What The 1989 Batman Cast Is Doing Now, Including Michael Keaton

Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson in Batman
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

There was once a time when a legion of angry comic book fans had zero faith in the idea of casting Michael Keaton as Batman and another when moviegoers assumed that no one could ever top Jack Nicholson’s performance as The Joker. In the following years since, the live-action Batman movies have become subject to many major shifts in style and opinion, but one belief that remains widely accepted is that 1989’s Batman cast was an inspired choice to represent director Tim Burton’s vision of Gotham City. 

The shadow cast by the Dark Knight has not fully disappeared for some of these performers as you will see from the following breakdown of what the cast of one of the best superhero movies of all time has been up to. We shall start with the actor many fans thought Batman did not deserve, but would eventually hope to see in the role again.

Michael Keaton in 1989's Batman

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Michael Keaton (Bruce Wayne/Batman) 

After proving haters wrong in the title role of two of the best Tim Burton moviesBatman and Batman ReturnsMichael Keaton (whose real name is Michael Douglas) later satirized comic book movies with his Academy Award-nominated role in the Best Picture Oscar winner, Birdman. He returned to the genre with 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming as one of the best Spider-Man movie villains, the Vulture and, following his Emmy win for leading Hulu’s Dopesick cast, made an awesome return as Batman in The Flash in 2023. 

Whether or not Keaton will return in any upcoming DC movies remains undetermined, but we do know he is reprising the title role of Beetlejuice 2, directed and stars in Knox Goes Away (which premiered at TIFF in 2023), and, is set to star in Goodrich opposite Mila Kunis. Outside of acting, he has partnered with a construction company in his native Pittsburgh to develop green building solutions.

Jack Nicholson in Batman.

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Jack Nicholson (Jack Napier/The Joker) 

The man behind The Joker in 1989’s Batman, Jack Nicholson, has been retired from acting since he appeared in the 2010 rom-com, How Do You Know. Before then, however, he would reunite with Burton and give one of his most underrated performances for the 1996 sci-fi comedy, Mars Attacks!, win his third Oscar for As Good As It Gets, and star in one of Martin Scorsese’s best movies, The Departed, in 2006. While we may have seen the last of the icon’s acting talents, the long-time basketball fan was more recently depicted in HBO’s 1980s-set series about the L.A. Lakers, Winning Time, as portrayed by Max E. Williams.

Kim Basinger in 1989's Batman

(Image credit: Warner Bros)

Kim Basinger (Vicki Vale)

Ambitious photo journalist Vicki Vale is traditionally a redhead in the comics. However, the blonde Kim Basinger was one of the top actors of her generation when cast in Batman ’89 after (technically) being a Bond girl in 1983’s Never Say Never Again and sharing on-screen romances with Mickey Rourke (9-1/2 Weeks) and a pre-Die Hard Bruce Willis (Blind Date). 

She continued to achieve great success throughout the '90s (notably her Oscar-winning role in the masterful period crime thriller L.A. Confidential), the early 2000s (such as playing Eminem’s mom in 8 Mile), and more recently the Fifty Shades movies as the seductive antagonist, Elena Lincoln. In 2021, Basinger would lend her voice to the animated short Back Home Again, and the video game, Crime Boss: Rockay City, in 2023.

Robert Wuhl in Batman

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Robert Wuhl (Alexander Knox)

To get the scoop on Batman, Vale partners with reporter Alexander Knox, which is probably Robert Wuhl’s biggest role to date. Then again, he previously starred in the Robin Williams classic Good Morning Vietnam and one of the best sports movies, Bull Durham. Of course, it would be shameful to forget about his run as the title character of the HBO comedy Arli$$ (which he also created). 

The two-time Emmy winner (both for co-writing Billy Crystal’s Oscar host material in the early 1990s) did not reprise his brief role in 1997’s Good Burger in the 2023  sequel, unfortunately, but did reprise his Batman ’89 character for the Arrow-verse’s Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event in 2019. Wuhl also appeared in When George Got Murdered – a 2021 drama about George Floyd – voiced himself on American Dad! for the fifth time in 2023, and his comedy, Ellipses and Semi-Colons, is in post-production.

Billy Dee Williams in Batman

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Billy Dee Williams (Harvey Dent)

It took nearly three decades for Batman ‘89’s Harvey Dent actor, Billy Dee Williams, to finally play Two-Face (the Gotham City DA’s criminal alter ego), in 2017’s The LEGO Batman Movie. Two years later, in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, he reprised his best known role, Lando Calrissian, whom he has since voiced in a few spin-offs of the Star Wars universe (also in LEGO form). 

The former Colt 45 spokesperson more recently became one of the celebrity guests of Scooby-Doo and Guess Who? in 2021 and did an episode of Max’s Sex and the City revival, And Just Like That…, in 2023. That same year, Williams released a memoir called, What Have We Here?

Tracey Walter in Batman

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Tracey Walter (Bob The Goon)

According to a DVD featurette, Jack Nicholson recommended that his good friend, Tracey Walter, play the overlooked Batman movie character and Joker's "Number One guy," Bob. The actor is also known for the likes of 1984’s Conan the Destroyer alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger; the sci-fi cult classic, Repo Man, from the same year; the 1991 Oscar-winning drama, Philadelphia, with Tom Hanks, and plenty more brief roles in notable films. 

Walter would later play another villain in a comic book adaptation – the beloved animated series, Teen Titans – and starred in one of the more recent Rob Zombie movies, 31, in 2016. That would also turn out to be one of his last roles, as he hasn't appeared in anything since that year.

Jerry Hall in Batman

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Jerry Hall (Alicia)

The character who most closely resembled Harley Quinn before she even debuted in Batman: The Animated Series was Jack Napier’s girlfriend, Alicia, played by Jerry Hall. The model and actor previously made her debut alongside John Travolta in 1980’s Urban Cowboy.

She then went on to appear in small, often unnamed, roles in films like Freejack (starring her then husband, Mick Jagger) or frequently play herself, such as in Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie from 2016. Her last known acting credit was a 2018 drama called Hellbent, but, in 2022, she appeared in the Netflix original docuseries, The Andy Warhol Diaries

Jack Palance in Batman

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Jack Palance (Carl Grissom)

An inciting incident that actually leads to Napier's clownish transformation is when his affair with Alicia is discovered by her beau and Napier's boss, Carl Grissom. The Gotham City crime lord in Batman was actually one of two villains Jack Palance played in 1989, along with Yves Perret in the Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell-led buddy cop action movie, Tango & Cash. 

Two years later, he would win his sole Academy Award for playing Curly in the western-comedy, City Slickers. Westerns, such as the 1954 classic Shane, were once Palance’s bread and butter before appearing mostly in TV movies by the end of his career until he passed away in 2006 at the age of 87.

Pat Hingle in Batman

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Pat Hingle (Commissioner James Gordon)

Also known for acting in westerns before (and even after) he was cast as James Gordon in Batman was Pat Hingle. The actor would go on to reprise the role of the Gotham City Police Commissioner three more times until Batman & Robin bombed and put the franchise on hold in 1997. 

While Gordon is also the character he is best known for, the actor still has his fair share of iconic credits – including Stephen King’s directorial debut, Maximum Overdrive; the Richard Pryor classic, Brewster’s Millions; the 1983 Dirty Harry sequel, Sudden Impact; and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby in 2006. The funny Will Ferrell movie would actually see one of Hingle’s final appearances before he passed away at 84 three years later.

Michael Gough in Batman

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Michael Gough (Alfred Pennyworth)

Also known for being one of the few actors to appear in all four Batman movies from the Burton/Shumacher eras is Michael Gough. His performance as Bruce Wayne’s longtime servant and father figure, Alfred Pennyworth, is considered to be one of the best things about Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, as well. 

The English actor would work with Burton three more times in 1999’s Sleepy Hollow, the not-so-scary "horror" movie, Corpse Bride; and 2010’s Alice In Wonderland, in which he voiced a dodo bird. That would officially be Gough’s last acting credit before he, at 94, passed away in 2011.

While it is sad to reflect on those from the Batman cast whom we have lost, at least we can be thankful to have seen such legendary names help bring the Dark Knight back onto the big screen and into the mainstream with the acclaimed box office smash, which was the most popular movie of 1989. Now, more than three decades later, we still have multiple upcoming Batman movies to look forward to and can only hope they will live up to this classic that still entertains comic book movie fans of all ages.

Jason Wiese
Content Writer

Jason Wiese writes feature stories for CinemaBlend. His occupation results from years dreaming of a filmmaking career, settling on a "professional film fan" career, studying journalism at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO (where he served as Culture Editor for its student-run print and online publications), and a brief stint of reviewing movies for fun. He would later continue that side-hustle of film criticism on TikTok (@wiesewisdom), where he posts videos on a semi-weekly basis. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.