Monday, September 14, 2009

In Conversation With Michael Caine

Michael Caine gave a funny, enjoyable two-hour talk chock full of anecdotes about his career, including stories about his friend Cary Grant, how he got cast for some of his roles, and stories from on set and in his life. I can't fully do justice to all his comments, especially his jokes, so I'll settle here for just summarizing a few of them.

  • On his latest film, Harry Brown, Caine said the film in part comes from a desire to highlight the serious problem of drugs and how it is affecting kids on estates. They actually filmed not far from where Caine himself grew up, and he grew to understand the challenges the kids today have trying to find a way out after being largely ignored by the rest of society.
  • Caine is working on the second part of his biography. He joked that the audience should try to get it for half price since we were hearing some of the material.
  • Caine said that for Zulu, he went to a bar to audition, but was told the role of Private Hook had already been cast. Caine was on his way out, and if the bar hadn't been as long as it was, he would've been outside by the time he was called back and asked if he could do a posh accent for the role of Bromhead, given his long blond hair and tall stature.
  • On having to kiss Christopher Reeve in Deathtrap, they both had a bit to drink before filming the scene, but when it came time to do it, they did the kiss and couldn't remember their lines! So they had to sober up, come back, and redo the scene.
  • Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was great fun in part because Caine lived for the summer in the south of France right between two of his best friends; and it's the only film that he's been in that makes him laugh when he rewatches it.
  • When someone asked if he had ever been approached to sing in a film, back when having stars in musicals was quite common, Caine replied that he's not a singer and the only singing he's done on film is with the Muppets (in The Muppet Christmas Carol), and in Little Voice. He told the director of the latter to get two cameras on him, because he knew his voice wouldn't last beyond two takes.
  • Sam Neill made a surprise appearance and asked Caine to comment on acting as a craft. Caine dropped one tidbit of advice that Marlene Dietrich gave him, that if the camera was to the right of the actor you are playing opposite, your right eye should point to his right eye, leaving your left eye for the camera lens. And that to project power, don't blink.
  • A young actor (I believe his name was Graham Gray), asked Caine for advice for aspiring actors. Caine replied he doesn't give advice, because when he was young the main advice he got was to quit. But he did say the one thing he tells actors is never give up if that's what they love. He then related a story of another young actor who asked him the same thing at a party once, and that actor turned out to be Tom Cruise.
  • When asked about working with Christopher Nolan, Caine said it was great and that he is filming another scene for Nolan's latest, Inception, in November. But Caine didn't elaborate on any details, and said in fact Nolan hasn't let him see any of the rest of the script.


My experiences at the Toronto International Film Festival. Note this blog is not affiliated with the Toronto International Film Festival Group or the festival itself.
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