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Michael Caine on Sleuth

Published October 13, 2007 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Images property of Sony Pictures Classics.
Michael Caine played Milo Tindle in the original Sleuth. Now he plays Andrew Wyke to Jude Law's Tindle. Perhaps in a third remake, Caine can just play both parts at the same time.

Caine on Redoing Sleuth


"No, I'm too old for the younger one," Caine said. "Even when I did the first one with Olivier, I always thought that his part was better than mine. I like this part. It's a good part. I don't want to play the other one. Anyway, Jude's prettier than I am. He should be. It's very hard to do a story where I took the wife away from Jude. See what I mean? Some girls do like older men, don't they? Thank God."

Since Harold Pinter completely rewrote the script for the new Sleuth, Caine felt no flashbacks to his previous work. "None of the lines are the same so there's no sense of me remaking something. I couldn't look at Jude when he was working and say, 'Oh, I said that line better than he did' because there are no lines there that I said. I'm not saying any lines that Larry ever said, and we're certainly not the same kind of characters because I have a house which is full of technology which wasn't even invented then. I'm sure if you saw Larry play that character, if you took the computer to him, he'd say, 'Oh, I'm no good at that sort of thing.' He would say that, but I'm an expert at that. I've got a whole house full of it. I'm a control freak. If I went to that house, I'd be frightened to go to the toilet in case someone came out with a digital photograph."

The new Sleuth duo prepared for their on camera banter extensively. "We just rehearsed. You just stick to your own character. That's what you do. If you stay with your character, I've always found that sometimes you work with awkward actors. I'm not talking about Jude, he's fabulous. But I found very early on that if you stay with your character, you're bulletproof. No other actor can shoot you down. If they mess about, they do stupid things on the take or anything, you just stay in character and they're the ones that look silly."


Sleuth Poster Sleuth

Sleuth Poster Sleuth


Sleuth Poster Sleuth

It would not have made sense for either actor to improvise with this script. Their job was to play it all straight. "If you're an actor with Pinter, what you do is you always, no matter what it is, you're like the straight man in a comedy duo. If you say something funny or try to be anything other than straight, you screw the whole act up. You've got to regard Pinter as the comic and you are the straight man. You must remain in character because what makes Pinter so unusual is you say these things and people who are ordinary people just like you, seemingly ordinary on screen go, 'Do you hear what he just said? And he never blinked, he just went straight on.' And you go, 'What the hell's going on here? He just said that and it was like pass the salt.' For instance, I've got a line in there where I say, 'Were you breastfed.' And he says, 'Yes, like a baby.' And the conversation goes [on]. It's just Pinter."

Sleuth is out in theaters now.

For the trailer, review and more movie info, go to the Sleuth Movie Page.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Images property of Sony Pictures Classics.
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