Michael Keaton on Shakespeare and Much Ado About Nothing

From HitFix:

Actually, you're right, it would fit the character. I think there's an improv thing where I hump something in "Much Ado."

They may have cut that out. But that was a character, you know, I was with a buddy of mine that I knew. He's truly, 100% an intellectual, this guy. He's a really interesting guy. He's written this really wonderful book called "Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks," which I really recommend. And he's a really cool dude. But he's a dude from Pittsburgh, he talks that way, he's got all these expressions. We were talking about that last night and he's a crazy Shakespeare fan. He loves Shakespeare so much. I took one little Shakespeare thing in one of my acting classes. I didn't understand Shakespeare. I'd never done any of it or anything. And at first I said to Kenneth [Branagh], "You don't want me doing this." He kept insisting and he said, "No, this is going to work." He really wanted to use American actors and he was using stars, Denzel and everybody. He said, "No, everybody, don't do it with British accents. Don't do that." And I said, "Well, OK, I'm out."
But he kept coming at me. I said, "Give me a minute." And I had this kind of half of a character I used to do, but I used to do it with Valri Bromfield, who was a partner for a while with Danny Aykroyd. She was one of the funniest women I've ever met in my life. And she and I used to goof around and do these guides. She'd do this one guide and we had a way of speaking and I took that and I added, like, this kind of crisp, Celtic vibe, like half of a Celtic accent. And interestingly, when I went to a Shakespeare coach to work on the character and talked to him about it and said, "Here's what we're going to try to do" — and he thought I was nuts — but he said, you know, interestingly there are scholars who think that some of that language was really from the Celts, from Ireland and parts of Scotland and not England. I said, "Well, whatever. I know nothing about it." It's just something — I had to find a way in because for me to speak like this, I said, "I don't know how to do that." And also, you say what you want about the comedy. I guess back then people thought some of that shit was funny. They'd go, "Oh, he's one of the wonderful comic characters." And I'd go, "Not for me, man."

[Laughs.] You had to put a spin on it for yourself. You had to put some English on it, so to speak.
No shit. And so I said, "OK, this is what I'm going to do," and I'm sure scholars will hate me but I found no other way to do it. Then there was a guy where I grew up who was a local constable. And that's actually what Dogberry is, is a constable. But I never knew what a constable was and I remember this guy — I always found this guy really slippery. We all did. He would come in and he'd always want things from my dad and my dad would never do it. He'd want a favor here or a favor there, you know? He's never straight-up about anything. And I based a lot of the character on him and just thinking about that guy and how to kind of watch him.
Then I wanted to add to him, like, kind of a little bit of badass. There's stuff that's cut out of that movie where Dogberry actually really confronts a guy and threatens him. It's funny but you go, "This guy might be crazy," you know? And that was really fun. But that was one of the most fun things I ever did. And I had a horrible fever. I got really sick and I was sick almost the whole time. And the weather was so hot; it was like 95 degrees every day in Tuscany, where we shot it. In all that hot clothing and I was constantly dripping in sweat, sick through almost the entire shoot. But I really loved doing that movie. In fact that's something, of all the things I want to do — there are now a bunch of things I want to do but I would really like to grab a Shakespeare piece again somewhere.

What about theater?
Yeah. And, I mean, that would really be ballsy because I'm sure they'd line up to stone me. But if I could find a smaller role that I could manage… It's so fun to try to pull it off because it's like learning another language. It's like doing a role in a foreign language, you know? The discussion about, "What does this mean?" And you know what was really the coolest? I showed up to the set, I was so nervous thinking, "I've got to be around all these Shakespearean actors and they're going to look right down their nose at me." But they were the coolest guys. You'd be doing a scene and these guys working on Shakespeare several times would stop and say to Kenneth Branagh, "What does that mean? When he says…" And I'd go, "Oh! I am so relieved!" And then he'd say, "Well, he's really saying this but, you know, remember," blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And I'd go, "Oh, man." That really took a lot of the pressure off. They were so cool about it. They would read the London Times and I'd get up, do the scene, no big deal.

That's fun.
Yeah it was cool.

Read more at http://www.hitfix.com/in-contention/michael-keaton-remembers-harold-ramis-tackling-shakespeare-and-ron-howards-gung-ho#226WqQddRLvBWTJq.99

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