many of the most emotionally demanding scenes, I had to be completely still–especially in the scene where I had to wake up and Dr. Norton reveals what’s left of me,” he explained. “I think if you all think back to the moments where you’ve gone through the most pain in your life, or the most severe anxiety, your body is very much involved in that. You’re body is expressing those emotions, so when we as actors try to access those feelings, the body is a great tool to use. You clench your stomach, or you do something physical, and that sort of helps your emotions along the way. In this instance, I didn’t have that luxury, so it was a little higher level of difficulty.”
Keaton was duly impressed with Kinnaman’s performance as Robocop.
“Let’s face it–I’m in this suit that, out of context, is kind of ridiculous,” said Keaton. “What (Kinnaman) did do was kind of suck back and went kind of inside and he makes theses unbelievable transitions, too–he’s human and then he’s robot, then he’s robot and human–and that’s really, really hard to do when you’re wearing a big, black suit. I was really knocked out by it–I mean, I was knocked out by the movie. But I kept watching him in it, and it was really extraordinary, what he did and he probably won’t get the credit for the degree of difficulty that was required.”
Hopefully, Keaton now feels acknowledged for all he suffered during the filming of “Batman.”