“Once you see the West, there is no going back.”

The 21st issue of Whitefish Review, “Rising Voices,” features an interview with legendary actor Michael Keaton. While Keaton’s work life requires his presence in Hollywood, much of his real life has been spent on his ranch in Montana for the past 28 years.

Below is an excerpt from an interview that the editorial team — Ryan Friel, Mike Powers and Brian Schott — conducted with Keaton on November 7, 2017 from his home in Los Angeles, and which appears in full in “Rising Voices.”

Mike Powers What makes you hopeful, Michael?

Michael Keaton I ultimately believe that there are decent people around, smart people around, and they’re not all just my friends. I know that’s not the case. And I have a wide, wide, wide variety of friends. And within my own family there are different points of view. I refuse to go down and I refuse to give up. I refuse to be negative. But it is concerning and can be exhausting. That’s why everybody under 40, or really under 30 — the more smart kids out there and the people who care — I think that’s the future. I’m still optimistic. These things are important and you’ve got to fight the good fight.

Ryan Friel True, and that’s part of what we, on a really small scale here at the Whitefish Review, are trying to do, is just inspire, even if it’s just a handful of folks. You’ve have to start somewhere and just keep moving in a positive direction or else or we get mired down.

MK One hundred percent. And you have to keep that sense of humor, too, if you get too pious or serious … You just have to keep laughing.

RF Earlier, I was like, “Well, he probably has a sense that we’re not elitist literature buffs, because we’re just some ski bums and fishermen from Montana.”

MK Hey — that’s not true. I’ve been reading these journals and there is some really beautiful and great writing going on there. Also, how about that — you have a nice venue. What you guys are doing is a little bit like independent film. Among the established writers, there is a venue here for somebody to say, “Hey, I have this little story I want to tell and a place to go do it.” There should be more things like this. I actually think times like this spawn things like the Whitefish Review, don’t you?

RF Yeah, we hope so.

MP I think they have to. Art has to shine over those things.

MK There’s some really good writing going on. Montana has always had this history of literature and people who like to write, and I don’t really know why that is, but it’s always attracted people who want to write. I’ve never understood whether people are shaped by their landscape or if the physical landscape shapes people. I don’t know if it’s necessarily one way or the other but that has a lot to do with things. People are either drawn to a certain feel and connection to how land lays, and therefore it brings certain things out, or vice versa. I don’t think it matters, but I’ve never figured out — or care to — which comes first.

Brian Schott Funny enough, we all grew up near Boston and met each other out here. We all grew up around New England.

MK I worked a few years ago up on the North Shore with Larry David and Bill Hader and those guys on this HBO thing. I used to kick around up around the Cape and out on Nantucket. I used to hitchhike around when I was a kid with my buddies and I had forgotten how beautiful it is up in that country around the North Shore. But, like you guys know, as beautiful and great as that is — I truly do love that part of the world — once you see the West, there is no going back. For a certain personality type, there just is no going back.