Adam West, star of a new Fox network promotional campaign called "What's Adam West Watching," couldn't be more comfortable with comedy. This is the man, after all, who played one of the darkest crime fighters for campy laughs. "They have the Dark Knight, OK? I'm the bright knight, if you will," says the star of the '60s series Batman.
The 81-year-old actor's cool deadpan still serves him well in duties ranging from mayor of Quahog on Family Guy to the new promos, in which he tells viewers which Fox shows he loves, with much comedy along the way. TVGuide.com recently caught up with West.
TVGuide.com: The new Fox TV spots, "What's Adam West Watching?" are hilarious. How did you get involved with this?
Adam West: They just called me. I saw what they wrote and it's my kind of humor. It's my kind of comedy and I felt they were really onto me. Somehow they were able to lift my skin and see what's inside. In other words, these guys thought funny. There's good writers and it's like being the performer and the head writer, but they brought me good stuff. They were terrific. People seem to love those spots.
TVGuide.com: Family Guy has really utilized you as well. Are you going to be popping up more on the show?
West: Yes, I've just done three more. I expect to be the mayor of Quahog as long as graft and corruption keeps me alive.
TVGuide.com: Looking back on your career, what are you most proud of?
West: Anything of the moment. I have to be because half the time they don't believe that we can do it. I don't know whether that makes any sense, but it's like somebody said 'What's your favorite role?' and my only answer is and can be is what I'm doing now. You really have to embrace whatever you're doing. I love comedy.
TVGuide.com: Did you imagine when you were playing Batman that someday it would be one of the biggest movies ever?
West: Not really. I was just so busy doing it, but I had a feeling because, as a kid, I had read Batman comic books and I thought this character could really move in so many different generations and levels. Batman can be in the future, he can be on an alien planet. I guess it's partially true with a lot of the superhero creations, but Batman seems to be able to be more flexible, more fluid. I guess because he's a regular guy who just worked very hard in developing himself and his abilities, and then, in my case, I gave it that comedic overlay to make it fun. That worked because that way the whole family can enjoy it. As kids get older and realize what the gags are, what the ironies are ... then they enjoy it with their kids and get a laugh out of it.
TVGuide.com: Some actors, like Val Kilmer and Michael Keaton, seem to play the character like Bruce Wayne's secret identity is Batman, but others, like George Clooney and perhaps Christian Bale, seem to play it like Batman's secret identity was Bruce Wayne. Which way did you play it?
West: I played it as totally a secret identity that is Bruce Wayne as the alter ego. How can I put this? They have the Dark Knight, OK? I'm the bright knight, if you will. There's a dark knight and there was a bright knight. The key is, for me as the character, to think that nobody would ever guess who I am, but on the other hand, to make it obvious, so that it becomes absurd. It really was theater of the absurd. With the villains that we had, the great actors who played our chief villains, it was almost Shakespearean. It gave me a chance to be bigger than life and do things that were quite theatrical.
TVGuide.com: Do you ever see any of the old folks from the Batman days, like Julie Newmar? How do you guys look back on those days?
West: Yes, I saw Julie about two weeks ago. ... How can I say this? I embrace them because continuously afterward people greet me and react to me with such warmth and humor. In other words, I can get away with anything.
TVGuide.com: If you had a chance, what current show would you want to go over and guest-star on right now?
West: You know, I've been doing things like 30 Rock, little cameo things. I think a bit of stunt casting is what I'm normally victimized with, but that's OK. I don't mind having fun with my own character; laughing at myself a little. Like Family Guy, you bring out the quirkier elements of your personality and magnify it. What show? Hmmm. Maybe House, playing a quirky doctor.
TVGuide.com: Is there anywhere else we'll be seeing you soon?
West: I have a lot of appearances. I do Batman conventions and signings. I've got some more Family Guy's like you mentioned. I've got a new DVD that was just released. Do you know about that?
TVGuide.com: No, I don't. Tell me about it.
West: Hang on. Are you sitting down?
West: It's called Adam West Naked [Laughs]. Wait till you see the cover! It's flying out the door, believe me. Adam West Naked in which I reveal all about 120 episodes of Batman. I figured if they didn't release the episodes, if they can't do it on DVD and can't get together about it, then I'd do my own and I did. Wait until you see the picture. Adam West Naked.
TVGuide.com: Well thank you so much. It was really, truly an honor to speak to you. This is going to sound wrong, but I can't wait to see Adam West Naked.
West: Well that's mighty good of you to say. Thanks, dear.
Check out "What's Adam West Watching" here, then discuss.