My favorite Batman has always been, Adam West. Most fans of the character are usually a bit taken back when I make that statement. In my conversations, in places like ComicCon, about who is the best Batman, most fans end up totally disagreeing with me. Usually by stating that either Christian Bale or Michael Keaton were the best actors to wear the cowl. I understand why they are fan favorites. They brought depth and reality to the character. But they both portrayed Batman as The Dark Knight. Adam West portrayed Batman as The Bright Knight--a very difficult trick to pull off.
Adam West walked the tightrope between comedy and playing a hero you could truly root for. He was able to say the most absurd things very earnestly, and then convince the audience that he was totally committed to every line of dialogue. Parents, who viewed the program, caught all the camp humor, as children were fully wrapped up in the caped crusader's adventures, battling the Riddler and the Joker. It's a tough balancing act for an actor, that he pulled off beautifully. Director Joel Schumacher tried unsuccessfully to return to camp for his two Batman films, "Batman Forever" and "Batman and Robin." Both movies lacked the right balance between comedy and adventure that the Batman television series did so well. Adam West had the ability to make the audience believe in the character and his intentions no matter how ridiculous the situation seemed.
It was these qualities that drew me to cast Mr. West in a campy super hero comedy I directed, called, "Sexina." It's about a pop star private detective, named, well...Sexina. Her mission is to stop an evil robot boy band created by a greedy record company CEO, played by Mr. West. I was thrilled when my producer, Charles Ricciardi, told me that my childhood Batman accepted the part in my film. Mr. West did not disappoint. He delivered the scripted dialogue in ways I could never have imagined. When delivering lines, he used inflections and timings that were both unique and brilliant. Mr. West allowed me to throw new lines at him as we were working. He very kindly told me which ones he thought were funny--or not. The lines of his own which he ingeniously added, greatly improved his scenes. I really loved his willingness to improvise and "go off script." After one hilarious reading, I complimented Mr. West by saying, "Pure West!" He instantly laughed at the reference to his classic appearance on the Simpsons. As a performer he is simply, one of a kind.
It was so hot on the location where we were shooting, I felt badly since we were shooting in a high school auditorium over the summer with no air conditioning during a heat wave. Because it was a low budget film, we had no trailers, nor fancy craft services. To add to this, Adam was wearing a suit for the shoot. It was one from his personal wardrobe that he generously allowed us to use. How extremely hot he must have been under the stage lights! He could have complained about our "low budget" conditions. Instead, he graciously did his work, and even cracked jokes for the amusement of the crew. Adam West put in a fantastic performance. After we wrapped, he chatted and posed for photos with everyone.
I was very lucky that I got to see, first hand, why Adam West was such a great Batman. Because he is such a high quality guy, his sincerity shows through in his performances. Adam West has a true sense of comic timing that is rare, and yet he can simultaneously play the hero that you can cheer for. Getting to work with my childhood Batman, was a dream come true. I'm glad that audiences will be able to see his wonderfully campy performance, when "Sexina" comes out from Wild Eye Releasing later this month. For me, the campy Batman I grew up with, will always have a special place in my heart. When I am asked, "Who is the best Batman?" for me, it is Adam West, all the way!