ĎAllo lads and dolly birds. Had anyone told me a couple of years ago that Iíd be lucky enough to be in the same room with the excellent, original Cockney rebel, Sir Michael Caine and Iíd have checked to see which leg you were pulling. Tell me Iíd be so fortunate as to speak with him a second time to discuss his provocative and violent new film, Harry Brown, Iíd have creeped away slowly while dialing Bellevue, but hereís Sir Michael himself to tell us what itís all about.
Sir Michael Caine
The Lady Miz Diva: Sir Michael, when we last spoke during press for Is Anybody There, you mentioned Harry Brown and seemed to light up as you talked about it. I got the sense there was a connection for you with this film.
Sir Michael Caine: Oh, there was very much a connection with it because I came from that sort of background, anyway, a gang background and everything, very similar. And that was coincidental, but where they actually shot the movie was in the very place that I came from, in those blocks of flats there. They werenít built then. We got bombed out at the end of the war, in the Blitz, and from America and Canada they got these plastic houses in a box and they put them up very quickly, called prefabricated houses, while they had time to build the proper buildings that you saw. Not that they had proper buildings, either. And so that was exactly where I came from, and in those apartments - on the wall at the entrance to those apartments - is a plaque with me on it and Charlie Chaplin who came from there. But Iím not comparing myself to Charlie Chaplin, but he just happens to be on there as well cos he came from there, as well. So the whole story when I got it, it was actually written by a guy who was in Newcastle, which is in the north of England on the same estate Ė not estates, you call them projects Ė you could got from any of those projects in England, it would be the same. All youíd do is change the accent of the people and thatís it. So, I knew what it was all about, or at least thought I knew, until I actually went back, cos I hadnít been back and I was there for a couple of months, shooting at night. And although I was in a gang, these gangs now sort of made us look like Mary Poppins, you know? Our gangs, we were there for self-protection, really. It was only about twelve of us; we didnít have a name or initiation. It was just we were always clung together to stop getting beaten up. And if we did have any drugs or fights, the drug would be alcohol and the weapons would be fists. But when I went back now and saw the drug scene and the guns and the knives and the deaths. I mean, thereís a lot of killings to do with that, you know? And so, I made the movie partly if you wanna put a social message on it - I made it because it was a good part for me, a good script, and I felt, a good thriller - but the message is, ĎItís there and if you donít do something about it, this is what will happen.í
LMD: During our last conversation, you told me that your wife and daughter were very upset by the character you played in Is Anybody There? How did they feel about all the violence in Harry Brown?
MC: Thatís what surprised me with this movie is my wife hates violent films, really does, and she wonít watch Ďem. I get the DVDs and my eldest daughter loves them, she sits and watches them with me, my wife doesnít. Then they had a little showing for me on my own and Shakira, just to see how it turned out finished, and I said to her, cos I knew what was coming, ďLook, you walk out the minute you want to and Iíll come with you and weíll run it again for me on my own tomorrow. So, donít hesitate, get up.Ē And she sat the whole way through it and she said, ďI didnít enjoy it,Ē cos itís not a film you would say you enjoyed, she said, ďI liked what it was and so I stayed.Ē
LMD: But when you read the script, did you have any hesitation yourself about how brutal the film is?
MC: No, because if it had been a film like Death Wish, which was a violent film where you cut to the knife going in and the blood coming out and the stomach opening -- thatís different. This was a film about violence, and it was a film about an innocent man who was violent and itís about a vigilante who is mainly a victim. Heís a victim of the entire system.
LMD: There have been rumours that youíd said Harry Brown would be your last starring role, is that accurate?
MC: No, no! Itís not that, no. I have for a long time I regarded myself Ė I regard myself as retired unless I get a script that I absolutely canít refuse. Obviously, I did Harry Brown, so I figured that was it. But no, I said before, but itís changed recently, that I just sit there and wait and if no script turned up that I wanted to do, or if a script turned up that I wanted to do and no one would back it Ö
The movie business retires you; you donít retire from the movie business.
LMD: Well, you mentioned Mr. Conneryís retirement with him living on his golf course and how weíd never see him again. I wondered if you could picture that for yourself?
MC: Yeah, well, Sean, the movie business retired him because he didnít want to play small parts or old men. And so they never offered him any young parts or romantic leads, so he was gone. I got that. I got a script and I sent it back, I said, ďThe partís too short.Ē The producer sent it back to me and said, ďDonít read the lover, read the father.Ē
~ The Lady Miz Diva
April 28th, 2010
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