by Sheila Roberts
caught up today with Sir Michael Caine while he was promotinghis new
film, “Is Anybody There” in Los Angeles and asked him if Chris Nolan
had talked to him aboutreprising his role as Alfred in the next Batman -which
isrumored to be in the works for a summer 2010 start.
big thing he said was that he thinks The Riddler is going to be the villain in
the film. While that’s not confirmed, as we all know, anything Batman related
is big news.
also chatted with us about what his friend and co-star, Heath Ledger’s Academy
Award win for Best
in Dark Knight meant to him as well as his surprise at Christian Bale dropping
the f-bomb on the Terminator Salvation set last summer. Here’s what he had to
Your character is a retired magician. Have you ever thought about retiring?
MC: In life? No,
because I think films retire you — sometimes, if you’re unfortunate, after
your first film. This is about my 101st film. See, what happens is
you say, “I’m going to retire,” and then David Heyman turns up and gives you
this script so you’re not retiring. “Well do this one.” And they just did it
again. I didn’t work for 15 months after this picture. This was quite a long time
ago. They saved it. They wanted it to come out this April. Then I just did a
picture called Harry Brown in which I played a lead which is unusual for
someone my age. You’re usually a character like I am in Batman. You know, I’m
the butler, I’m not Batman. (Laughs) So, these things turn up and you just
can’t refuse them. I mean, I don’t have my next movie. I’m not looking for one.
Someone may give me a script possibly and I will work again. If someone doesn’t
give me a script I want to do, I’m retired, but there won’t be some great
announcement or fanfare or trumpets. I just won’t do anything. I’ll stay at
home and do what I do there which is cooking, gardening and writing and
You talk about when Hollywood chooses to retire an actor, why do you think it
hasn’t retired you?
MC: I have no idea.
You don’t know when your time is up so to speak. There just goes a period of
time when the right scripts don’t arrive. And it hasn’t happened to me yet. It
might have happened now. I finished this last picture, as I said. I don’t have
another picture to do. If a script doesn’t come, then I won’t do anything and
I’ll be retired. There won’t be any announcement or anything. I remember
MacArthur saying “Old soldiers don’t die. They fade away.” Well, old actors
don’t die. They fade away.
Are you not expecting there to be a third Batman?
Christopher is doing a picture called Inception with Leonardo DiCaprio which I
saw on the Internet. So I imagine another Batman is quite a long way away.
What kinds of films and roles are you drawn to at this point in your career? Is
it smaller films?
MC: It’s just the
writing. Like Dark Knight, I chose a long time ago with Batman Begins but that
was because of Christopher Nolan. But also, on this film, this John Crowley who
is a brilliant young Irish director that I saw two small films that he did and
I loved them. And then on Harry Brown, there’s a young English director called
Daniel Barber and I saw a small film that he did. He actually got nominated for
an Academy Award for that film and I forget the bloody title (The Tonto Woman).
I like working with younger directors as I’m going to do these small films. A
young director can get a chance in a small, cheap film. He can’t get a chance
in a big one.
Weren’t you signed for 3 Batmans?
MC: Yes, if they do
another one, I’ll probably be the butler. I hope I’m still alive. Michael Goth,
who played Batman before me, the last time he played in Batman he was 84.
Didn’t Christopher Nolan do this the last time also? He wanted to make another
film in between?
MC: He did. I was
in that too. The Prestige. (Laughs) Christopher doesn’t make pictures without
Do you think he’ll come around to doing a third one?
MC: I would imagine
so. That would be probably The Riddler.
What did Heath Ledger’s victory at the Oscars mean to you in terms of his
MC: I thought it
was very important for his family as well.
I was a big fan of his from the first time I met him. I’d never met him
before. I met him on the set where he invades the party we’re having. I’m
standing in front of the lift and I’m expected to greet people and there’s all
these gangs behind him and he came in. But, before that, I’d met him obviously
on the set and we were chatting. He had this make-up on and I was saying how
fantastic I thought it was. We were just chatting quietly and then they said,
“We’re ready to shoot.” And I had never seen the performance. We were just
talking, you know. And then he came out the elevator and I was absolutely
stunned by the way he did it and the energy that went into it. And then when I
saw the movie, there’s an opening monologue and a closing monologue that he
does which I felt if anybody’s going to better that and get an Academy Award
above him, I would pay good money to see that and nobody did beat him. I’m so
That will be a tough act to follow for anyone who plays the Riddler though?
MC: Yeah, I thought
it would be a tough act to follow for anybody who played against The Joker
after Jack Nicholson. (Laughs) You know what I’m saying? Heath is The Joker.
Since your producer on this does the Harry Potter movies, is there any chance
of you showing up in 6 or 7?
MC: Yeah, David
Heyman. Me? No, I think I would have been there before if they’d wanted me. I
that think they’re all set in their ways and that David and I have this little
section. We do the little ones. I hope he gets another script like this. I
mean, not like this, but this type of thing.
You’ve done 3 films with Christian Bale and he caught some attention for…
MC: Yeah, that
stunned me, that did, because he’s not like that at all. I mean, I’m more like
that than he is. You’re liable to get a volley off of me if you walk around
during my takes. I would never imagine Christian doing that. It’s completely
out of character. I was stunned when I saw it on the news.
Is it fairly business as usual on a movie set, whether it’s Christian or not,
and something like that just happens and everyone gets over it?
MC: Oh sure. I lost
my temper on a movie years ago when I was doing a movie called The Last Valley.
James Clavell was the director. I’m not a very good horseman and they put me on
this horse that they knew was a killer and it ran away with me for two miles
and I brought it back at a slow pace and then I got off and all the unit were
laughing and then I started and I outdid Christian by about 30 minutes with
more language than he knew. So James Clavell broke the crew for an hour and he
said, “Let’s have a cup of tea.” And so we went and had a cup of tea. James
Clavell was captured in Hong Kong when he was 14 by the Japanese and spent the
first part of his life in a Japanese prison camp. He said to me, “The way I
survived was I became a Japanese in mentality. So I knew where they were coming
from in their treatment of us and I knew where I should be in everything.” He
said, “The one thing that the Japanese never do is they never lose their temper
because anger is an emotion that you should never show to strangers because you
expose too much of yourself.” He said, “You must never expose yourself like
that to strangers.” And he gave me this long lecture on the Japanese and anger
and I have never lost my temper on a set since. I go home and I scream at the
kids. (Laughs) But I have never lost my temper on a set since.
Have you reached out to Christian?
MC: I haven’t seen
him since. No. When I speak to him, I’m going to say, “What the fuck are you
Are there any summer you’re looking forward to seeing?
MC: Any summer
movies? I don’t know what they are. I’ve just come from Surrey in England. We
don’t get a lot of Hollywood news out there. We don’t know what’s coming. There
is one though. There is one that I read about that I’d like. I want to see the
one with Christian! Terminator! Yeah! I saw a trailer for that.