Michael Caine Quotes

1. Be like a duck. Calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath.

2. I felt a tremendous sadness for men who can't deal with a woman of their own age.

3. Obsession is a young man's game, and my only excuse is that I never grew old.

4. I'll always be there because I'm a skilled professional actor. Whether or not I've any talent is beside the point.

5. I'm every bourgeois nightmare - a Cockney with intelligence and a million dollars.

6. I wouldn't make an anti-American film. I'm one of the most pro-American foreigners I know. I love America and Americans.

7. When you reach the top, that's when the climb begins.

8. A lot of my best parts I've been the second choice for, so you never get too egotistical about anything.

9. Alfie was the first time I was above the title; the first time I became a star in America.

10. As an actor, I'll play anything. 

11. At 69, I got the girl! And it wasn't a 68-year-old girl, either.

12. Anyone can write. But comedy, you've got to do some writing. You get one comedy script to every 20 dramas.

13. Comedy is underrepresented in every actor's life, because it's so bloody difficult to write.

14. English is clipped in speech. Texas is exactly the opposite.

15. For all my education, accomplishments, and so called "wisdom"…I can't fathom my own heart.

16. Funny things happen to you in movies for silly reasons.

17. I admired Marlon Brando as I grew up. I thought he was one of the finest screen actors around.

18. Hollywood is a cross between a health farm, a recreation center and an insane asylum. It's a company town, and I happen to like the company!

19. I am in so many movies that are on TV at 2:00 a.m. that people think I am dead.

20. I am a great admirer of other actors, but I never compete with other actors. I always compete with what I did last, and I'm my own most vicious critic. So I'm always trying to do it better.

21. I did everything. I ran my life exactly as I wanted to, all the time. I never listened to anybody. I'm pig-headed.

22. I don't work very much, and I just sit here waiting for a script that I can't refuse - and I'm not talking about money.

23. I feel like 35. At 35 you're old enough to know something and young enough to look forward to what you can do with the knowledge. So I stayed at 35!

24. I prefer to remake flops. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was a remake of a flop, and The Quiet American is a remake of a flop.

25. I read books like mad, but I am careful not to let anything I read influence me.

26. I regard myself as someone who is retired but who occasionally goes out to work. In fact, I'm offered so much good stuff that it's not so occasional.

27. I see myself as 38, but you don't notice it.

28. I started with the firm conviction that when I came to the end, I wanted to be regretting the things that I had done, not the things I hadn't.

29. I'm a sort of boy next door. If that boy has a good scriptwriter.

30. I think what is British about me is my feelings and awareness of others and their situations. English people are always known to be well mannered and cold but we are not cold - we don't interfere in your situation. If we are heartbroken, we don't scream in your face with tears - we go home and cry on our own.

31. I used to get the girl; now I get the part. In "The Quiet American" 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.

32. I'm forever testing myself. As a person and as an actor, I have no sense of competition.

33. I've made the transition from star to character actor and I'm thoroughly enjoying it.

34. I'm the audience's representative on earth.

35. If you think you're going to be up for an Oscar, you schedule your moviemaking.

36. If you go away on location for three months and your wife stays at home, you've made a whole new load of friends and she's made a whole new load of friends and you get home and you're kind of strangers.

37. In the sixties, everyone you knew became famous. My flatmate was Terence Stamp. My barber was Vidal Sassoon. David Hockney did the menu in a restaurant I went to. I didn't know anyone unknown who didn't become famous.

38. 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.

39. January is the garbage can of movies in America, directly after all the Oscar contenders have been out.

40. My most useful acting tip came from my pal John Wayne. Talk low, talk slow, and don't say too much.

41. My wife comes with me on all the movies, but she is not an appendage to a film star or anything like that. She is a completely intertwined partner. She is the other half of me. Also, we're still very much in love with each other. We always have been, we always will be.

42. My problem was that I was blond. There were no heroes with blond hair. Robert Taylor and Henry Fonda, they all had dark hair. The only one I found was Van Johnson, who wasn't too cool. He was a nice, homely American boy. So I created my own image. It worked.

43. My own mentality is that I've retired. They send me these scripts and if I absolutely have to do it, then I go to work.

44. Oh, what a shock. My career must be slipping. This is the first time I've been available to pick up an award.

45. The absent are never without fault. Nor the present without excuse.

46. Save your money. You're going to need twice as much money in your old age as you think.

47. The American cinema in general always made stories about working-class people; the British rarely did. Any person with my working-class background would be a villain or a comic cipher, usually badly played, and with a rotten accent. There weren't a lot of guys in England for me to look up to.

48. The best research for playing a drunk is being a British actor for 20 years.

49. 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?"

50. The first actor I ever saw was The Lone Ranger. I thought: "That's what I want to do".

51. The standing ovation threw me…to be held in such regard in a town so full of talent is quite something.

52. The three actors I admire the most are all dead. Humphrey Bogart, Spencer Tracy and the French actor, Jean Gabin. They're all very natural, sort of masculine without being overly macho.

53. Things are not quite what they seem always. Don't start me on class, otherwise you'll get a four-hour lecture.

54. There's quite a lot of bad stuff written about me. My wife even says a lot of bad stuff about me. But she is wonderful.

55. 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.

56. When I'm doing an accent, you shouldn't notice it for a while, if I'm doing it right.

57. You get paid the same for a bad film as you do for a good one.

58. I've never been out with a married woman, never. I respect others' properties.

59. Film stars to me were always six feet four, had perfect teeth and could do handstands on Malibu Beach - and didn't need glasses.

60. 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. (On filming MacHale's Navy)

61. My career is going better now than when I was younger. It used to be that I'd get the girl but not the part. Now I get the part but not the girl.

62. If you're a movie actor, you're on your own - you cannot control the stage. The director controls it.

63. My understanding of women goes only as far as the pleasures.

64. I love HD. Of course, it's very unforgiving, especially on young beautiful ladies, but thank God I'm old, I don't care.

65. 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 Noel Coward part. I'd consider it, yes.

66. In England I was a Cockney actor. In America, I was an actor.

67. (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.

68. 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.

69. 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.

70. (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.

71. (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.

72. 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.

73. I've made an awful lot of films. In fact, I've made a lot of awful films.

74. (In reference to the Oscar Family Album Tribute sequence at The 70th Annual Academy Awards (1998) (TV) 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!

75. (on Julie Walters) "Educating Rita" 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.

76. 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".

77. 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".

78. (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.

79. (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.

80. (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.

81. (on Ray Milland) A nice old bloke.

82. (about remakes of his classic films such as Get Carter (1971) and The Italian Job (1969)) I wish they would remake the BAD ones!

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