Sunday, March 20, 2011

Michael Gough, RIP

Some very sad news this week with the passing of actor Michael Gough at the age of 94. During his 70 year acting career, the quintessentially British Gough amassed a massive catalogue of credits both on stage and screen, in England and stateside, but I'm willing to bet that the lion's share of people's memories of the actor come from his stint as Alfred Pennyworth, the bat man to three different Batmen over four different films. Assuming the role in Tim Burton's Batman in 1989 and reprising it for Burton in 1992's Batman Return (he would also reunite with the director in 2000 with Sleepy Hollow), Gough remained with the series through its transition to director Joel Schumacher with Batman Forever in 1995, right to its bitter (very bitter) end in 1997's Batman & Robin -- one of only two actors to stay for the duration (the other being the late Pat "Commissioner Gordon" Hingle).

While Michael Caine has done a tremendous job of making the Alfred role his own in the Chris Nolan Bat-series, Gough's reassuring presence at the center of what was becoming an increasingly far-fetched and nerve-deadening franchise provided it with one of its few constants (both for the audience and the characters), allowing for alternately touching and amusing byplay with all three actors who essayed the title role -- Micheal Keaton, Val Kilmer, and George Clooney. Gough's storyline in the final film -- with Alfred suffering from a fatal ailment that forces Bruce Wayne to deal with the ramifications of possibly losing his only parent -- provided that monstrosity with its sole emotional throughline, and that alone would have made him the Batman series' MVP, even if he didn't already have a career's worth of experience earning that honor.

1 comment:

Ian Sokoliwski said...

Oddly enough, even though Batman was the first flick I ever saw him in, I'll mostly remember Michael for his turn in The Horror Of The Black Museum.