Michael Keaton burst onto the movie scene in 1982 with his memorable performance as the fast-talking character Bill Blazejowski, aka Billy Blaze, in Ron Howard’s Night Shift. Opposite Henry Winkler as a quiet, unassuming morgue attendant, Keaton was a ball of fire, an enterprising young man who carried a tape recorder so he wouldn’t forget all his great ideas.
What was especially fun about Keaton’s performance was that he made the character likable, despite his often dishonest intentions. Keaton had been showing up on television shows and movies in small parts, but his turn in Night Shift was the right role at the right time.
He capitalized on that opportunity by starring in Mr. Mom the following year. Written by John Hughes, the movie caught the tenor of the times and Keaton’s often exasperated yet entirely sympathetic performance made it soar. Since then, Keaton has continued to portray a series of likable characters in comedies and dramas, though he’s occasionally shown his darker, sinister side in movies like Pacific Heights, Desperate Measures and the RoboCop remake. We were intrigued to hear that he might joinSpider-Man: Homecoming as a villain, though it doesn’t sound like that will work out.
Instead, we can now anticipate his role as businessman Ray Kroc in The Founder. The idea of Keaton playing an Illinois salesman in the 1950s who saw the potential in a Southern California burger place called McDonald’s didn’t sound inherently dramatic. But the first trailer has definitely piqued our interest.
Initially, Keaton as Kroc looks sleepy and even bored as he makes his sales rounds, yet he becomes much more animated and excited when he stumbles upon the first McDonald’s and realizes the potential for growth. The film will tell how he took over the operation from two brothers (Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch) and created a business empire worth billions.
Even in the first trailer, Keaton is pushing the boundaries for his character. Will he remain a likable salesman or transform into an unlikable and avaricious executive? John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side) directed. Look for The Founder in theaters on August 5.