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“Beetlejuice Beetlejuice”… Beetlejuice returns in first look at Michael Keaton, Winona Ryder

Also see Catherine O’Hara reprising her role from the cult classic alongside Jenna Ortega and Justin Theroux.

Parisa Taghizadeh/Warner Bros.

Michael Keaton’s Beetlejuice in ‘Beetlejuice Beetlejuice’

It’s been 36 years, but once again, the juice is loose.

After reprising Batman in last year’s The Flash, Michael Keaton returns to another iconic role in Entertainment Weekly‘s exclusive first look at Beetlejuice Beetlejuice, the sequel to director Tim Burton‘s cult hit.

Winona Ryder and Catherine O’Hara also reprise their roles as Lydia and Delia Deetz, respectively, while Burton’s Wednesday star Jenna Ortega plays Lydia’s daughter Astrid, and The Leftovers star Justin Theroux plays Rory. Further details on Rory remain under wraps for now — unlike the titular “bio-exorcist.”

The original Beetlejuice (1988) followed the recently deceased Barbara and Adam Maitland (Geena Davis, Alec Baldwin), who enlist the aid of the mischievous demon Beetlejuice/Betelgeuse (Keaton), to expel the current living residents of their home, the Deetz family. All hell, subsequently, breaks loose.

The sequel picks up decades later with a death in the family. “That’s all I will say,” Burton tells EW in an interview. “There’s something that happens that sets things in motion.” Could that be the death of Lydia’s father, Charles Deetz (Jeffrey Jones)? The director plays coy: “We’ll see.” One thing’s for sure, Beetlejuice comes back into play.

Burton describes getting Keaton back in the classic costume and makeup as “a weird out-of-body experience.”

“He just got back into it,” the filmmaker behind 1989’s Batman (also starring Keaton) and 1993’s The Nightmare Before Christmas recalls. “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.”

<p>Parisa Taghizadeh/Warner Bros.</p> Catherine O'Hara as Delia, Jenna Ortega as Astrid, Winona Ryder as Lydia, and Justin Theroux as Rory in 'Beetlejuice Beetlejuice'

Parisa Taghizadeh/Warner Bros.

Catherine O’Hara as Delia, Jenna Ortega as Astrid, Winona Ryder as Lydia, and Justin Theroux as Rory in ‘Beetlejuice Beetlejuice’

Burton says he and Keaton have talked about a sequel on and off over the years. “Unless it felt right, he had no burning desire to do it,” the director recalls. “I think we all felt the same way. It only made sense if it had an emotional hook.”

Many concepts were floated around, some dating all the way back to the ’80s, including a treatment set in Hawaii. “We talked about lots of different things,” Burton says. “That was early on when we were going, Beetlejuice and the Haunted Mansion, Beetlejuice Goes West, whatever. Lots of things came up.”

What they needed, however, was time. His actors, including Ryder and O’Hara, had all moved on to other projects after the original came out, and “nobody,” Burton notes, “was really pushing for it.” The filmmaker also admits he didn’t initially (and still doesn’t to some degree) understand the success of the first film, so he wasn’t motivated to move forward with an idea that didn’t excite him.

The hook he was looking for, as it turns out, revolves around Ryder’s Lydia and bringing together three generations of Deetz women, including O’Hara’s Delia and Ortega’s Astrid. “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,” he explains. “That made it emotional, gave it a foundation. So that was the thing that really truly got me into it.”

Other details on the film itself are being kept secret for now, other than the presence of Monica Bellucci (Spectre), Arthur Conti (House of the Dragon), and Willem Dafoe (Poor Things) among the cast. (Dafoe previously disclosed his role as a B-movie action star who died and became a police officer in the Afterlife.) Burton feels “a bit jinx-y” about revealing such things, given that he’s still shaping the movie in the editing phase. But he does confirm he’ll be using stop-motion animation to bring a lot of the classic Beetlejuice effects to the screen. “It needed a back-to-basics, handmade quality,” he says. “It reenergized why I love making movies.”

And what about that title? Beetlejuice Beetlejuice. “It’s been, what? Thirty-five years. So it didn’t feel like Beetlejuice 2 to me,” Burton says. “It didn’t feel like that kind of a movie. The other one I thought of, because one of my favorite Dracula movies is Dracula A.D. 1972, was Beetlejuice 2024 A.D. But this was a nice simple one.”

Just don’t say the name one more time, or you risk summoning the man himself.

Beetlejuice Beetlejuice will hit theaters on Sept. 6.

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