”A big meteor has hit Hollywood, and the dinosaurs are dying,” declares 66- year-old Adam West, who plays Peter Weller’s coldhearted father in The New Age. ”The guys and ladies in power are the ones who appreciated me.”
For West, best known for his larger-than-life role as Batman in the television series that ran from 1966 to ’68 and then developed a kitschy cult following in syndication, the post-Batman years have been lean. Typecast as that guy who wore tights and a cape, he has had a hard time getting meaty parts. ”The question was, do I want to be bitter and angry and go the way of so many that have just done themselves in? Or do I want to keep trying to be a creative person?” says West, whose resonant baritone is still so identifiable that telephone operators frequently recognize him.
Through the ’70s and ’80s, West took what small TV roles came his way (including the voice of Batman in the 1977-78 animated series The New Adventures of Batman), and made a dozen B movies, including 1980’s The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood. But mostly he has cashed in on Batman’s appeal, appearing at collectors’ conventions and colleges and lecturing about life in the Batcave. It’s ”everything that (the) Star Trek (industry) does—and more,” says West, who has homes in L.A.; Ketchum, Idaho; and Haute-Savoie, France (he and his third wife, Marcelle, have six kids between them).
Suddenly, his career is having a second act, thanks in part to nostalgia. The first hint came in 1992, when he turned up as a guest star on Fox’s hip Ben Stiller Show. Last year the network cast him in the short-lived summer series Danger Theatre. West happily hyped his recent autobiography, Back to the Batcave, on Late Night With Conan O’Brien (”I put the batcowl on (fellow guest) Paula Zahn. It really loosened her up”). In The New Age, West holds his own with costars Weller and Judy Davis. He’ll appear with Betty Buckley in the upcoming Ride for Your Life, an interactive film that lets the audience determine the plot. And he’ll soon costar in The Clinic, a Comedy Central soap opera satire that he describes as ”very racy, very adult.”
”If you hang around long enough, they think you’re good,” says West. ”It’s | either my tenacity or stupidity, I’m not sure which.”