Alec Baldwin Thought Beetlejuice Might Kill His Career

Alec Baldwin severed head in Beetlejuice
(Image credit: (Warner Bros))

Tim Burton, Michael Keaton and Alec Baldwin. These three big name Beetlejuice talents may all summon success today, but when they first collaborated on the 1988 dark comedy, nothing was guaranteed. Each of them were just starting out in their careers when they made the cult classic, and as Baldwin recently admitted, he felt there was some risk in starring in the offbeat movie. In his words:

When we did Beetlejuice, I had no idea what it was about. I thought my, all of our, careers are going to end with the release of this film. Maybe we're all going to be dead.

Thankfully, he couldn’t have been more wrong! Beetlejuice was the first of many hits for director Tim Burton, who later collaborated with Keaton on two Batman films and helmed hits such as Edward Scissorhands, Corpse Bride and Alice in Wonderland. Alec Baldwin’s Beetlejuice role was his first of many iconic roles such as The Hunt For Red October that he starred in alongside Sean Connery two years later.

At the time, how would Alec Baldwin know the impact of Beetlejuice would have on their careers and on pop culture? Tim Burton certainly has a specific gothic style that wasn’t sure to garner the mass appeal it has. The 1988 film followed Baldwin and Geena Davis as a recently deceased couple (now spirits), who call upon Michael Keaton’s Beetlejuice to drive a family who just moved into their house out.

In Alec Baldwin’s GQ interview, he expressed how Michael Keaton’s presence on set impressed him. Here’s what he said:

Michael came and he knew the secret because I would act and I would have some doubts… I was much more neurotic about what I would do when I was very young starting out off in films. Keaton just came out, he was like the comedy Annie Oakley. He was so self-assured. He just tore it up.

The actor also revealed that Michael Keaton improvised the line where Beetlejuice spit a loogie into his coat before saying he’d save “that guy for later.” Alec Baldwin said he was always laughing off camera due to the actor’s presence in the role.

You can check out Alec Baldwin breaking down his most memorable characters over the past 30 years in the GQ video below:

Another stand-out moment from Alec Baldwin recollection about his time on Beetlejuice is his interactions with Tim Burton. The director who has made over $4.3 billion in worldwide box office earnings from his movies was an eccentric presence on set who wouldn’t look Baldwin in the eye during their interactions so he could focus on his drawings.

Beetlejuice 2 has been reportedly been on the drawing board for years, though Tim Burton and Warner Bros recently confirmed “the project isn’t in active development.” The popular ‘80s flick may not have become a franchise, but Alec Baldwin has found iconic roles in 30 Rock and in the Mission: Impossible movies since his beginnings on the film.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.