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Interstellar - Michael Caine interview


Compiled by Ann Lee and Rob Carnevale

SCREEN legend Michael Caine discusses his passion for working with director Christopher Nolan and why the idea of wormholes only previously extended to his love for gardening prior to the start of filming. He was speaking at a UK press conference.

Q. This is the sixth time you’ve worked with Chris. How did you find it?
Michael Caine: You spend your life as an actor thinking: “Is it going to be a hit?” Sometime it is, sometimes it isn’t. Six pictures with Christopher and every one was a hit, so every time he asks me: “Do you want to do a movie?” I say, “Yes”. He asks: “Do you want to read the script?” And I say: “No.” It’s quite extraordinary working with him because he also writes it and nothing is what it seems. I remember the first time he came to me with a script. He came to my house and I asked: “What is it?” He said: “Batman.” I thought to myself: “I’m too old to play Batman. What does he want me to play?” And he said: “I want you to play the butler.” I [then] thought: “What kind of dialogue would I have? And I said, ‘what do I say? ‘Dinner is served? Would you like a beverage with that’?” But he said: “No, Michael, read the script.” So, I read the script and the butler is the foster father of Batman. Nothing is what it seems with Chris.

Q. Looking to the future, do you feel positive or negative [about the state of the environment]?
Michael Caine: I’m 81, so I’m positive [Laughs].

Q. The first line of your memoir reads, “The shortest distance between two points is not necessarily a straight line.” So have you always been interested in wormholes?
Michael Caine: I’m a very good amateur gardener and I see quite a lot of wormholes [laughs]. That’s what I thought they meant. I didn’t understand it until this movie, and then I met Kip Thorne, who I think invented wormholes – or did he discover them? I’m playing him in the movie, so I know a lot about wormholes now. I’ve seen the movie and we’ve been through a wormhole. We know what’s on the other side – special effects. [Laughs] For me, I thought I knew what I was doing. I grew a beard just like Kip Thorne. And then I asked him lots of questions about anything that was puzzling me. Then I went and did my office set, which he designed. And in there was an algebraic problem, which was about 50 feet long by four feet high, and I thought I might have come up against something here that I wasn’t going to be good at. [Laughs] So I said: “How many problems is that?” And he said: “It’s one.” I said: “Do you know what it means?” He said: “I wrote it.” I said: “Do you know the answer?” He said: “Yes. But it’s too difficult to tell you.” [Laughs] So, that’s when I stopped trying to be clever.

Q. What’s your favourite science fiction character?
Michael Caine: Sandra Bullock in Gravity.

Q. This film raises a serious ecological message – that we have to save the world. So, what have you been doing to reduce your carbon footprint?
Michael Caine: I was so poor for so long that I didn’t use anything. I didn’t drive cars, I didn’t eat very much. So, I figured the world owed me a debt, so I’ve been eating very well and have had a very big car for a long time. But I still haven’t caught up with my youth. [Laughs]

Q. What are your thoughts on the use of film versus digital?
Michael Caine: As an actor, my attitude towards it is, if you have film, they have to cut eventually so you don’t have to learn all that dialogue. With digital, they can just go on forever and it’s a nightmare. So, I like film – nice short takes. I just worked with Paolo Sorrentino and he has four cameras, and he doesn’t even rehearse because he has digital. And you just go on there, and you go fluffing through it, and he doesn’t care: you just keep going and going and going and going. And then you go home. Then you come back the next day. So I prefer film.

Read our review of Interstellar

Read our interview with director Christopher Nolan