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Tim Burton Says Michael Keaton Transformed “Like He Was Possessed by a Demon” for Beetlejuice Sequel

Photo Credit: The Geffen Company / Warner Bros. / murraymomo / MovieStillsDB
Photo Credit: The Geffen Company / Warner Bros. / murraymomo / MovieStillsDB

We’ve said his name too many times and now, Beetlejuice is returning to theaters. After nearly three decades, the Beetlejuice franchise has finally confirmed a sequel that will be coming to theaters with an expected opening date of September 4, 2024. Beetlejuice 2 is set to see the return of multiple cast members, and we’re hoping the film holds its original, dark charm.

The original Beetlejuice was a smash

The first Beetlejuice was released in 1988, featuring a hit cast including Michael Keaton as the titular character, Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis as two newly deceased ghosts, and Winona Ryder in her third-ever screen appearance. Additionally, the role of stepmother Delia Deetz served as Catherine O’Hara’s breakout role.

Michael Keaton sitting on a gravestone as Beetlejuice
Michael Keaton is set to return to his titular role in the franchise’s sequel. (Photo Credit: The Geffen Company / Warner Bros. / Demon / MovieStillsDB)

The talented cast had a big impact on the film’s success, and Tim Burton’s unique, dark comedy was a hit with audiences. The film grossed an impressive $74.5 million worldwide, won the Academy Award for Best Makeup, and received five other Oscar nominations in addition to many other awards. It was such a massive success that it inspired a Tony-nominated Broadway musical.

A follow-up film has been rumored for years

For decades, fans have been wondering if a sequel to Beetlejuice would ever come. Fans who loved the original craved more, and there were also several indications from people involved in the film that there may be some substance to the idea of another chapter.

Michael Keaton as Beetlejuice and Winona Ryder as Lydia Deetz
Several members of the original film have hinted at a possible sequel for years. (Photo Credit: The Geffen Company / Warner Bros. / lisakenobi / MovieStillsDB)

As early as 2013, Keaton and Burton hinted that there was the possibility of a sequel in the future. This was later reinforced in 2016 when Ryder spoke with CNN about a sequel, saying, “I think it would be great if it happened, if it was the right circumstances.”

Some of the same cast has been confirmed

Possibly the most exciting part of the Beetlejuice 2 news is that multiple members of the original cast will be making an appearance in their same roles. Keaton will return as the titular character, something that fans have been dreaming of for years. Ryder is set to reprise her iconic role as Lydia Deetz, and Catherine O’Hara will return as Lydia’s mother Delia Deetz.

The cast members of "Beetlejuice" posing for a photo.
Fans can expect to see some of the original cast in the upcoming sequel. (Photo Credit: The Geffen Company / Warner Bros. / Darcy / MovieStillsDB)

In addition to the original cast, fans can expect to see some new faces. One of these is Jenna Ortega, star of the new Netflix series, Wednesday, who will play the daughter of Ryder’s character.

Monica Bellucci (The Passion of the Christ, Spectre) will play Beetlejuice’s wife. Additionally, Justin Theroux is set to appear in the film, however, his role has yet to be announced.

Keaton says the movie has been a blast to make

Many fans consider Michael Keaton and Tim Burton to be an unbeatable combination. Their collaboration on the first Beetlejuice left audiences wanting more, and now that a sequel is actually happening, Keaton confirms that working with Burton is as fun as it looks.

Michael Keaton arrives at a screening in 2017
Michael Keaton arrives at a screening at TCL Chinese Theatre on September 12, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo Credit: Christopher Polk/Getty Images)

In a recent interview with Empire Magazine, Keaton praised the project’s “handmade” nature and said “Beetlejuice is the most [expletive] fun you can have working. It’s so fun, it’s so great. And you know what it is? We’re doing it exactly like we did the first movie.”

He also revealed that it took a while for all the right elements to come together before they’d make the sequel. “[Burton] and I were talking about it years and years ago, never telling anybody. I said, ‘if it happens, first of all, we’ve both said we’re doing it many times. We both agreed, if it happens, it has to be done as close to the way we made it the first time,” Keaton said. “It’s the most fun I’ve had working on a movie in I can’t tell you how long.”

He refused to use too much technology on set

One thing Keaton really appreciates is the practical filmmaking process the film is using, rather than standing in front of giant green screens to achieve the more fantastical elements of the film. “The one thing that [Tim] and I decided on early, early, early on from the beginning, if we ever did it again, I was totally not interested in doing something where there was too much technology. It had to feel handmade. It’s the most exciting thing. When you get to do that again after years of standing in front of a giant screen, pretending somebody’s across the way from you, this is just enormous fun,” Keaton said.

Michael Keaton as Beetlejuice sitting beside a woman sliced in half.
Michael Keaton is excited to be working on a more hands-on set for Beetlejuice 2. (Photo Credit: Warner Bros. / Timothy2 / MovieStillsDB)

“What made it fun was watching somebody in the corner actually holding something up for you, to watch everybody in the shrunken head room and say, ‘Those are people under there, operating these things, trying to get it right,'” he continued. “We thought, ‘You got to get this right. Otherwise, just don’t do it. Let’s just go on with our lives and do other things,'” he concluded. “So I was hesitant and cautious, and he was probably equally as hesitant and cautious over all these years. Once we got there, I said, ‘OK, let’s just go for it. Let’s just see if we can do it, if we can pull this off.'”

Keaton has seen an early cut of the film

In a recent interview, Keaton said that he has watched a first cut of the upcoming sequel and is singing its praises. “I’ve seen it now. I’m going to see it again after a couple of little tweaks in the editing room, and I confidently say this thing is great,” Keaton said. “The [original] was so fun and exciting visually. [The sequel is] all that but really beautiful and interestingly emotional here and there. I wasn’t ready for that. It’s great.”

Headshot of Michael Keaton.
Michael Keaton teases that he has seen a first cut of the Beetlejuice sequel. (Photo Credit: Christopher Polk / Getty Images for DCP)

Keaton said that he had only ever seen the original film a handful of times, and decided to re-watch it ahead of the sequel’s production. “It’s like a piece of art, you know what I mean? It’s almost like you want to take it and put it in a museum,” Keaton said of the original. “There’s just nothing like it. To do it again was a little, I guess intimidating, and I was nervous about it. I wanted to do it a long time ago. I thought maybe we should take another shot at it, and then the idea went away and no one seemed excited about it. Then it started coming back and I got excited.”

Keaton transformed into a “demon” becoming Beetlejuice again

Michael Keaton as Beetlejuice with his hands out.
Keaton was transformed for the role. (Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures / Nico / MovieStillsDB)

Several of Keaton’s co-workers say that Keaton became unrecognizable once he slipped back into the character. “It was like he was possessed by a demon, because he just went right back into it,” Burton said. 

“It was insane,” explained Catherine O’Hara. “Insane.” Jenna Ortega explained it like this: “It was like an animal with a gun had just walked into the room. To watch him physically change and appear and Michael Keaton to be gone, and for me to be dealing with this Beetlejuice guy…It blew my mind.”

More from us: Harrison Ford Transforms Into Younger Self in Upcoming Indiana Jones Film

Keaton says that he is more than happy with the final film. “I love it,” he said. “I absolutely love this thing. And I don’t [usually] talk like that. I unabashedly love this. It was not easy to pull off, and I think we did it in spades.”

Samantha Franco

Samantha Franco is a Freelance Content Writer who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Guelph, and her Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Western Ontario. Her research focused on Victorian, medical, and epidemiological history with a focus on childhood diseases. Stepping away from her academic career, Samantha previously worked as a Heritage Researcher and now writes content for multiple sites covering an array of historical topics.

In her spare time, Samantha enjoys reading, knitting, and hanging out with her dog, Chowder!