Tim Burton says Beetlejuice sequel was inspired by his own journey from ‘cool teenager to lame adult’

Long-awaited follow-up to 1988 cult classic will see Jenna Ortega join original cast members Michael Keaton and Winona Ryder

Kevin E G Perry
Wednesday 20 March 2024 21:53 GMT
Johnny Depp on Tim Burton

Tim Burton has revealed that his long-awaited Beetlejuice sequel, titled Beetlejuice Beetlejuice, was inspired by his own journey “from cool teenager to lame adult”.

The original 1988 film, which has become a cult favourite, followed the recently deceased Maitlands (Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin) as they recruit the demon Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton) to try and rid their former home of the Deetz family (Jeffrey Jones, Catherine O’Hara and Winona Ryder).

The sequel, set to be released later this year on 5 September, will pick up the story decades later following a death in the family.

“That’s all I will say,” Burton told Entertainment Weekly in a new interview. “There’s something that happens that sets things in motion.”

The Edward Scissorhands director, 65, told the magazine that getting Keaton back into the iconic costume and makeup was “a weird out-of-body experience”.

“He just got back into it,” Burton said. “It was kind of scary for somebody who was maybe not that overly interested in doing it. It was such a beautiful thing for me to see all the cast, but he, sort of like demon possession, just went right back into it.”

Tim Burton directing Michael Keaton on the set of the original ‘Beetlejuice’ in 1988 (Shutterstock)

He added that he and Keaton had discussed a sequel for years, but that “unless it felt right, he had no burning desire to do it.”

Burton continued: “I think we all felt the same way. It only made sense if it had an emotional hook.”

They found that hook in the character of Astrid, played by Wednesday star Jenna Ortega, the daughter of Ryder’s character Lydia and granddaughter of O’Hara’s Delia.

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“I so identified with the Lydia character, but then you get to all these years later, and you take your own journey, going from cool teenager to lame adult, back and forth again,” explained Burton. “That made it emotional, gave it a foundation. So that was the thing that really truly got me into it.”

Last year, Burton told The Independent that working on the Beetlejuice sequel had reawakened his love for film-making.

“On this last one, Beetlejuice 2, I really enjoyed it,” he said. “I tried to strip everything and go back to the basics of working with good people and actors and puppets. It was kind of like going back to why I liked making movies.”

Meanwhile, Ortega’s casting has been hailed as “genius” by fans.

One wrote on social media: “Winona Ryder and Jenna Ortega as mother/daughter is already ICONIC.”

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