‘The only real Catwoman’—that time Sean Young really, really wanted to play Catwoman in Batman Returns

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In 1991, dressed in a slinky vinyl outfit and Catwoman mask, Sean Young went on The Joan Rivers Show.

The Blade Runner actress was lobbying HARD for the role of Catwoman in Batman Returns (at the time simply known as Batman 2), the sequel to the mega-successful 1989 Batman movie. Tim Burton was returning to direct, but he apparently refused to grant Young an audition, so Young flew out from Arizona on a private jet and went to Warners’ Burbank studio to confront the director.

They didn’t connect, but apparently Young tracked down Michael Keaton (Keaton played Batman in the two Burton-directed movies).

In an interview with PrimeTime Live in June of 1992, while promoting Batman Returns, the actor recalled Young interrupting a meeting he was having with a studio head (this might have been Mark Canton, who according to Young had promised her a meeting with Burton). Keaton says that the actress had a walkie-talkie, which she used to communicate with someone else on the lot about the director’s possible whereabouts.

Keaton says, “Every once in while she’d say, ‘I can’t believe–of all the people in the world–I am Catwoman!’ Then you’d hear things like, ‘[Crackling sound] ‘I think I’m going to go down to the commissary, Sean [crackling sound]’ and she’d go, ‘[crackling sound] Hold on a minute, over.’ It was unbelievable.”

In the interview with Rivers, Young confirms that she had indeed tried to track down Burton, with walkie-talkie in hand. “But I always have walkie-talkies,” she says.

The actress, still at the time best known for Blade Runner, had almost played Vicki Vale in the first movie, but the role had gone to Kim Basinger after Young broke her arm in a horseback riding accident prior to filming. She had been practicing for a scene in the movie that eventually was cut.

At the top of the segment on the Rivers show, in character as Catwoman, Young addresses Burton, recalling that she “even jumped up on a horse I was scared to death of because you [points at camera] asked me to! And when I had an accident and fractured my shoulder from falling off that horse, you didn’t even send me a get-well message.”

She also calls him “rude” for ignoring her, calls him “Timmy” and says, “How dare you not return the Catwoman’s phone calls!”

In the interview segment, the actress tells Rivers, “As you know, the first Batman wasn’t acclaimed as a fine movie,” at which point she looks at the camera and makes an hilarious face, at around the 10-minute mark, then adds “… but it made a lot of money.”

Sean Young as Catwoman on the Joan Rivers show

Sean Young: “As you know, the first Batman wasn’t acclaimed as a fine movie…”

She also says: “This is a karma part for me. It’s not because it’s a fine role.”

If you have the time, Rivers’ interview with Young is fascinating stuff, especially at the end when the host brings out a therapist to tell Young she’s all right.

Trekkie alert: Young also mentions a fantasy of being stuck in an elevator with Captain Kirk.

And here’s a clip that Young uploaded on YouTube herself:

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