At this point in career, Sir Michael Caine can get away with saying just about anything he wants to. Unless Christopher Nolan says “Don’t.”
While doing press for “Cars 2” via satellite from England, where he’s just begun shooting “The Dark Knight Rises,” Caine admitted his Batman director insists on tight lips, even from an Oscar-winning acting legend.
“It’s fantastic. I started filming last week and I film next week,” said Caine. “As the butler I do a lot of filming at the beginning and everybody goes off and does all the adventures and then come home shot to pieces and I patch them together when they all get back. Christopher Nolan, I think he's one of the greatest directors in the world, and I've been lucky enough that this is my fifth movie with him. It's such a pleasure to work with him. [But] we've all signed the official Secrets Act, and I'm lucky to be able to tell you the title of the movie!”
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“I remember that I did an interview and they asked me what I was doing next and I said, 'I'm doing "Batman,"' recalls Caine. “I told Chris and he said, 'Why did you tell them that you were doing "Batman"?' I said, ‘Because I am.' 'You're supposed to keep it a secret.' 'I couldn't keep that a secret.' But let me tell you, it's extraordinary, really extraordinary, and I know WHY he wants to keep it a secret. You really need to not know until you see the movie – which, by the way, goes for the cast, too.”
Caine was willing to recall how, following his long habit of coming up with backstories for the characters he plays onscreen, he created his personal take on Bruce Wayne’s man Friday/foster father Alfred Pennyworth, picking up a cue only sometimes explored in the Batman comic books. “I wanted him to be tough butler,” said Caine. “I wanted him to be an ex-soldier. His voice is the voice of the first sergeant that I ever had, because I was a soldier, and I have this voice of a sergeant, and that's his voice."
"I always imagine him to be SAS, which is our [British] Special Forces," added Caine. "He was wounded and didn't want to leave the army and went to work in the officer's mess, working behind the bar. Batman's father came to visit a friend there and saw him and said, 'Would you like to be trained as a butler,' and he said, 'Yes.' And then he went to America with him and was trained as a butler.”