Michael Caine is 79 years old.
And he doesn’t mind you knowing that.
In fact, the veteran actor’s age is his go-to excuse for, well, anything – like the names of the name of the film his “Dark Knight Rises” director Christopher Nolan directed that he loved so much.
The always cordial and ostensibly cheery British actor reunites with Nolan, his director on “The Prestige”, “Inception”, and the two Batman blockbusters (“Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight”, for the highly-anticipated bookend to Billionaire Playboy Bruce Wayne’s pointy-eared days in “Dark Knight Rises”.
As glad as he is to be back playing Butler Alfred, Caine says he could’ve easily have knocked back the superhero trilogy – based on the title alone. Thankfully, he made it past the script’s cover page.
“I was at home one Sunday morning about nine years ago and there was a knock on the door. And there was Chris standing there”, explains Caine. “I recognized him as the man who had directed two films that I loved, Memento and…
Caine stops, frozen, stuck on the title of the Nolan film.
“Oh yes, Insomnia”.
“So I had been given this script, and immediately I thought ‘‘Oh, this is going be a lovely little thriller we’re going to do!’”
Nolan was invited in, with his script, and within minutes had the legendary star of such classics as “Hannah and her Sisters” and “Get Carter” scratching his head.
“I said ‘What’s the name of the movie?’ And he said ‘Batman Begins.’”, laughs, Caine. “‘Batman Begins’? I said, ‘Batman?’ I thought ‘Bloody hell! He’s planning to do some great big movie!’ And I thought, ‘I’m too old play Batman, I wonder who he wants me to be?’ I knew it wasn’t Catwoman! And he said, ‘The butler.’
I thought, ‘I don’t know whether I want to say, ‘Dinner is served, would you like another bowl of soup?’ So he gave me the script and I said, ‘I’ll read it and give you a ring tomorrow.’ And he said — Chris is very, very secretive — and he said, ‘No, I want you to read it now and I’ll be taking it with me.’ So he had a cup of tea with me missus while I read it.”
By the end of the script, Caine was speechless – and believe me, that’s truly something for someone who loves to chat.
“I said, ‘Yes, I’ll do it.!’ I was stunned by the writing, because it was a relationship — it wasn’t just like cipher characters that you normally get in these big special effect stunt movies. They were real, REAL people, and the script was written like a drama. And I said yes, and I’ve never regretted it for one moment.”
Caine, who reportedly delivers some of his finest work in recent years in “Dark Knight Rises”, says he’ll be reuniting with Nolan for another film shortly. Clearly, the British filmmaker takes no offense to the actor’s inability to recollect the names of his cinematic classics.
“The Dark Knight Rises” opens July 19