Here at HeyUGuys we are fortunate enough to spend time with many of our heroes from the silver screen – but this week presented a quite unforgettable opportunity, as we sat down with two of the greatest living actors, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine.
In London to promote their latest picture, the heist comedy Going in Style, we discussed with the pair the role of the elderly in modern society, and exactly what it is that keeps luring them back to work. They speak about nerves, pensions, hobbies and movie choices – as we just sit down and listen as the pair reminisce on two quite remarkable careers. Plus, Caine reveals who he believes does the very best impression of him – and there’s a been a fair few.
Also be sure to catch our video interview below:
Morgan Freeman & Michael Caine Video Interview
Can you see the correlation between a heist and acting? That adrenaline, taking that risk and putting everything at stake?
Caine: I know what you mean, to be scared? Yeah, acting is a bit like that.
Freeman: Only once in a while though.
Caine: Yeah not us two, we’re not terrified or anything.
Freeman: I’ve only been scared once. I was trying to do something I was really ill-equipped to do, and I haven’t met the actor yet who was equipped.
Caine: What was that?
Caine: Oh blimey, yeah.
Freeman: I saw Sir Laurence Olivier play Othello and he’s awesome, but I’ve never seen anyone else do it and pull it off.
Do those nerves lessen as time moves on, or do you still get those butterflies?
Caine: No, you get an incredible relaxation knowing that you know how you can tackle this. Especially if you’re working with great people, which we do. And especially when you’re working with friends, which in my case is Morgan, we’ve known each other a long time and we’ve done six pictures together, so it made for a tremendous relaxation. But you’ve still got to be wary of what you’re doing, because you can get so relaxed you fall asleep, and if you do that, the audience do it.
Did you realise when you were kids you wanted to act? Were you very imaginative when young?
Freeman: Yes and no. I spent a lot of time alone when I was a kid, we lived in Chicago and the winters were horrendous. So I was very bookish as a child, my imagination was cranked high all the time.
What sort of books?
Freeman: Books like Nancy Drew, stuff for kids. Animal stories, Silver Chief Dog of the North, things like that. Then I graduated into books about flying, and then graduated into regular novels, not history books.
Going in Style scrutinises over the roles of the elderly in modern society – do you think they’re being erased from the public eye?
Caine: Yes, but that’s always been the case, more so now. We brought that to everyone’s attention in this picture, as a motive for our robbery. The losing of the pension, in England particularly, and losing mortgages, lots of people have done that. We’ve installed that in a comedy, so you can go and have a laugh and have something to think about on the way home.
There’s a reoccurring line in the film which is, “it’s a culture’s duty to look after its elderly”.
Caine: Yeah old people are not dying in the streets, they have pensions, caring homes, medicare, lots of things. But sometimes it slips down and what happens is that the banks are being very bad with people, and that’s what this is about basically.
Freeman: But there is another problem inherent in all this, and that’s the fact we live a lot longer now.
Caine: There’s so many more old people.
Freeman: So if you’ve got a large number of elderly people and you don’t have them have a voting bloc, then what you have is a load that seems to be sitting on society.
Caine: Put them in a movie.
You both have incredibly distinctive voices, and sensibilities as actors. There’s been an advertising campaign in the UK for More Than using an impressionist doing your voice Morgan, and Michael you have The Trip for instance, where Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon impersonate you. So when you two spend a lot of time in each other’s company on set – do you ever find yourselves impersonating the other?
Freeman: I’m not an impersonator at all, I can’t do them.
Caine: I made a picture with John Huston and I used to do him, but I never did him to him, he didn’t know, I didn’t want to get sacked. But the best impressionist of me is Tom Hanks. He did it on Saturday Night Live, I saw him do it and it was the best one I’ve ever seen.
Who do you think does it better out of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon?
Caine: I can’t remember, it’s been such a long time, but I have seen it. [Turns to Freeman] It’s a documentary of two comedians who go out on a trip and all they do is talk to each other in my voice.
Artists, be it actors or musicians, never seem to stop working. Why?
Freeman: Why stop?
Caine: If old people are growing older, you’ve got an audience out there, so you can act older. Now there is stuff out there to do. I did this picture, I’ve done another since, and I have two more to do – and I’m 84. I thought I’d be sitting at home watching TV. But there’s nothing on.
So when does it all end?
Freeman: When the industry decides it does. It’s not like they all get together and say ‘let’s give Morgan Freeman a rest’, it’s just that nothing comes your way. I don’t need to take time off, I know I’m gonna get it.
Caine: Yep, you’re gonna get it, and you know you’re gonna get it.
You’ve said you wouldn’t know what to do with yourself if you weren’t acting – is that still the case?
Freeman: Yes, work is important, and I don’t have any other work. It’s good for you health wise to keep busy, keep your mind and body active.
Caine: That’s important. I mean, once you sit down and start watching TV series and you get to know the names of everybody in it, then you’re gone. You’re gone. You’ve got to keep moving around.
You spoke earlier about what inspired you as children – but does acting, in some ways, maintain that childlike quality? I guess it brings out that innate playfulness, it’s the world of make-believe, after all.
Freeman: Yeah, it is the world of make-believe, always being someone you’re not. So yes, I think that’s kind of childlike.
Caine: Yes, yes.
Freeman: It’s one of the perks in life to be an actor, there is a quality of being a child to this play-acting, and we do it with great pleasure.
So does that dictate now the roles you choose? This is a comedy, working with close friends, and you get the impression from the movie you all had a fun time making it. Is that what you’re looking for most now, at this stage, something you’d just enjoy making?
Caine: Yeah. I first look at the location, there are some places I don’t wanna go. So before I read the script I ask. If it’s Lower Slobbovia or something, in a mountain, in December, I say no, I don’t even read it.
Going in Style is released in the UK on April 7th.