Michael Keaton to Play Ray Kroc in the Story of McDonald’s

By  · Published on January 15th, 2015

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Last week, I gave Michael Keaton a hard time on this site for signing on to a blockbuster like Kong: Skull Island in the wake of his acclaimed comeback in Birdman. Now, on the eve of potentially his first Oscar nomination, Keaton is in the news for a meatier follow-up. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the actor is in talks to play Ray Kroc, the businessman who turned McDonald’s into the king of fast food restaurants and one of the biggest brands in the world. Don’t worry, haters, this is going to be closer to Super Size Me than Mac and Me in its interests. Something darker than the biography you’ll find at the McDonald’s website. THR says the script, by Robert Siegel (writer of The Wrestler and Big Fan but also co-writer of Turbo), is being likened to The Social Network and There Will Be Blood.

“There Will Be Burgers” is officially my new name for it. And the “I drink your milkshake” line is already too perfect – seriously, Kroc was a milkshake mixer salesman when he stumbled into the first McDonald’s drive-in restaurant.

For a hint at why such a biopic would be more negative, think about this: why do we know so much about this Kroc, whose face can be found on plaques at any McDonald’s location, but the chain is called McDonald’s, not Kroc’s? As THR puts it, Kroc “maneuvered himself into a position to be able to pull the company from” Richard and Maurice (aka Dick and Mac) McDonald, the founders of the original Southern California burger spot in the 1950s. I’ve never heard of it being that dirty, and I’m sure the McDonald’s corporation would rather its reputation stay positive. I can’t wait to see what sort of defense they attempt to throw at the project, which at present doesn’t have a major studio or distributor attached. There is a director on board, though: John Lee Hancock, who ironically enough last gave us a positive portrayal of Walt Disney made by Disney with Saving Mr. Banks.

Will this lead to Keaton’s second Oscar nomination? Who cares? The point is that he’s getting better roles thanks to Birdman, and thank goodness for that. To see what Keaton will have to replicate, here’s a video of Kroc from one of many documentaries on the history of McDonald’s found on YouTube:

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.