From ‘Batman’ to ‘Family Guy,’ Adam West relishes his roles

By John Benson

The actor says he is the luckiest guy in the world.

With a name that sounds as imposing as, say, Bruce Wayne, Adam West remains indelibly etched in our minds as the Dark Knight in the campy ’60s “Batman” television show.

Having recently turned 80, West is still going strong with plenty of voice-over work, most noticeably on Fox-TV’s animated “Family Guy” series as Mayor Adam West.

In a phone interview with The Vindicator from his Idaho home, West (born William West Anderson) talked about his storied career, the secret to his longevity and his upcoming visit to the Youngstown area — his first — where he will appear at the Screaming Tiki Comic Book and Pop Culture Convention.

Q. Even if you weren’t still popular based on “Batman,” it appears as though “Family Guy” has introduced you to another audience. What’s your secret?

A. I’m a little like Madonna, I keep reinventing myself. I’ve got a little different audience with “Family Guy.” So my fan base is really broadened. I’m the luckiest guy in the world. I’ve been doing this for 40 years. You know, 80 is the new middle age.

Q. It’s safe to say comic book fans throughout Northeast Ohio are excited about your upcoming visit.

A. I’m looking forward to it, too, because Ohio is critical in this election, and if I have to be mayor of Quahog, I’ve got to start campaigning there. So yeah, go out and vote.

Q. It’s been exactly 40 years since “Batman” went off the air, yet you’re still recognized around the world as the caped crusader. Any regrets about taking the role?

A. Not really. There was a time for two or three years that I was really typecast. It was a battle, that old yellow dog would bite your leg at three in the morning and you’d be full of anxieties ... “I’ll never work again.” But that passed after I realized that if I really made sincere friends with (the character of) Batman and what we’ve done, that it could be very good. And how many actors get a chance to create a signature role that goes on and on in pop culture? Not many. I’m very lucky.

Q. You could actually argue your “Family Guy” appearances have created yet another signature role, which actually appears to make fun of your personality. It must be sort of odd playing a character that is mocking your real life persona.

A. I don’t mind making fun of my situation, I don’t mind it at all. The tough thing is, it’s like walking a tight wire like The Great Wallendas above Times Square. You really have to do the comedy and still preserve your dignity. Nothing is funnier to people than seeing somebody who is trying to be dignified. It’s like a Cary Grant tripping over a chair and still maintaining his dignity somehow. It’s kind of that way with “Family Guy.”

Q. Finally, while some would envy your career associated with “Batman,” is there anything negative about attending the meet-and-greet signing events?

A. The only thing that could be considered negative is that if the lines are so long, I don’t want to disappoint anyone so I stay. And sometimes it’s a little wearing but that goes with the game. It ain’t no big thing.

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