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Michael Caine on Film Acting

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

“I’ll always be there because I’m a skilled professional actor. Whether or not I’ve any talent is beside the point.”

In this 1989 video tutorial, actor Michael Caine talks in a very direct, simple, practical way about the craft of acting specifically for films — it’s all about the eyes, the camera, and ignoring everything else. Caine, of course, is a superb actor who somehow has never really gotten his due in the history books — he runs the gamut from pop films to absolutely personal works, and manages to excel in every role he tackles. In sharp contract to lots of theoretical approaches to working in film, Caine demonstrates here a whole arsenal of methods, techniques, and strategies that make him such an effective screen presence.

As he told Sean O’Neal in 2011, “I’m forever testing myself. As a person and as an actor, I have no sense of competition. I am a great admirer of other actors, but I never compete with other actors. I always compete with what I did last, and I’m my own most vicious critic. So I’m always trying to do it better. Let me put it this way: If you’re sitting in a movie and you’re watching me, and you say, ‘Isn’t that Michael Caine a wonderful actor?’ then I’ve failed. If I’m a really wonderful actor, you’ll forget [I'm acting] because you’re going ‘What’s going to happen to [my character] now?’ That’s a movie actor, and that’s what I try to be.”

“I’m looking for me to disappear, and the acting to disappear, and all you see is a real person.”

About the Author

Wheeler Winston Dixon

Wheeler Winston Dixon, Ryan Professor of Film Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is an internationally recognized scholar and writer of film history, theory and criticism. He is the author of thirty books and more than 100 articles on film, and appears regularly in national media outlets discussing film and culture trends. Frame by Frame is a collection of his thoughts on a number of those topics. To contact Prof. Dixon for an interview, reach him at 402.472.6064 or wdixon1@unl.edu. Visit him at his website wheelerwinstondixon.com.

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