Hey everyone, it’s M.L. Miller aka Ambush Bug from AICN COMICS and AICN HORROR with some devastating news about the passing of one of my childhood heroes Adam West. To me and many Bat-fans, he was the first and best Batman. I don’t usually do these tributes and I’m sure a more in depth look at Mr. West’s life and his long list of work will be posted by one of the other guys here at AICN. But I actually had an opportunity to interview Mr. West at Comic Con in San Diego waaay back in 2011 and I will cherish that interview forever. I still have the audio for the conversation we had where we sat down for lunch and chatted for almost an hour about everything I could think of in my star struck mind about his life, his work, and of course, all things Batman. It was one of the few times I was nervous going into an interview because as far back as I remember, I was watching reruns of him as the Caped Crusader and those memories were so precious to me. Below is that interview…
Ambush Bug talks with the only Caped Crusader that matters, Adam West!!!
Ambush Bug here with another interview I conducted at the San Diego Comic Con. I usually keep my composure during these interviews, but I have to admit I damn near had pups when I found out I’d be sharing a lunch with Adam West at this year’s San Diego Comic Con. Mr. West was getting ready for his panel for the Hub which reunited the actor with his BATMAN co-stars Julie Newmar and Burt Ward. I started taping just as Mr. West was ordering his meal and for some odd reason, capturing Adam West ordering and discussing the deliciousness of clam chowder is a Comic Con memory I’ll never forget. Here’s one of my favorite interviews of the con.
ADAM WEST (AW): Do you have clam chowder today?
[The waiter says they do.]
AW: You do? Oh boy. I’m going to have that. I’m going to have clam chowder.
AMBUSH BUG (BUG): Great.
AW: (To his woman who I assumed was his wife sitting at the table with us) And maybe I’ll share a sandwich if you would like.
BUG: So I’m sitting here at the Mayor’s table with someone who plays a mayor on TV, Adam West. It’s an honor to meet you, sir.
AW: Thank you.
BUG: I’m sure you hear this a lot and I hope it’s not offensive to say, but I’ve seen your face since I was a very, very small child. What’s it like being greeted like that? At this Con, I’m sure…have you been over there yet?
AW: Yes, I was there briefly a half an hour ago and it’s sheer madness. It’s good. It’s very good, because I’m able to come in and see…
[Some one interrupts the interview to introduce someone.]
AW: (To the individual) Your timing is so bad. I was in the middle of an interview! (laughs) Okay, where did we end?
BUG: You were saying the Con was madness. So you said it was pretty crazy over there?
AW: Well it’s crazy in a sense in that it’s so amazingly crowded and there are so many different aspects of it with all of the panels and the Q&A’s and people from all walks of the entertainment world and I like it, because these are the people who are ones who are the deciders. In a sense they are the editors of pop culture and they are certainly the ones who have kept me working and known for 45 years. Even our older BATMAN show is now on the Hub Network and strangely enough a new group called Aqua Bats is another show that they are doing and that’s sort of up to the moment rock and I may be involved in that, but yeah I just do a lot of stuff.
BUG: Yeah, you seem very busy.
AW: FAMILY GUY has been wonderful with Seth Macfarlane and the gang. So I think that anything I can do that expands my fanbase, you know it’s not stupid to do.
BUG: Seems like it’s hard work.
AW: It is, but I sort of thrive on that you know.
BUG: So as far as the Con goes, I’m sure this isn’t your first convention out here. How many times have you been out to the San Diego Con?
AW: The San Diego Comic Con I’ve done only…this is the second time.
BUG: Oh really?
AW: Yeah, the time before my family acquired a booth so that they could introduce my new DVD, ADAM WEST NAKED. I don’t know whether you have seen it, but it’s disgusting.
AW: No, I reveal all that anyone ever wanted to know about 120 episodes of BATMAN privately to the camera in the basement. So we had a booth and then I did a signing and a Q&A and I find that when I do these comic cons and especially here the Q&A’s are amazing, because I make it sort of a personal challenge to always keep my answers in conversation somewhat fresh otherwise I get bored and you know…I’m sure the audience does, too. But it is a challenge and I’m telling you to be here in San Diego in this kind of environment and weather and whatever with all of these wonderful crazy enthusiastic fans…I mean, this is a real fix for an actor, I guess.
BUG: So you are going to be going on the Hub panel? Have you gone to that yet or are you about to?
AW: No, I’m going to this evening, yeah. Yeah, that’s this evening and then we do another large press conference and that’s about it and tomorrow I have stuff for Fox and FAMILY GUY.
BUG: So let’s talk about FAMILY GUY a little bit. How is that going? Just working with Seth, what’s that like?
AW: Well it’s a piece of cake. Seth and I share the same kind of absurdities and comic sensibilities and I love the show. I mean there are moments of course when I suppose I freeze inside when I don’t want to say something especially, but then I think it’s the actor’s responsibility. If you created a character and if it’s written well and you are able to change a few things from time to time, but to be able to pull it off and that’s what the challenge is with FAMILY GUY.
BUG: Originally, was it supposed to be a reoccurring character or was this just when you first started with FAMILY GUY?
AW: It was reoccurring and Seth and somebody else had written a pilot for me and we got along great, so when he called I asked him what he was doing and he told me and I said, “Yes, I want to be a part of this,” because I have an appreciation I think for the theater for the absurd and the ironies in life and, you know, it gives you are chance to laugh along at yourself.
BUG: It’s great. You have this distinct voice where all you have to do is say a little bit of anything and it’s recognizable. You know it’s Adam West there.
AW: Yeah, it makes it a little easier I guess. I can’t get away with anything, but when you take those more absurd or quirkier parts of your own personality and magnify them as the mayor it becomes kind of fun and I don’t mind being self deprecating, I think that’s part of maybe one of the keys to the longevity of a career. You know, don’t take yourself too seriously for God’s sakes.
BUG: That’s great. Well, let’s talk about BATMAN. I’m sure you’ve talked about BATMAN to so many different people in one way or another, but does it ever get tired going back to those years from the BATMAN series?
AW: It doesn’t.
BUG: Oh good.
AW: Because I think over the years I’ve come to a conclusion. I’ve made it a personal challenge to always try to keep things fresh and maybe give fresher or different slants or something new, a twist, to whatever the question and answer might be, so you know which I’m doing with you, Mark, I’m trying not to be so mundane and per usual, you know. Your questions are good.
BUG: Thanks! Going through the BATMAN series, it was such a wild series, you had all sorts of different things going on through the seasons. I’ve seen them all. I saw them as a kid. I’ve rewatched them as an adult. Every time I see it on television…I just saw the BATMAN movie again just a few days ago.
AW: But you turned out okay, didn’t you?
BUG: Semi-okay. (laughs)
AW: I’m responsible for that!
BUG: I definitely think you are partially responsible for whatever it is I became now.
AW: Oh, I keep hearing that, you know, and it’s somewhat humbling.
BUG: So I’m sure you’ve seen the other actors play Batman in the more modern films; what do you think of the newer versions of the character?
AW: That’s a good a question. First of all let me just say that I’m not a critic. I really don’t have too much to say about it, because I haven’t seen them all. I’ve seen bits and pieces, but from what I’ve seen you know they are beautifully produced and wonderfully put together with great talent and a lot of money and so on and it is after all “The Dark Knight”, and what we did made me kind of “The Bright Knight”, you know, it was tongue in cheek and kind of fun, an homage to the comic book.
BUG: Yeah, but the thing is just rewatching it there are some darker moments in there and the character is a dark character, but I think you walked that line very well during the series, because even though there are some goofy concepts you were playing it pretty straight the whole time.
AW: Mark, it’s not an easy line to walk, but they paid me well, okay? (laughs)
BUG: So how did you get the role in the first place? How did that happen?
AW: Well I didn’t find out really until about a year later after we started and the studio and the producers at Greenway with the late Bill Dozer who was our Exec Producer, a brilliant guy…I loved this man. Anyway, they had seen a commercial that I had done for Nestle’s Quik, in which I played kind of a spoof on James Bond and they said, “that’s the turkey who could do Batman.” So they called us out. I had just finished a movie in Europe and they called us out. I read that pilot script and I said “I’m headed back to Europe unless you sign me today, now, because I want to do this show.”
BUG: That’s great.
AW: I saw something in that script that I thought was hilarious and yet great for kids.
BUG: So do you have a favorite episode yourself of the series?
AW: Well, I think my favorite episode is probably the first one when everything was kind of gelling and we all got married to the same concept and way of handling it and when they stopped sending me memos that I wasn’t doing the right thing and they said “Hey, wait a minute, don’t bother him anymore. This guy’s funny.” So I think that it’s probably my favorite and Frank Gorshin as Riddler was always maniacally brilliant and fun to play off of.
BUG: So what about the comics? Were you able to do much research from the comics going into it or did you know of the character beforehand?
AW: That was a matter I think of sense memory in that as a kid I had read Batman comic books and I just stumbled on them when I lived on a farm in an old shack and I got a chance to read them never dreaming that someday I would be that guy, but I started to play Batman as a kid, so 35 years later or whatever it was you know that sense memory came, so I would pull on the cowl and say “Hey, let’s go play Batman. You be Robin, I’ll be Batman”, and it works. You know, you get that childlike thing going with the character.
BUG: That’s great. So what’s it like…you are going to be coming together with some other people from the show, Burt Ward…who else is going to be there on the panel?
AW: Julie Newmar, who was our first Catwoman.
BUG: Have you guys stayed in touch through the years?
AW: A little. You know, we do occasional signings at comic cons together and that’s about it. You know, we’ve all gone our separate ways and our separate enterprises and lifestyles. Julie is just a great girl and Burt is such a funny guy. It’s just when we get together that kind of chemistry or magic comes immediately back like that.
BUG: That’s what I was going to ask. Does it take you back to all of that time ago, to those days?
AW: Yeah, it really does. Here we will be sitting there together as three curiosities. (laughs)
BUG: Well, I don’t want to take up too much of your time.
AW: Let’s just wrap it up and we’ll have lunch.
BUG: Okay, so you have any messages to your fans? Any last Bat messages at the end there for the audience at Ain’t It Cool News? They are full of people who grew up with you just like myself.
AW: Well yeah, I guess Ain’t It Cool, you know you should take a look at my shoes, my wife said they are really cool.
BUG: They are? Yes, they are cool. Those are some fantastic shoes.
BUG: One last question, I wanted to ask you about THE MISADVENTURES OF ADAM WEST. What can you tell me about this book?
AW: You know, it’s amazing to me and it’s some kind of irony I guess that it’s really come full circle. Now here’s a guy that used to read, again he used to read the Batman comic books and now as I look at this thing on the table in front of you THE MISADVENTURES OF ADAM WEST, my God I have my own comic book. It’s really come full circle and they have done a terrific job with this.
BUG: That’s great. Well thank you so much for sitting here and talking with me today. I don’t want to interrupt your lunch any further, but have a great con and it was a pleasure talking to you.
AW: Thanks, Mark.
BUG: Thanks a lot. It’s a real honor to meet you.
AW: You made it so easy.
BUG: Good. (laughs)
Check out Adam West in his own comic THE MISADVENTURES OF ADAM WEST from Bluewater Comics, as Mayor Adam West on FAMILY GUY, and the BATMAN series can be seen on the Hub!
I’ll remember this interview always as one of my favorites. My thoughts and prayers go out to the West family. Rest in Peace, Old Chum…