Behind the mask As Batman in the original television series, West represented an icon whose fame rivalled that of James Bond and The Beatles.
But ever since the mid 1980s, by which time he'd retreated to a farm outside the remote town of Ketchum, Idaho (pop. 3,003) he has become increasingly reluctant to speak to journalists. The process of arranging a meeting with West has taken months and involved the submission of previous interviews, dozens of phone messages and emails. Even though the actor has finally agreed to see me, when I get to Idaho his mobile is switched off, and have to spend two days at a Tyrolean themed motel in Ketchum before I manage to get through to him. He suggests meeting the following morning in a coffee shop, from where we'll drive up to his house. He arrives on time, looking amiable coach outlet foley al but furtive, in a baseball cap and shades; he wears both indoors, even though everybody recognises him as easily as if he'd arrived in cape and cowl, and people in the caf greet him by name. "I sometimes feel tempted," he says, "to renounce my status as a recluse." West orders black coffee and heads for the most isolated corner table. I hand him the latest issue of this magazine, and a copy of my latest novel. He explains that he's unable to take me back to his house: this is because the yard has been flooded, he has people coming to dinner and, "I have to pack." At 76, Batman is a little less muscular than he was, appears slightly deaf and is experiencing back pain, but the resonant baritone is largely unchanged. Highly articulate and immediately engaging, West is a reflective man whose manner suggests both serious intensity of thought, and experience of mental pain. ("He is always thinking and analysing," the actor once said of Batman, "maybe at the expense of his emotional health".) If he can be difficult and he can his behaviour, these coach outlet stores zip days at least, has its origins in diffidence, not vanity. That said, some low part of me assumes that his reticence, and his remark about cannibalism, indicate some unspeakable behaviour in his past. "I am a simple man," he says. "Though my wife says I am complicated." "I'll trust her on that one." "Well, you're probably right. But I am simple in that I no longer feel the need to walk on a red carpet. I am a private person. I don't need a lot of company. And I find it coach outlet factory online coupon code really, really difficult to talk about myself." Ketchum is best known as the place where Ernest Hemingway came to experience silence and tranquillity, an ambience momentarily interrupted on 2 July 1961 when he blew his brains out with both barrels of a 12 gauge shotgun. Today, however, the town serves as a sanctuary for film stars including Tom Hanks and Arnold Schwarzenegger. West suggests moving on to Sun Valley Lodge, where Hemingway wrote much of his later work. Wincing from discomfort in his lumbar region, he hauls himself into his pick up and makes the short drive to the Lodge, now an extensive complex of cafs and luxury cabins. As we walk through the immaculately tended gardens I can see what he finds so attractive here (topiary, sommeliers, swans, etc). And yet, I tell him, I'm surprised he didn't settle in the US stars' most famous mountain retreat Aspen, Colorado. "I got banned from Aspen," West says."Well, you know, we'd been partying and."A pause. All this was some years ago, West recalls. "I was escorted out of town and advised it would be unwise to return. And yet as 15 years' banishment for one evening's excursion might suggest West, as a younger man, was a gregarious character with a global reputation for swift bonding with strangers, especially women. We sit on the terrace of one of Sun Valley's elegant restaurants, and West tells me how, on the strength of his popularity as Batman, he was invited for an audience with Pope Paul VI. He arrived the day before, and went out for a drink. "I woke up the next genuine coach outlet store online morning with the worst hangover of my life," he says. "I made it to the Vatican, and I was at the back of this line of people who each knelt down to kiss his ring. Then it was my turn.
He put out his hand. I realised that, if I knelt down, I wouldn't be able to get up again, I was so hung over." Mindful of the consequences, if he collapsed or vomited on the pontiff, West simply bowed his head slightly and shook the Pope's hand.
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