“We’ve been rehearsing for two weeks,” Michael Caine told me on the phone from his London flat Thursday.
He, Jude Law and director Kenneth Branagh are readying to start “Sleuth.” You recall, Caine costarred with Laurence Olivier in the 1972 version of Anthony Shaffer’s play-script. Both Caine and Olivier were Oscar-nominated for their performances. “But we canceled each other out,” Caine (now) laughs. Marlon Brando won (for ‘The Godfather’). You recall, that’s the year Marlon had Sacheen Littlefeather accept for him. (Michael went on to win two Oscars, three BAFTAS and three Golden Globes.)
Now, in the Harold Pinter “Sleuth” script, Caine plays the role previously starring Olivier and Law is playing the role originated by Caine. “But–,” Michael is very definite, “this is NOT a remake. We are making a movie, not a remake.”
Now, Caine is suited in black in the somber country house in which Olivier dressed the role of a country gentleman. And the house — well that’s a whole different setting, says Caine. “I play a control freak — and the house — heavy with marble and glass — boasts many remote control features. I am a murderous psychotic and I researched the character and these conditions with Kenneth (Branagh). But I’ll tell you no more,” Caine laughed, obviously enjoying the prospect of his machinations in the role.
Caine claims he hasn’t worked much in the past year — only “Batman” Begins,” “The Prestige” and “Children of Men.” But he segues from “Sleuth” to a return in the next “Batman” in his role as Christian Bale’s mentor. “I love doing it,” Caine happily admitted. “Even though (director) Christopher Nolan doesn’t let me keep the script once I’ve seen it — and only in his presence.”
But he’s looking forward to it and lets us in on some of the locations — Hong Kong, London, L.A. and Baltimore. “Baltimore!” he exclaims. “What will happen in Baltimore?” Stay tuned. And oh yes, Caine, who says he hasn’t “worked in a long time,” will next also star in a “smaller” film — “Is Anybody Out There?”
There certainly is — Michael Caine.