“I had never been in this genre,” says Michael Keaton of his new film American Assassin, “which I would say is an action movie more than anything.” In the wake of his recent role as the Vulture, villain of Spider-Man: Homecoming, Keaton’s latest part is as a CIA trainer called Stan Hurley: “I wouldn’t want to be on his bad side,” he says. “Stan is about taking care of business.”
Speaking to NME about the role, he explains that his action scenes were so well choreographed that he could practice for them ahead of time, while he was shooting Spider-Man: Homecoming, whose stunt team helped him learn it: “The stunt guys from this movie would send me videos and I would look on my phone and then in between shots on Spider-Man I’d start to work on them. When I showed up for the movie I was pretty prepared.”
That said, he adds he had to get in shape first: “I thought I had to get in better shape than I was, very quickly. I never got to the degree that Taylor and Dylan did, because they probably have more time – and also, they’re like 9 years old.”
The film deals with the topic of terrorism, which Keaton describes as “intense – and that’s the sad part of all this. But there wasn’t any concern about it. That’s what’s going on in the world – this is an action story that takes place in the world we live in, and that’s kinda too bad, but it’s the truth. And I think this movie is maybe a tad more intelligent than most in how it dealt with that: we dealt with most if not every cliché, in terms of how we depicted the people in ethnic groups and situations, it’s complicated, there’s a lot of grey areas in this movie.”
American Assassin is released in the UK on September 14.