Icon Adam West relives over 40 years of fun in TV; film

By Kaiya Morrison - Reporter
Saturday, January 29, 2011 - 12:02am

NEW ORLEANS, La (CW21) – “You’re really going to enjoy this interview,” is what the publicist for Wizard Entertainment told me after booking chat time with pop culture icon, Adam West.

He was right.

Perhaps it was growing up on a farm in Walla Walla, Washington, or his year’s within an industry that sometimes takes itself too seriously, but no matter the source, West has an innate ability to keep things light and interesting.

“I’ll do anything, I have no taste,” he said with a laugh when discussing his part on the hit show “Family Guy,” which airs on FOX. “What one does is have fun with ones self, but that sounds kind of naughty. It’s just silliness. It’s theatre of the absurd.

“To have a chance to take the quirkier aspects of your personality and magnify them and make fun of yourself and be somewhat self deprecating isn’t a bad deal,” he added. “I think more actors should do it.”

With a career that spans over forty years, West has a sprawling fan base. From the Mayor of Quahog to the original Batman, everyone seems to have a question for the Tinseltown legend. And this weekend in New Orleans at the Wizard World Comic Con tour, they will have their chance.

“I get them of all ages – they’re all my victims,” he again said with a laugh. “I’ll be frank, all I care about is giving the person [fan] a good memory.

“I’ll never forget when I was a kid and a very famous star just kicked me in the head when I asked for an autograph, and I never forgot that. So when I became an actor and got some notice, I made up my mind that I would be one of the nicer ones.”

When out at festivals such as the upcoming New Orleans Comic Con, West always takes time to check out the latest with the character that made him a star - Batman.

“Look, they have the ‘Dark Knight,’ right, and it’s very explosive and dangerous. They do a lovely job with the technical expertise, the money and the talent – it’s wonderful – but it’s just not my type of thing,” West explained.

“They have the ‘Dark knight,’ so just think of me as the ‘Bright Knight,” he chuckled. “Ours was fun on several levels and it filled the family spectrum. It was somewhat innocent, except for the occasional illusion to something else.

West was offered the part on the hit show not long after graduating college. Although it only ran for a little over two seasons, the cult classic propelled West on to the world stage.

“I think it was a pretty good fit because I saw the humor in it immediately,” West said when asked if he felt right for the part when it was first optioned to him. “I wasn’t about to take it seriously, except you have to ‘play’ it seriously.”

The hero of Gotham City seemed to fly too high, however, as the fall after the shows conclusion took the “Bright Knight” to a very dark place.

“There was that period where I really resented things. In retrospect, I think it was really stupid,” he admitted when discussing the years after Batman ended. “I was really frustrated about it because it was like it closed the door on other roles and enterprises.

“That lasted for like four or five years,” he continued. “You’d go in for the countless auditions and be on the short list and then you’re told no. But you just have to keep slugging away, and pretty soon, something else comes along.”

The parts did come back. In some regards, his career became split between portraying new characters and the one that launched it. Countless offers for cameos as the “original Batman” have come over the years. Many of which he’s taken, while others he let pass by.

“I was asked a long time ago [for the first Batman movie] if I would do a cameo, and I said no,” West recalled. “Having me on is like my endorsement, and I just didn’t want to do that without knowing the vision.”

He is not, however, opposed to future propositions.

“It’s amazing what one’s imagination can do with Batman, and that’s why it always intrigued me and became my favorite character.”

Whether flying high as the Caped Crusader or riding tall in the countless number of westerns for which he stared, West has always kept his real life simple.

“I’m just a really simple guy. My wife doesn’t think I am, but I really am,” he concluded. I like gardening, taking care of the dogs, I read a lot, and I like surfing and sailing.”

And when he’s doing all of those things at home, or working on a set, he’s out at conventions like the one happening Saturday, Jan. 29 and Sunday, Jan. 30 in New Orleans.

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