Michael Caine Poster

Quotes (102)

  • [in 1967] I've never been out with a married woman, never. I respect others' properties.
  • My name is Michael Caine.
  • [on Jaws: The Revenge (1987)] I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific.
  • I am in so many movies that are on TV at 2:00 a.m. that people think I am dead.
  • I used to get the girl; now I get the part. In The Quiet American (2002) you may have noticed I got the part and the girl. It's a milestone for me, because it's the last time I'm going to get the girl. I'm sure of it, now I'm nearly seventy.
  • Movie acting is about covering the machinery. Stage acting is about exposing the machinery. In cinema, you should think the actor is playing himself, if he's that good. It looks very easy. It should. But it's not, I assure you. To disappear your complete self into a character is quite difficult. I've tried it 85 times, and I've succeeded two or three times.
  • The best research [for playing a drunk] is being a British actor for 20 years.
  • First of all, I choose the great roles, and if none of these come, I choose the mediocre ones, and if they don't come, I choose the ones that pay the rent.
  • The difference between a movie star and a movie actor is this--a movie star will say, "How can I change the script to suit me?" and a movie actor will say. "How can I change me to suit the script?"
  • Be like a duck, my mother used to tell me. Remain calm on the surface and paddle like hell underneath.
  • [on doing the Texan accent for Secondhand Lions (2003)] I had a great dialect coach and he told me there's always one moment when you get something. He said, "Do your Texan accent for me," when I had learned it from a tape. He said, "It's too English!". I said, "Why?". He said, "Each word stands up like soldiers standing to attention next to each other. The way they talk in Texas, they're so lazy they sort of lean on each word". And I could just picture all these words leaning over each other, and that's when I got it.
  • [In reference to the Oscar Family Album Tribute sequence at The 70th Annual Academy Awards (1998) and speaking live on British television following the Oscar ceremony in 1998] I was sat up there with the likes of Claire Trevor and Luise Rainer. It means a lot to me, it was amazing, they are living legends!
  • My view is that you should always do remakes of failures. Then you've got nowhere to go but up, you know? They can't say, "Well, it's not as good as the original, you made a piece of crap". They'd just say, "What a piece of crap that was," anyway.
  • It's terrible. Every six weeks it's Christmas. In Catch-22 (1970), the hero says, "Time is going by so fast, I have to make my life more boring." That's what I've got to do, because my life is so interesting and I enjoy myself so much, I've got to make it more tedious, because I'll be 100 in a minute. My mother died when she was 90, so I've got just under 20 years left. The terrible thing is that in obituaries, you read, "He died at 74, he had a good life." You think, "Bloody hell, I've only got 18 months to go". And another strange thing about aging - as you get older, it gets faster, and you see people you haven't seen in what you think is five years, but it turns out to be 25 years. You say, "I made that film ten years ago," and they correct me: "Thirty, Michael. Thirty".
  • My most useful acting tip came from my pal John Wayne. Talk low, talk slow, and don't say too much.
  • I did Harold Pinter's first play, "The Room". Harold was an actor named David Baron. He said, "I'm going to write". I said, "Oh yeah, it'll be nice". He said, "But I don't want to get mixed up with being an actor. I'm going to write with my real name". I said, "What's your real name, David?" He said, "Harold Pinter".
  • Whenever anyone asks me to do something about my life's work, I keep saying, "Please, I haven't finished yet. Can you give me another year?" . . . In a lifetime achievement award, you just have to watch yourself grow old in 45 minutes.
  • [on Alfie (1966)] To be a movie star, you have to carry a movie. And to carry a movie where you play the title role is the supreme example. The third thing, for a British actor, is to do it in America. The fourth is to get nominated for an award. That picture did all four things for me.
  • [on Richard Gere] He's got a pin-up image, which he hates. The only trouble is this: whenever they ask him to take his trousers off, he does.
  • Such is an actor's life. We must ride the waves of every film, barfing occasionally, yet maintain our dignity, even as the bulk of our Herculean efforts are keel-hauled before our very eyes.
  • You get paid the same for a bad film as you do for a good one.
  • I'll always be around because I'm a skilled professional actor. Whether or not I've any talent is beside the point.
  • In England I was a Cockney actor. In America, I was an actor.
  • I'm the original bourgeois nightmare - a Cockney with intelligence and a million dollars.
  • Don't remake a successful picture, because you're liable to be the flop. Steve Martin and I made a much better picture of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988) than Marlon Brando and David Niven did. What I wouldn't do anymore is play any guest shots. I've given that up. I did it as some fun and it backfired in Get Carter (2000) so I'm not doing it again. Now I hear that they're going to remake The Italian Job (1969) with me in the Noël Coward part. I'd consider it, yes.
  • I'm a sort of boy next door. If that boy has a good scriptwriter.
  • [about remakes of his classic films such as Get Carter (1971) and The Italian Job (1969)] I wish they would remake the BAD ones!
  • I've made an awful lot of films. In fact, I've made a lot of awful films.
  • [on Heath Ledger's performance as The Joker] The worry going in was The Joker. Jack Nicholson was the greatest Joker so, you know, how do you top that? Well, Heath Ledger's done it and he's extraordinary. He's gone in a completely different direction to Jack. Jack was like a clown figure, benign but wicked, maybe a killer old uncle. He could be funny and make you laugh. Heath is like a really scary psychopath. I did one scene with him and he was ready to go and had to come up in a lift and raid our place. I didn't see him for rehearsal and when he came out of the lift he was so incredible I forgot my lines. He frightened the life out of me. I'd never met him before. He's a lovely guy and his Joker is going to be a hell of a revelation in this picture.
  • Educating Rita (1983) was wonderful, I did it with Julie Walters, the original girl. She is sensational, really fantastic, and she is a very nice person as well, which is always a bonus.
  • [on Otto Preminger] O.P. is only happy if everybody else is miserable. Still, if you can keep his paranoia from beating you down, you can learn a lot from the guy.
  • [on Ray Milland] A nice old bloke.
  • I love HD. Of course, it's very unforgiving, especially on young beautiful ladies, but thank God I'm old, I don't care.
  • Do I believe in God? Yes I do. When you've had a life like mine, you have to.
  • While shooting Harry Brown (2009): The young guys I met there were fascinated by my success. They asked how I got out of there. I told them the truth - I had a happy family. My mum and dad were together all the time. I won a scholarship to grammar school. And there was drink, but not drugs.
  • [on some of his mid-career flops] I did a couple of pictures which were absolutely dreadful - one was Blue Ice (1992), and another with Olivier, where I played a spy based on Philby [The Jigsaw Man (1983).] I thought there was no need to put myself through it. I had enough money. I opened eight restaurants, goofed around in Miami, until Jack Nicholson persuaded me to do Blood and Wine (1996) with him and restored my faith in the business.
  • After eight years in Hollywood: Weather always the same. Nothing to talk about. No seasons. My gardener told me that if I wanted to grow daffodils, I'd have to keep them in the fridge for five weeks so they'd think they were in England. But I couldn't put them in the fridge because I thought the maid would make onion soup out of them and poison the bloody lot of us.
  • When he was nominated for an Oscar for Educating Rita (1983): Irene Dunne and Loretta Young stopped me and said, 'We both voted for you.' I couldn't believe it!
  • On his first days in Hollywood: It was amazing to see Fred Astaire doing his food shopping.
  • On learning acting in postwar Britain: There was a whole generation of English theatre actors who'd do a film in order to buy a car or a refrigerator, but really thought it was beneath them.
  • [When he told his parents he wanted to act, they assumed he was gay.] That's what we thought actors were, all poofs. And sometimes we were right.
  • Old? I stopped ageing at 38. I still am 38 . . . except when they say, 'Run up those stairs.'
  • [on playing Clarence in Is Anybody There? (2008)] I'm my own worst critic. I spend my entire life trying to get it absolutely right. There are other actors who could do it better, but I'm proud of it. There's no Michael Caine there, there's no ego there. You just see poor old Clarence.
  • I've had such a great time, I'd like to come back as me - and do it all over again.
  • Brown's (Gordon Brown) never been elected by anybody. I'm supposed to be in a country where I get the chance to elect someone and I'm around here at the most dangerous of times led by a man who's never been elected. You've gotta be elected. A political party that's in too long is like a piece of meat - if it's there too long it will go rotten and they've gone rotten and they've gotta go.
  • It should have been a hindrance, but I have a phrase which I taught my children: 'Use the difficulty.' Where I came from, nobody even knew what a drama school was, and everyone thought you couldn't become an actor unless you talked posh. Class is still there but it's less relevant now. You don't need to have gone to a certain kind of school to have done that [become an actor] like you did back then.
  • My father said nothing, but I know that he thought I'd just confessed to being gay. Back then, everyone thought all actors were gay, and most of them were right. But it must have been the right move - did you know that the only good word you can make from 'Michael Caine' is 'cinema'? I discovered that in a crossword 10 years ago.
  • The Government has taken tax up to 50 per cent, and if it goes to 51, I will be back in America. I will not pay the Government more than I get. No way, ever. They've reached their limit with me, and that's what will happen to a lot of people. You know how much they made out of that high taxation all those years ago? Nothing. But they sent a mass of incredible brains to America. This return to high tax will only deepen our debt. While top-earners will be hit by the highest tax in 20 years, our MPs escape Scot-free. We've got three-and-a-half million layabouts laying about on benefits, and I'm 76, getting up at 6am to go to work to keep them. Let's get everybody back to work so we can save a couple of billion and cut tax, not keep sticking it on.
  • I shared a flat with Terence Stamp. I understudied Peter O'Toole. I remember being in Liverpool and going to see a matinée with a young actor nobody had ever heard of called Albert Finney. Oh, a tremendous wave. It was ridiculous. I knew a writer who wanted to write musicals called Lionel Bart, a painter called Francis Bacon.
  • What you have now which you didn't have when I was young is drugs. You had alcoholism, people getting pissed, but you never had the drugs and that is a massive problem. We were shooting in Hackney and someone local came up to me and said, 'Welcome to Crackney!' It was a gentler time when I was young. There were vicious gangsters but they were professional gangsters. They chose who they hit and what they robbed. But the drug addicts today have to kill anybody - it doesn't matter who - to get the money, so you get this incredible random violence. When I was young you fought the guy in the next street. But it wasn't so vicious then. We fought with our fists. Now they fight with knives and guns.
  • [on John Wayne] Every now and then, we used to meet and have a drink or lunch. He genuinely liked me and of course I adored him. I met him by accident in the lobby of the Beverly Hills Hotel. Many years later, Shakira (Caine's wife) was in hospital with peritonitis and John coincidentally was in the next room, dying of cancer. I was around with him at the end. We used to walk up and down the corridor.
  • (On composer John Barry during filming of Deadfall (1968)) Look at him, he's so thin. You wouldn't think he had a bloody note in him!
  • [on prisons] If you put people in cages, don't be surprised if they become animals.
  • I once read, 'You must not compete against your predecessors or your contemporaries. You must compete against yourself.' I try to look for something better and better and better.
  • I refuse to take myself too seriously. I learnt that from Roger Moore many years ago. He said, 'Cheer up, you'd better have a good time because this is not a rehearsal. This is life - this is the show.
  • If parents aren't working, how can they be decent role models? You have to look at all the people who are not sick, who've been on benefits for 20 years and have ten kids. I read in the news that we now spend more in benefits than we collect in income tax. I can't think of any country in the world that's ever done that. There can't be six million people who are too sick to go to work. You can't be accused of attacking the working classes, because they're not working.
  • Schools are cheaper than prisons. They don't need to learn Shakespeare (William Shakespeare); they need to read and write and count, so make sure of that. But we need to bring back the old technical colleges where you went to learn how to be an electrician, a plasterer, a carpenter.
  • I stayed in Britain, but they kept putting the tax up, so I'd do any old thing every now and then to pay the tax, that was my tax exile money. I realised that's not a socialist country, it's a communist country without a dictator, so I left and I was never going to come back. Maggie Thatcher (Margaret Thatcher) came in and put the taxes back down and in the end, you know, you don't mind paying tax. What am I going to do? Not pay tax and drive around in a Rolls Royce, with cripples begging on the street like you see in some countries?
  • I'll probably vote Conservative. I mean, we're in a terrible state whichever way you look at it, socially, financially and politically, so just give the other guy a chance. I don't know what Cameron's (David Cameron) going to do, but in the end you vote out of desperation. You just have to have someone new and see what happens. I voted for Maggie Thatcher (Margaret Thatcher) because I thought we needed a change from that long period of socialism; I voted for Tony Blair because we had a great long period of Conservatism. The thing now is to vote for Cameron (David Cameron).
  • I know there are thousands of actors out there who are as good, and better, than me, who just didn't get the breaks. I'm not saying that I didn't deserve any of this but I'm also aware of the fickle nature of this business, and how being in the right place at the right time can change everything.
  • My Alfie (1966) had to ask, 'What's it all about', as he was a bit stupid. Jude's Alfie (2004) was too smart, too clever by half. I can understand why he said yes to the part, it probably seemed like a good idea at the time. An actor's life is full of decisions, some bad, some good.
  • When they said they wanted to remake Sleuth (1972), my first thought was, 'Why make it again at all?' I do not like remakes. It shows a lack of imagination. But once I saw the script for Sleuth (2007) I realised it wasn't a remake at all. It was a brand new movie.
  • The thing about gangsters in films these days is that they're either funny or they're stupid. Well, I'm sorry, but I've never met a gangster that's either. And I come from something of a gangster milieu. Nor have I met someone who deals out violence for violence's sake. The violence in Get Carter (1971) was incisive, fast and over. One blow, one shot, one hit, what was necessary. No one smashed people up in a sadistic fury.
  • One of the odd things about the country today, odd for me to say it, is the obsession with celebrity. I do regard that as a little bit dangerous. Everyone expects too much of you, too much perfection. And then you get the shock headlines when you realize they're normal, we're all normal - J-Lo's got cellulite shock, and the rest - well, frankly, who gives a shit?
  • I left the country for eight years when tax was put up to 82 per cent. You didn't get the 82 per cent tax from me for eight years. You didn't get any tax at all from me for the next eight years. Apart from that, a quarter of a billion dollars of movies were made outside this country instead of inside it which is just from one stupid, loud-mouth moronic actor. Imagine what is happening to companies, proper companies, who then disappear. It's no good.
  • I never give advice to younger actors. Because when I was their age, I used to ask actors older than me for advice, and the only advice I got was "Just give up."
  • [on the death of Tony Curtis] It was a terrible shock and instantly I remembered the first time I'd met him. I was at a party, it was in winter and there was a fire and I was chain-smoking at the time, smoking a lot of cigarettes. I was stood there talking to someone and suddenly I felt a hand in my inside pocket and they took out my cigarettes and chucked them in the fire. I looked up and it was Tony Curtis. I'd never met him and he was very famous. I said, 'What did you do that for?' And he said, 'You're going to die Michael if you keep doing that.' I didn't give them up then but I did give them up eventually.
  • [on Marlon Brando's sending a surrogate to the 1973 Academy Awards to pick up his Best Actor Oscar for The Godfather (1972)] I think if the man wants to make a gesture, I agree entirely with what he did. But I think he should have stood up and done it himself instead of letting some poor little Indian girl [Sacheen Littlefeather] to take the boos. And if, you're going to make a humanitarian gesture, I think a man who makes $2 million playing the leader of the Mafia should at least give half of it to the Indians.
  • [on one good reason for winning an Oscar] It might mean I'd get more scripts without other actors' coffee stains on them.
  • [on Sean Connery] We're still friends. I phoned him the other day on his 80th birthday, but we never see each other because he doesn't move around a lot now. He won't make another film now, no. I just asked him. He said, 'No, I'll never do it.'
  • Harry Brown (2009) wasn't a movie I wanted to do. It was a movie I HAD to do. I saw a lot of myself in the character and that is what drew me to the role.
  • Unlike my other golfing friend Sidney Poitier, Sean Connery is not the gentlest person in the world and my lack of grasp of the sport would not make him sad as it did Sidney, it would just make him angry. Sean has a terrible temper and when he tried to teach me golf he was so incensed by my performance he grabbed my club and broke it in two. I've never played since and I never will because I do not want to upset two of my best friends, Sean, in particular.
  • Today I'm in the fortunate and luxurious position of only working when I want to. I don't like getting up early or spending a long time learning lines, so these days I only work with offers that I really can't refuse. It's very different from the way I used to be. From the age of 20 to the age of 29, I was obsessed with becoming an actor and when I finally got to Hollywood, I could never quite believe that I had made it and so I kept on working for fear it would all disappear on me. These days, I don't think like that at all. I don't see myself as a Hollywood movie star - in fact I don't see myself as anything in particular.
  • The danger is, of course, that the wait for a decent movie makes you desperate, and I got desperate to the point that I accepted a picture in Alaska with Steven Seagal, the martial arts expert. The movie was called On Deadly Ground (1994) and the title was to prove apt. Although Steven and the rest of the team were great to work with, I had broken one of the cardinal rules of bad movies: if you're going to do a bad movie, at least do it in a great location. Here I was, doing a movie where the work was freezing my brain and the weather was freezing my arse.
  • [on Bullet to Beijing (1995)] It was my worst professional experience ever. The filming itself was a joke. The final blow came when we were shooting in the Lenfilm studio itself. I wanted to go to the toilet and they directed me to it. I could smell it 50 yards away and it was the filthiest lavatory I have ever seen. I went outside and relieved myself against the sound stage, which I noticed several other men had done before. So this is where my career has ended, I thought to myself: in the toilet. I'm done.
  • I think life has got to develop as you get older and I don't want to be wandering along doing the same old thing. I want more out of life.
  • I'm always supremely confident as a movie actor and my own view of myself is that I'm a highly skilled movie actor.
  • I love comedy. I love to make people laugh. If I hadn't been an actor, or an architect, which I really wanted to be, I'd have been a stand-up comic.
  • [When I was evacuated during the war, I spent a brief period with a family who exercised] a mild form of child abuse [by locking me in a cupboard. My mother found out after a fortnight and took me away,] but it was long enough to leave a mark, which formed part of my psyche for the rest of my life. I have never trusted an adult until a great deal of investigation has gone into them. I trust everyone on the surface, but directly anything starts to go deeper in the relationship, I'm very mistrusting. Even now. Because of what happened to me as a child. Maybe that's why I am a controlling person. I usually control the environment I'm in, but my control is very quiet and subtle.
  • [Roger Moore] does the two things I hate most. I love children but I could never do what Roger's doing. My idea of hell is long airplane flights. My other idea of hell is giving speeches to strangers. He does both all the time. Believe me, he's earned his knighthood!'
  • I'm an icon. It says so in the paper.
  • I'm the United Kingdom of Michael Caine.
  • I know a lot of stuff but my close friend, Leslie (lyricist Leslie Bricusse), knows everything, and before Google, the two of us were sort of human Googles!
  • I've always got to have one impossible dream on the back burner. The one I've had for a long time is to write a screenplay from the novel I've written. And direct it, and star in it. It's an impossible dream. But if you think of my life, there are so many impossible dreams that have come true for me that no dream is ever impossible any more as far as I'm concerned.
  • People always told me "you can't be an actor, you don't talk posh." And I said, "I'll show you how to be an actor without talking posh". And I did it.
  • [on Henry Fonda while shooting The Swarm (1978)]: 'He's one of the most astute actors I've ever known, with an intimate awareness of the film profession.'
  • I can seem quite cold and I can hold it in but it stores itself; it works later. I'm very easily moved. I'm not repressed at all.
  • My charity is the NSPCC, which I've always done. I'm one of the patrons at the NSPCC, which harks back to when I was younger. So my charity goes towards children. If I were ever to do another charity, I would do it for the homeless. That's the other thing that bugs me, the homeless. But for me, it's mainly the children. I care very much about them.
  • I do a lot of charity work, but never for adults. I don't like grown-ups very much.
  • If I made a film like The Swarm (1978), I would make three very quickly before it came out, so I always survived failure - because I had a hit. People say: 'Why did you do Jaws: The Revenge (1987)?'. They paid me $1million for 10 days... I come from a very poor background so I wanted to do everything for everyone. Every one of my family got a house. That was the attitude I had. I'm either going to get the Academy Award or I'm going to make a lot of money, I still base it on that.
  • [on Queen Queen Elizabeth II] She knighted me once. I nearly got into trouble though. She said to me, "I have a feeling you have been doing what you do for a very long time". And I almost said, 'And so have you'.
  • (On Sean Connery) If you were his friend in these early days you didn't raise the subject of Bond. He was, and is, a much better actor than just playing James Bond, but he became synonymous with Bond. He'd be walking down the street and people would say, "Look, there's James Bond." That was particularly upsetting to him.
  • [In order to appear strong in character] Don't blink.
  • [About starring in Youth (2015), Hollywood Reporter - December 2015] The only alternative to playing elderly people is playing dead people. So I picked elderly people. That's a better idea.
  • I voted for Brexit. I'd rather be a poor master than a rich servant. It wasn't about racism, immigrants or anything, it was about freedom. In politics you're always going into areas you've never been before, so you're going to get lost and then you're going to find your way, and then it'll be all right.
  • I feel fine. I haven't got cancer. I told a journalist my priority was to see my grandchildren grow up and that's why I look after myself. I stopped drinking a long time ago and I try to eat healthy things. It's not that I want to live for ever but I do want to live long enough to see them become adults. I don't know how someone can conclude from that that I'm on the point of dying from cancer. I've got got three grandchildren and I love going with them to the countryside. I have a house on the outskirts of London and I love cooking for them, although always organic food of course.
  • I voted in favour of Brexit. I did it because once I heard Jean-Claude Juncker speak. This man was the former Prime Minister of a country almost as small as a radio station. I heard this man say what he felt David Cameron, the then-Prime Minister of my country and a person I had voted for, had to do. Who had elected Juncker? And what for? It seemed like a joke to me. From that moment I decided not to pay any attention to my Prime Minister and vote for Brexit. Perhaps we're in a complicated situation now, but we're England and I think we will come through this.
  • I am absolutely adamant about any kind of snobbery, class or anything. I really am a communist - I think I'm a bit of a Nazi because I could really kill people who practice snobbery. I'd like to kill some snobs.
  • We are a little bit behind [in England]. Idris Elba could be James Bond, for Pete's sake, so he's not exactly squashed back because of his colour. When I started, I was the 'black' actor. We didn't have black people; we had working-class people. And so what your experience was when you were growing up was the same for me. My career started, not because of any talent on my part, but because of timing. English theatre never did anything about the working class. Everybody talked what we call "posh." And I always said that Cockneys were the first blacks in England.
  • I don't listen to all these pundits. I'm a Brexiteer myself. Certainly. People say "Oh, you'll be poor, you'll be this, you'll be that.". I say I'd rather be a poor master of my own fate than having someone I don't know making me rich by running it.
  • I don't talk to writers.
  • (On why he turned down Women in Love (1969)) I wouldn't appear nude standing still by myself, let alone wrestling with another naked man. Repulsive! Nothing to do with art or pornography - a purely emotional thing. Either you can appear nude in front of a camera or you can't. And I can't. Nude women are very beautiful. Nude men are ridiculous - and ridicule is the arch enemy of the actor. However good your performance is, the audience would be looking at one thing only: to see how long it is.