Film

Burt Ward: "I had the greatest time playing Robin"

Septuagenarian superhero Burt Ward – back playing Robin in a new animated Batman film – on why the crime-fighting duo were loved by everybody

Batman and Robin

Batman is back. And I’m not talking about the upcoming Justice League movie where Ben Affleck’s Caped Crusader will have a mood as dark as his cowl (why so serious?) The best incarnation of Batman was and always will be, especially for those who grew up watching the original (or repeats), Adam West’s pompous yet ridiculous, debonair yet camp crimefighter.

But Batman would only be half as dynamic without the other half of the duo: Dick Grayson aka Robin aka actor Burt Ward. Forget method acting, Ward is Robin.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLZQ3OLEJWE

He explains: “When I was hired back in July of 1965 the executive producer, William Dozier, said, ‘Burt, we interviewed 1,100 young actors for this role and we chose you. Would you like to know why?’ I said, ‘Yes sir, I would.’ He said, ‘Because in our mind, if there really was a Robin – I mean for real – you, Burt, would be him. We don’t want you to act, we want you to be yourself.’”

When was the last time he wore tights? “I only wear the costume on two occasions: Halloween when I go trick or treating, and for very private moments with my wife.”

I only wear the costume for Halloween, and very private moments with my wife

Did he wear it this Halloween? “Of course! How can you go trick or treating without a costume?” the now 72-year-old asks incredulously.

Sixties Batman at least seemed aware of the absurdity of it all; a millionaire whose flying rodent-inspired alter ego rounded up supervillains as creepy yet charming as the Joker, Penguin, Catwoman, Mr Freeze, Egghead, King Tut… The rogues’ gallery was full of colourful characters who never stayed behind bars for long.

Batman vs. Two-Face
Batman vs. Two-Face: Adam West and Burt Ward team up for the last time

A brand-new animated film starring Adam West, in his last role, and reliable sidekick Ward, teams them up with another legend of ’60s pop culture – William Shatner as Two-Face. It’s a mind-meltingly amazing coming together of icons, and the film is an affectionate tribute to the spirit of ’60s Batman and a fitting homage to West. A tribute at the end reads, “Rest well Bright Knight,” reminding us that Batmans come in more shades than just humourless black.

“We were great friends,” Ward says about West, who died in June aged 88. “We’ve been together over 50 years, all the wonderful fun times we had, our families got on great. I loved the man and I miss him terribly.”

After half a century of being the Boy Wonder, Ward remains not just a glass-half-full kinda guy, but one whose cup is continuously overflowing. If he has ever had any frustrations being typecast he has long since resolved them.

“Think of it this way,” he says. “You could have a glass that’s full of a whole ton of different projects, or one gigantic spectacular project and other, smaller projects. That’s what I’ve done and I’ve loved every minute of it – I had the greatest time.”

The great times were documented, often in graphic detail, in Ward’s autobiography, My Life in Tights, acclaimed as one of the sleaziest, and therefore most enjoyable, showbiz memoirs, with potent reminisces of his and West’s sexploits along the lines of: “Everyone wanted our Bat Sperm in every orifice”.

What was it about the tights that made them so irresistible to women?

“I think the action and the excitement and the derring-do was attractive to everybody – in different ways,” Ward explains. “Kids loved it; riding the Batmobile, climbing walls, fighting famous villains! For adults, it was the nostalgia of the comic books, for the teenagers and the college kids, when they saw what Adam and I did with the very suggestive double entendres, everybody loved it!”

If enthusiasm was a superpower then Ward is a real-life superhero. He doesn’t end the interview, he gets called away by a sudden crime-fighting emergency.

“Wowee zowie!” he exclaims. “To the Batmobile!”

Batman vs. Two-Face is out now on Digital Download and on Blu-ray and DVD

Support your local Big Issue vendor

If you can’t get to your local vendor every week, subscribing directly to them online is the best way to support your vendor. Your chosen vendor will receive 50% of the profit from each copy and the rest is invested back into our work to create opportunities for people affected by poverty.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
How chicken factory musical Chuck Chuck Baby became a love letter to working-class women
Louise Brealey in Chuck Chuck Baby
Film

How chicken factory musical Chuck Chuck Baby became a love letter to working-class women

Why watching the news can be like watching a horror film – literally
Film

Why watching the news can be like watching a horror film – literally

Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation is an eerie prediction of our surveillance age
Film

Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation is an eerie prediction of our surveillance age

Kinds of Kindness show it's not enough to accept alienation under capitalism – we must love it too
Margaret Qualley, Jesse Plemons and Willem Dafoe in Yorgos Lanthimos' 'Kinds of Kindness'
Film

Kinds of Kindness show it's not enough to accept alienation under capitalism – we must love it too

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know

Support our vendors with a subscription

For each subscription to the magazine, we’ll provide a vendor with a reusable water bottle, making it easier for them to access cold water on hot days.