The running joke at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s gala tribute to Michael Caine was — don’t try to guess — a fond speech by the President of Iceland, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson. It seems the pol, who’s now married to the actor’s wife’s best friend, won Caine’s heart at lunch four years ago on a hot summer day when the icebox broke. Caine recalled, “He said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m the president of Iceland, but I have no ice.’ “
The 2,500 attendees who packed Avery Fisher Hall roared when Steve Martin, who starred with Caine in “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” started off: “I understand why I’m here. I understand why Ian Holm is here. I understand why Phillip Noyce is here … (long pause) … I don’t understand why the President of Iceland is here.” The event’s planners, he said, “probably thought it was a pipe dream — that they might be able to get the President of Iceland.”
Caine, 68, thanked the organizers for not showing clips of his work in chronological order, “so you see yourself aging before your eyes.” Attendees included New Line’s Michael Lynne and Robert Shaye, Sony Pictures Classics’ Michael Barker, Benjamin Bratt and Dominick Dunne.