Michael Keaton holds student Q&A before commencement speech


Actor Michael Keaton meets with Kent State students for a 30-minute Q&A in the Center for Performing Arts before his commencement speech Saturday. 

Cameron Hoover

Actor Michael Keaton met with Kent State students from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the School of Theatre and Dance for a Q&A session before heading to commencement Saturday.

The Academy Award nominee opened the floor at the Center for Performing Arts to student questions for approximately 25 minutes before a five-minute Q&A with media.

Keaton spoke fondly of his time as a student at Kent State from 1971-73, but said he hardly recognized campus. He said he managed to go to one of the houses he lived in during his time as a student, but hadn’t had any time to visit any local businesses.

Despite saying he “works at not living in hindsight,” Keaton did look back on his career to offer some advice to the students, some of whom donned their caps and gowns in preparation for their graduation commencement.

“Always take risks,” Keaton said. “Just trust yourselves. Don’t be afraid to stick your neck out. … This really goes for anything, but especially in terms of performance, if you’re not only willing to make a fool of yourself, … you’re not really doing it right, if you ask me.”

Keaton is famous for playing the Caped Crusader in Tim Burton’s “Batman,” the Vulture in “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” and the titular spirit in “Beetlejuice.” He referred to Best Picture winner “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” as his most artfully influential film.

Keaton, who played Walter Robinson in 2015’s “Spotlight,” stressed the growing importance of journalism in today’s society. Keaton originally studied journalism.

“It’s extraordinarily important, more important than ever,” Keaton said. “For all the obvious reasons, but autocratic language calling journalists the ‘enemy of the people,’ I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that’s basically a threat to the First Amendment.”

Before leaving, Keaton expressed his excitement to be the commencement speaker this year.

“I was a kid walking around here, a kid around Pittsburgh, getting out in the world,” Keaton said. “I never would’ve thought this would happen. I really care about doing this today. I don’t know why it would, but if some one little thing I say has some little impact on some person today, man, who gets to have that in their life?”

Cameron Hoover is the managing editor. Contact him at [email protected].