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The Brave and The Bold

Mayor Adam West talks Night of the Bat

By Richard Whittaker, 10:30AM, Sat. Jun. 5, 2010

Adam West: The man, the mayor, the caped crusader
Adam West: The man, the mayor, the caped crusader

You can't deny it: Batman is Adam West and Adam West is Batman. There were Bruce Waynes before him and after him, but the mayor of Quahog is wore the purple tights like no-one else. Almost 44 years after the original Austin premier of the 1966 Batman movie, West returns to The Paramount this Sunday, June 6, as part of the Night of the Bat.

Austin Chronicle: Between the film, the original series, and cameos in cartoons, Batman has been part of your life for four decades. How did you get the part?

Adam West: I'd been in Europe doing some films after doing a series (The Detectives) here with the late Robert Taylor for NBC. Before I left, I did a series of commercials for Nestle in which I did sort of a James Bond spoof. I found out late that the producers at Fox and ABC had seen those commercials, and evidently I impressed them in so far as they thought, "Hey, this is the turkey to play Batman." I think they liked my sense of humor.

AC: Considering how dark the caped crusader can be, the humor was an enormous part of the show.

AW: We had so much talent, and wonderful people with whom I worked. We didn't have all those modern computer enhancements, the special effects and props they have today. We just slapped on makeup and funny costumes and did it. It took a lot of stretching of the imagination, but that's what we were paid for, to bring something that was some kind of theater of the absurd that, at the same time, the kids could take realistically and extract all those lessons and morality and ethics from.

AC: You worked with major talent on the show, like Burgess Meredith and Cesar Romero. What was life like on the set?

AW: It was usually an extremely friendly and humorous environment, and I tried to make it that way when I walked in – light and fun – to so nobody would take it seriously, just perform seriously. Everyone understood what it was, and when I first read the pilot script by Lorenzo Semple Jr., I knew in talking to the other that we were all going to get married and have the same kind of approach, which was a blessing.

AC: You're also in that rare situation as an actor of being able to play yourself: Quite literally in Family Guy, where you play Mayor Adam West.

AW: Seth (McFarlane, creator of Family Guy) had written a pilot for me a few years earlier. We got along extremely well and I think we share the same comic sensibilities. When it occurred to them to have the mayor, they just called my agent, and he told me about it and I said, "Seth? Of course I'll do it. I love the guy and I know what he does, and for me it could be enormously funny."

AC: Do you ever go back and re-watch the old Batman show?

AW: Did you hear about my new DVD, Adam West Naked, in which I reveal everything you wanted to know about 120 episodes? I sneak away into the basement, the attic, and other places where no-one can hear me, and I speak directly to you, the camera. It's kind of fun because evidently Fox and Warner have not been able to get together about releasing DVDs of our series. People keep asking me, so I thought I'd go one better and do this thing myself.

Adam West will be doing a Q&A after the screening of Batman (1966) at The Paramount, 2pm, June 6: Tickets available via the Paramount website. Adam West Naked is available through the Adam West store.

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