Christopher Nolan is clearly skilled in the art of the ambush – just ask Michael Caine.
“I was at home one Sunday morning about nine years ago, and there was a knock on the door, and there was Chris standing there,” recalled Caine, speaking at a press conference for “The Dark Knight Rises” over the weekend. “And I recognized him [as] the man who had directed two films…’Memento’ and the other one…’Insomnia.’ And he had a script, and I thought ‘oh, this is gonna be a lovely little thriller we’re gonna do.'”
Little did he realize that Nolan had something considerably bigger in mind.
“So he came in…and I said ‘what’s the name of the movie?'” Caine continued, speaking in that famous cockney accent. “And he said, ‘Batman Begins.’…and I thought ‘bloody hell, he’s gonna do some great big movie!’ And I thought, ‘I’m too old play Batman, I wonder who he wants me to be?’ I knew it wasn’t Catwoman. And he said, ‘the butler.'”
Understandably, the idea of playing the hired help in a big-budget superhero movie isn’t bound to be a welcome one to a two-time Oscar winner (“I thought, ‘I don’t know whether I want to say…dinner is served, would you like another bowl of soup?” the actor recalled). Not helping matters was the fact that Nolan wasn’t even willing to leave the script with him to read overnight.
“He gave me the script, and…I said ‘I’ll give you a ring tomorrow.’ And he said – Chris is very secretive, very secretive – and he said ‘no, I want you to read the script now and I’m taking it away with me.’ He didn’t want me to keep it! So he had a cup of tea with my missus, I read it, and I said ‘yes, I’ll do it.’…I was stunned by the writing, because it was a relationship…it wasn’t just like cipher characters that you normally get in these big special effect stunt movies. They were real, real people, and [it was] written like a drama. And I said yes, and I’ve never regretted saying that for one moment.”
The lesson? If you’re an acting legend and your quiet Sunday morning at home is interrupted by a knock at the front door, it might just behoove you to answer it.
“The Dark Knight Rises” hits theaters on July 20.