Sir Michael Caine
This is kick. ASS News I'm Ben Mathis. With over one hundred movies, and two Academy Awards to his credit over six decades, Hollywood legend Michael Cain is one of our best loved actors. He's starred in a huge range of films from the classic movies, Alfie Zulu the Italian job to the Hollywood blockbusting dark knight trilogy, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels Hannah and her sisters and the CIDER house rules. Michael Cain has excelled in every kind of roll with a skill that makes it look easy. He knows what success takes because. Because he's made it to the pinnacle of his profession from humble origins, but as he says small parts can lead to big things, and if you keep doing things, right, the stars will align when you least expect it now. In his eighty fifth year. He wants to share everything. He's learned in his new book, blowing the bloody doors off and other lessons in life and today he joins me over the phone to talk about the book and his remarkable career. Career, he discusses why he never used to believe in taking advice from movie stars his Humble Beginnings in the working class projects of London known as the Elephant Castle and how the nineteen sixties changed everything, and made it cool to be a young cockney in the movies he shares are. We learned disciplined serving in the Korean War and why? It's not just enough to be a good actor as he says you have to make reliability your brand. He talks about coming. Coming out of his self imposed retirement some twenty years ago and says he's getting better parts now than he did when he was a young leading man, and he has no plan to stop anytime soon. Plus why John Wayne Never wore suede shoes John Houston on a directors, most important job doing vegas with Frank Sinatra and the rat pack and Michael Caine on who does the best impression of Michael Caine all that and more coming up in just a moment. Sir Michael Caine has been oscar-nominated six times winning his first Academy Award for the One thousand, nine hundred eighty six film Hannah, and her sisters, and his second in nineteen, Ninety nine for the cider house rules he has starred in over one hundred films, becoming well known for several critically acclaimed performances, including his first major film role in Zulu and nineteen, sixty, four, followed by films, including the hip Chris Files Get Carter Alfie the value job, dirty rotten scoundrels in educating Rita and more recently, the Dark Knight is anybody there in Harry Brown he was appointed a e in nineteen, ninety, two and knighted in two thousand in recognition of his contributions to cinema. He's written. Written a new book titled Blowing the Bloody Doors off and less than life Sir Michael Caine thanks for joining me over the phone from across the pond. Thank Yous, will you now eighty five years old and still going strong still working a lot? In fact, you've done some of your best work in recent years, and now you want to share some of what you've learned with the younger generation. That's something of a shift in your thinking, isn't it? Because you say in here that you never used to believe in taking advice from old movie stars, why not well because the only advice I ever got from? Older actors was give up. You know good enough. Is True and everything and any out director ever said to me was negative, and they said you know Michael You. Know Your your lovely boy, nice boy, and everything and know by looking, but give up. You'RE NOT GONNA make. A lot of producers said that to me. Of when I first started, everybody said that to me. I am. But one of the reasons I wrote the book was that I was watching television one day, and I saw a load of young people being us. What do they wanted? We're going to do in life and everybody said I want to be this. I want to do that. Wanted that then and several of them, said something which struck me. They said they owe said I. Want to be rich and famous. Which I thought was A. A, very, you know not a great idea in life. Because I I became an actor knowing absolutely knowing I would never be ritual famous I would never be that success. I had the thick cockney accent I'd been in the being career I. came out I had malaria after incubation period. You know it takes months for malaria. The about what's home in civilian street where when when the malaria hit me so I was skinny Pale yellow. Company Act said. Not. Movie Star Material. And, so I said out on a career just to be the best that I could possibly be with no reference to anybody else, because if you know I knew that always be actors who were better than me and they'll be active. Who was in me? I just said out. I wanted to put this point across the less of the young people. Just set out to do what you want to do and be the best that you can possibly be acted. And let God take care of the rest. Right because when you came up as an actor in the sixties, no leading men were glasses, but I guess you decided to be the cool guy with glasses. Oh, no, relating totally cut me accent. Eating from working class backgrounds in England was the sixties. where I made my name, and and and that was because of the social revolution that was brought about I mean not by any one person, not even deliberately. It was just a whole group of young people. who had grown up in very strange circumcisers? If you think in terms of my generation, the eldest of us have which are on a bone in in the nineteen thirties. Then we went in when we were six hours six to twelve, I was in the second world when I got eighteen I was sent to Korea to fight. A Chinese me I we this is not a normal upbringing for a young person. And then when we got we, we came home and we were in the fifties, there was still rationing. He couldn't buying anything and in London where all? The people burnt cove for he and so it was massive smoke. And it was a miserable city that there was no places to go nothing to do. And then in the sixties, Khrushchev said we have the atom bomb. You have four minutes to live if we drop it and I without anybody, no group, no leaders, no nothing just on our own thousands of just said well. We got four minutes to live. Let's have a good time. And that's what we did. You start out the book with the advice that where you start out doesn't have to be where you end up and you would know. You grew up as a working class kid from the elephant or the projects as we yanked, would call them and back then England still had something of a rigid caste system. That's it because I was nobody from nowhere. Who knew nothing, but you said when the sixties came along, it was a great time to be a young cockney with ambition. Yeah well, the first thing we got was the most important. Then we got the writers. You know we I, mean we? Nobody had written I? One? One of my first jobs in the theater in London I had studied Peter O'Toole in a playful along the show the toll. which was about British soldiers? Well, that was the first, British, play ever written about private soldiers. Interesting the rest have been about. That's what the Stop the change I in things and Bill Naughton wrote a Alfie working class boy John Osborne wrote a look back in anger about working class Matt. I, the writing came along and made the rest of us. You mentioned a moment ago. Your service in the Korean War you describe it as the worst experience of your life, but also one of the most valuable. Are there things that you learned in the military that have served you well as an actor Oh, yeah? I learned to come conserves That's a gut tests. You know something I've always said. To my children and grandchildren I've said no matter what situation you're in the is bad. Look at it because you can use the difficulty. You know I'd my using the difficulty in in in Korea. Was I got myself into a situation where I thought I was going to die? And I. The main worry was was a coward. And I wasn't and that helped me for the rest of my life, and you can bring things like that. Right up to date I in as much as if you get. If you get oldest thing about producers assaulting actresses, you know in the metoo everything This is a terrible thing terrible. But a good thing of course is come out of it. You use the difficulty. The good that came out of that. was that for fifty years now? No producer will death sexually harassed an actress because he knows you're GonNa be in tomorrow morning, absolutely and speaking of womanisers. You got your first Oscar nomination playing a womanizer Alfie, but you say that. When Alfie came out a lot of people, especially, women confused Michael Cain with the character and assume that you were the skirt-chasing, love them and leave him type, but you're never liked that the way you viewed women was entirely different from the way Alfie treated women Oh. Absolutely. Yeah, Oh, yeah I Thing it started off with my mother. I thought my mother mother was a wonderful woman. Wonderful influence on me. And I fall great agents in my career. And three of them women. To women who run Mike the two people who run my career now. County Howard and Kate A. Both women that's right I. Forgot that you were Tony. Howard she's just great to ask you about coming up in the British cinema in the sixties right in the middle of the whole MoD revolution and for movie goers around the world, and especially here in America, one British film franchise loomed very large in the culture. In those days. I'm of course talking about the James Bond movies. You were close friends with Sean Connery and Roger Moore and you got an early break in your career from Harry Saltzman, the producer of the bond series or Or you ever up for James Bond, or did you ever aspire to be James Bond Oh? No, no, no, no, I I wasn't James Bond. I was more a real person James Bond. It character fabulous character. Obviously, we know but I wasn't I wasn't like that. That's true, but you did kind of get to play the working man's James Bond in the Chris files well. I know showing was working class, but I I was real work you know is Sean was a big guy. I mean he was a big weightlifting. He was missing Edinburgh. Massive mind, but I never never thought of the James Bond in my life, and it was right after the Chris Files and Alfie that you started getting interest from movie studios in the US when you first came to Los Angeles, you arrived just at the tail. End of the Golden Age of Hollywood and you're lucky enough to get to know some of the great screen icons including some who were your personal heroes? who were you most star struck by? I think it was Frank Sinatra. You dated his daughter for a while, didn't you? Yeah well, we we! We didn't date we with friends, you know. There was no love affair or any things that we were just friends and went out together occasionally, but th. That's how I met frank for for for Nancy. Junior e took a shine to me as a person because of my accent, he thought I was very funny. I made him laugh. Laugh a lot. You know what was old. Blue Eyes like. Was He a good guy? Because I've heard stories of how if he was your friend, he was the best guy in the world, but if you got on his bad side, he had this hair trigger. Temper in his mood could just turn on a dime, and he could go from treating you like a brother to being just vicious your. Silence. quickly, you know. A but not would be. He he, he found my accent funny. I just say good morning frank and need start laughing. And I had this. Little relationship with him. I done it, but just with a it took me to Vegas. You know and I had this incredible time with him. It was wonderful. Wonderful. Who are your other favorites from the Golden? Age that you actually got to know you. Know I met Greg Peck. Who was my favorite? Gregory Peck is my favorite actor. I know. Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau and oldies great people. You. Know I had a wonderful time. I I missed several of my favorites. I've I've. Clark Gable was already dead. Have both was already dead? But I did and became funds become friends with cary grant was fabulous. CARY grant is another actor who like you came from British working class background, but then he came to Hollywood and he sort of reinvented himself as this very posh, well dressed Englishman just as if he had been to the manor born Yo. You had to do that in order to make it, you know you had to become partially I. Mean Roger became caught `push reservoir. He was able to the sound of a policeman. You know in Brixton, which is a low clouds work place. Of London. They avoided. This working class, think and the supreme example of that is Richard Button. who very working class. But he too early for the sixties he was on his own, and he was a very poor family. but but instead no one was writing working. Klaus stopped, and he became a classical like just like the rest of them will alleviated. Jump Gielgud and Ralph Richardson. He became a class British actor for for classical Shakespeare and everything. But I mean he did look back in Anger I. You know he did the film and. With the big working class, play, and speaking of Richard Burton you were part of that group of British actors in the sixties who partied hard and drank a lot like Peter, O'Toole and Richard Harris Oh. Yeah, it never affected your career, but a certain point. You're worried about your health and part of the reason you decided to curb. Your drinking was because you had seen what it did to. Richard Burton out. Yeah, Richard Richard destroyed himself with. A lot of them did you know there are a lot of actors who died who run famous, but my friends? Who died of alcoholism there about five of them died of alcoholism along the way. Who could have been famous, but they successful at least famous but. but they all died of alcoholism. And I also want to give credit to your wife, Shakira, who you say probably saved your life by getting you to moderate. You're drinking. That's a good woman Oh. Yes, yeah I I I. Met my wife Ot seven years ago. And I was thinking. I wasn't. Ob Ob Probably on the fringes of alcoholism, I was thinking a lot. but I met her and she stopped it. Well I she didn't stop it. I met her, and she gave me all the reasons. She negated older reasons. I had for drinking I was on my own I was lonely. I was nervous. I was in a very highly competitive business. We were all like that. We're going to take a quick break, and then we'll return with more when we come back in just a moment. You Open the book by recalling some advice you got when you first came to Los Angeles from a real Hollywood legend who started by making a hell of an entrance outside the beverly. Hills hotel where you were staying at the time. story I'm talking about. Could you tell it? Oh, yeah John Wayne. The Duke Yeah John Wayne Well. How what happened is that Shohei? McLean had seen Alfie. And they were looking for a leading man for her new film. And? I don't think they had to budget for the proper star and they chose me. Gambit and I got the Hollywood the Gambit, and they put me in a lovely, sweet and the Beverly Hills, hotel. But then surely was like into Hollywood because the pictures she was doing when. And so I was stocking this beverly hills. Hotel. Luxury suite. For a week without talking to anybody because nobody knew I, was there I didn't know anybody who was there Ida. And so I used to go down in the lobby and look see if I could say any film. Stars and I saw them. And then what? They did John Wayne landed in the helicopter. And I was standing and I was sitting in the lobby. You know because I was jumping blind and I was only very impressed. And he was signing in. He was in his cowboy uniform have been shooting in. Somewhere and he came in helicopters straight from the set. Because it was either the weekend or the end of the movie. I never found out that. But he suddenly saw me and he said to me. What's your name kid? I said Michael Cain. said in that movie Alfie. I, said Jay said I saw that my home said a couple of weeks ago kid. said. You're going to be a big star, so I said Oh. Thank you so. So he said, let me give you some advice. I said okay he said Talk La. Toke slow and does say fuck much. Thank you so. I then then he said, and I suede shoes. and. He said never wished. We choose why. Why No, it's a because as I. Just told you you'RE GONNA. Be a movie star. I'm famous. Said you'll be in the toilet taking a piss. And, a guy will come up next year. Take A. Look and they recognize you're gonNA turn on you and say Michael Cain and he'll piss lovie issues. Good Advice. Ross white shoes again. Now you've also the privilege of working with some very talented directors including Woody Allen Richard, attenborough Brian. DEPALMA, Sidney Lumet Stanley Donen Chris Nolan, and you did two movies with the Great John Huston. Where was he liked to work with? Did he give you much direction? Asia's fabulous at what I said I said in one day, I said, what's the other direction Michael? He said casting. You don't have to do anything else if you have a rest. Thank there's like you and Sean. You know you're pretty private soldiers. That's fine and you and I both been pretty private soldiers, and so that was, he said. Then went on I was working working on the movie and. I was doing this very long speech and I thought I was doing very well and he he shouted cop in the middle of the stopped it. And I didn't know why it stopped it. Why did you stop that? And he just said he gave advice about human beings. He said you can speak fast too Michael. He's an honest man. So I never anyone slowly worry about them. Yeah, that makes sense because a person who's not being honest test to think about what they're saying. What they're gonNA. Say Yeah, yeah, exactly so the Faucet a people speak. He said the the better is and then the other line. He said, which was impressive the we would. He never gave me any direction in one day, I said. Jonah. You'd never give me any direction. He said you get paid a great deal of money to do this. Michael you don't need me. Tell you what to do. And that was it, but I I love to John. WHO said I thought he was really really great director. and you also worked with auto premature. Who I've heard was notorious bully. How did you handle him I? said to him one day, because I knew he was a notorious pulley. I said. please. Don't bully Mesa I. Say because. I very sensitive. Busted the Tis. Run into my especially. Come Out Day. Yeah! He said. My goal, he said. I would never shout at Alfie. laid off. Aches completely laid off. It'd be fade away over the crap. She really got to go pay. I wanted to talk a little bit about your process. You've come to be known for having a certain economy to your acting style. You're not one for big showy gestures or loud performances. Is it hard to control the impulse to go big when you're acting I'd take it easy because you're not playing an actor and you are not acting. You all reveal person and people can see that they're not sitting in the Nodia. Twenty feet away twenty yards away from the stage. The camera is a two feet away from your face, and if you're not a real person, they will see that they don't want to see acting. They WANNA. See Reality. And that's that's what you do in the movie I wonder. Do you think you learned this more economical acting style of yours? As a product of the fact that you grew up looking up to the American film stars like Bogart and Brando as opposed to the more theatrically trained British actors like say a Livia or Gielgud. That's right. Yeah, see I never went to the theater. I went to send them all. Yeah, I know so. Lucky thing from the sixties happened was we all looked up on these Hollywood stars? You know as a great stars like like God's right. There was a certain degree of inaccessibility to movie stars back then, but what happened in the sixties? Rich. People started to look at actors. Who would just like them? And that's how we became stars because. People didn't think we were God's. People thought we were them which we were. Yeah, and you're a method actor, so you're always studying people. Tell Yeah I went to. John Littlewood's theatre in Stratford in England which is a communist theater and Stanislavsky the Russians. And I learned a lot from her, but she also fired me. Why, why because I? I was rehearsing a play. I. said. What do you think you'll doing? Mission to play on normalize. Should now what are you doing? What? Why are you doing this? I said WH- what she said. This is a group theatre Michael. You join a group theatre. We A group. Who What am I doing? She said you'll behaving and acting like a star. And in the end she fired me. She said pissed off the shelf spree avenue, which is where like Broadway you know. I. She said I wasn't a real method actor working with the other actors being star on my own. Like what? I suppose so so I did not signed. It I didn't know what the hell she was talking about. You yourself have a lot of good advice for actors in this book. Blowing the bloody doors off. You tell aspiring actors to make reliability part of your personal brand. You take your work seriously, and you're very deliberate and disciplined about it, and that seems to have served you pretty well in your career Oh. Yeah, Oh, you got to be no the lines you got to know the lines and respect your other actors by way of example. Can you walk us through your daily process on a film shoot? A film show as I learned. My I keep learning my lines route to we should then, but I'm always relaxed on the set away, I get the set relaxed, and then you go into the character just before and stay there just before they say action, your philosophy is the rehearsal is the work in the acting? Is the relaxation shooting shooting? The scene is you're relaxed after doing all that work on rehearsals. you know exactly what you're doing. You know all the lines, and now you can relax and do it and always bring a pencil You've always been an actor who works allowed even after you supposedly retired over twenty years ago. You've still done over forty movies. Why is it as simple as the more movies you do, the better chance you have of getting good ones. I love doing. I Love I love acting. You have to remember. Mature actor I did it just for fun of it I I love doing it. I love movies. I love making movies. you know I? Tied when I was sixty and I go to script from producer. Send it back and said the past two semi. Basically, you're not supposed to read. The lover is supposed to read the father. That Was Sixty and retired and I wrote my autobiography I went to Miami an apartment for the for the winter. And I opened the restaurant, which was very successful, and I just stayed in. Miami and I wrote my autobiography was. The elephant to Hollywood based on the fact I come from a district in London. The elephant also I saw I wrote that I'd retired you know. plenty of money in the bank. restaurant was making money, and I became Jack Nicholson live. Then we became friends, and then one day he came to me with the script, cold blood and wine, and he said you want to go to work again is if it's not the story of say. He was a stall on the fabulous actor I loved him. And he said that wonderful part of it for you and I've got this part, which wasn't the starring role, and that's how I became a character actor in movies. I I gave up. Start them and I mean I'm very up to build high up and all that and then My whole career came. Kademi award for the CIDER House rules I did six movies with with Chris Noland abandoned inception, and all those I did some of the best work of my life after I retired right. In fact, you say you're actually getting better parts now than you did when you were a twentysomething leading man. More about the roles. You're playing today. Yeah, exactly! Yeah, yeah, I'd I've had a wonderful time doing it now. I've I've come to the conclusion. That you don't retire from movies movies retire us so. If they keep sending me scripts on are like why we carefully do I'll do it now that you have a little less time and other priorities in life. Do you find that you're becoming pickier about the roles? You choose all my God. Yeah, yeah I mean I did many movies for the money. You know But much picky now. Well I was very broke when I was young. You know. They'll have a whole family had no money I used to do movies just to make a couple of. I think they said that now. One of your biggest criteria for film is the location if it's somewhere, that's pleasant that your family wants to go like say dirty rotten scoundrels, and that's a big factor in whether you do the. That's a big fight, so yeah, my family and I have three grandchildren. Now they go to comment on. The I only choose I. Except if from prog which I'm shooting in now, my grandchildren. Don't WANNA go there, but everybody else does because that's a great city. That I've been there before. I shot a movie I. Forget what it was, but. About thirty years ago showed a movie there. Was Sort of delighted to read that one of your favorite experiences on a film was dirty, rotten scoundrels because I was a kid, and that was my introduction to you in that came. I watch that? You're on the Riviera I. Mean what could be better than that well also. They rented a house for me because I was down there with my family. I had two daughters at that time. I I the. They rented the house between Roger Moore Leslie Bricusse composer who were two of my closest friends. It was wonderful, wonderful a lot of laughs. You said that you once did a scene with Glenn Headley where you had fifty takes because I'm cracking up and we couldn't. We couldn't stop laughing. Saying died so young. You know a young woman like that of a hot woman with a heart attack, you know. I, always associate how tax with old men and there was this young wonderful woman fabulous actress. I was so upset. Yeah, speaking of older men. I laughed out loud when I read you say that you really don't feel your age at eighty five, but you feel it when you're on a film set and you see your stand in Yeah. You Sally saved itself man. Who say and they said this, you're standing. Okay. That how other people say. Yeah and families, definitely as you said a bigger priority now you've been married to your lovely wife for forty seven years. I'm about to take myself in literally three days Gimme a little advice Michael. How do you keep it going that long several bathrooms? Never share a bathroom. Love. You have any rubbed for anything. Let me, ask you this Michael Do. You think Hollywood is as glamorous today as it was when you first came to town. No, I don't think so what it is. They come for these very big pictures. You know like Star Wars. Know that sort of thing, so you never get a glamorous personal films much any well you do, but the the then not so. So many of them Hollywood was made up of those when I went there. They made the occasional blockbuster. Great big film side fictional something. But now that's all they make. It seems to me well. I've so enjoyed the book and the interview before we go. I just have to ask There are many people who have made quite a thing of doing Michael Caine Impressions. Who Do you think does the Best Michael Cain? Present company excepted of course. Yeah. Yeah I I'm. Well. I? I'd never seen it I. was doing an interview for CNN the other day. They brought on Debbie. Doing clips of people who who did impressions of me I'm stunned by the impression dumbo Tom Hanks. Live aid did it on Saturday night live. You know he's got to do. The accent needs an American. You know dummy easy. I and so I I love Tom Hanks is an actor anyway, so he's my favorite. Well, tell me how I'm doing here. Elo Name is Michael C That's a terrible one never mind. I did a better one earlier, but. Never mind well. Once more Sir Michael Gains. Book is called blowing the doors off and other lessons in life Sir Michael Caine. This has been fun. Thanks so much for the chat. Thanks so much has been fun for me to thank you bye-bye. Thanks again to serve Michael Caine for coming on the podcast order his book blowing the bloody doors off and other lessons in life on Amazon audible, or wherever books are sold and follow him on twitter at the Michael Caine. If you enjoyed today's podcast. Be Sure to subscribe to us on Apple podcasts and Raden. Review us while you're there. Five star ratings in detailed reviews or one of the best ways for new listeners to discover the show you can also follow us on facebook or on twitter at at kick, Ass News Pod, and recommend us to your friends on your social media for more fun stuff, visit, Kick Ass News Dot Com, and I welcome your comments, questions and suggestions at comments at kick ASS News Dot Com for now I'm Ben Mathis and thanks for listening to kick ASS news.