While Jack Nicholson was already one of Hollywood’s top stars when Batman first debuted in 1989, Tim Burton was just getting his career started in the industry. Charged with leading a big-screen reimagining of the Caped Crusader, that production wasn’t without its own issues—including the lack of communication between Burton and Nicholson while filming the project.
In the latest issue of Empire, Burton recalled he had to have someone effectively translate what Nicholson was saying on set as the filmmaker didn’t understand his drawl.
“Jack has a very abstract way of speaking,” the filmmaker said. ” So he would say things to me and I’d go, ‘Yeah, I get it,’ and then I’d go to someone, ‘What the f*** was he just talking about?’ So there was this weird communication: non-linear, non-connective … But it was very clear to me. I felt like we had a good sort of caveman-style communication.”
Communication difficulties aside, Burton added that Nicholson helped him find his place as a filmmaker, even looking to the actor as mentor in the land of Tinsel Town.
“[Nicholson] protected me and nurtured me, kept me going, by just not getting too overwhelmed with the whole thing,” Burton added. ” I felt really supported by him in a very deep way. I was young and dealing with a big studio, and he just quietly gave me the confidence to do what I needed to do. And him being a voice of support had a lot of resonance with the studio. It got me through the whole thing. It gave me strength.”
Most recently, Burton got to finally but his stamp on The Addams Family by producing Netflix’s wildly popular Wednesday series.
“When I read this [script], it just spoke to me about how I felt in school and how you feel about your parents, how you feel as a person. It gave the Addams Family a different kind of reality. It was an interesting combination,” Burton recalled to Empire Magazine.
“In 1976, I went to a high-school prom,” Burton detailed. “It was the year Carrie came out. I felt like a male Carrie at that prom. I felt that feeling of having to be there but not be part of it. They don’t leave you, those feelings, as much as you want them to go.”
Batman is now streaming on HBO Max.