For a long while in the run up to this year's Academy Awards, it looked like Michael Keaton was going to win the Best Actor trophy for his work in Birdman, Or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance. Even some of the most seasoned prognosticator thought that the man who went meta and skewered certain aspects of his career would be bringing home a piece of golden glory. Of course, there were some out there who thought differently, and Keaton's encounter with one well doing nay-sayer convinced him of that outcome.
During Michael Keaton's appearance on Late Show With David Letterman last night, he recounted the moment that he knew he was going to have to tuck that speech away, and it came a lot sooner than one would have thought. As the story goes, Keaton was at the Academy Awards nominees luncheon in February, and he found himself locked in conversation with one of the veteran members of the Academy. This member was particularly mesmerized with Keaton's performance in Birdman, so much that he even told him that the performance would go down in history as one of the greats. However, as Michael Keaton himself recounts below, that's exactly the moment where the tide turned for him:
I thought to myself, 'Psh, I am a lock…That's about it. That's all I need!' And as I get up he says, 'Just remember, Michael, when it comes to winning an Academy Award, illness always wins.' And I thought, 'I am so fucked right now.' I went from 'This is a done deal' to 'I'm done!'"
In that moment, Michael Keaton went from a frontrunner to a runner-up in his own eyes, and even the industry itself was starting to, if not already, swing towards Eddie Redmayne's superb performance in The Theory Of Everything. That's not to say that Keaton didn't deserve that trophy. In fact, there's still some of us who feel he was robbed the night he had to take his seat empty handed. However, as that member of the Academy pointed out, performances as characters with a sort of illness or handicap do tend to be automatic frontrunners in awards pools.
Still, at least this temporary set back lead to a great story, told with the trademark candor and humor that only Michael Keaton could bring to it. You can check out his retelling of the story in the clip below.
Birdman, Or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance is now available on Blu Ray, DVD, and Digital HD. Meanwhile, you'll be able to hear Michael Keaton's next performance in Minions, which is scheduled for release on July 10.