Michael Caine – “sitting in mud huts in Tanzania”

Excerpt from Michael Caine’s awesome book Michael Caine – Acting in Film: An Actor’s Take on Movie Making. Here he describes his attitude towards how he chooses projects – an attitude for which he is pretty famous. Hilarious – I love this one.

I choose a script because the part is good for me and because it’s different from the last role I did. I look for an acting challenge.

But as I get older, I’m also a lot more interested in the circumstances under which a film will be shot. Will it be a little shoestring picture that will have us sitting in mud huts in Tanzania? Or are we going to be put up in the George V in Paris? I never used to look at that side of making a film.

I once spent 26 weeks in a Philippine jungle which, looking back, could just as well have been the tropical garden at Kew, for all the difference it made to the picture. In the jungle, you can’t see the sky, you can’t see the scenery. All you can see is jungle. We lived for 26 weeks in an unfinished brothel. The rooms were expected to be used for 20 minutes at a time and were furnished accordingly. 26 weeks in rooms like that. And there wasn’t a girl in any of them. After that experience, I did The Magus without ever reading the script because the weather in England is lousy in January and I’d get a few weeks in the South of France out of it. That choice was a bit of a mistake on some grounds, but in turns of climate, I had a winner.

I close a script quickly if it starts, “Alaska: our hero is stumbling through a blizzard …”

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6 Responses to Michael Caine – “sitting in mud huts in Tanzania”

  1. peteb says:

    “And there wasn’t a girl in any of them.”

    Try not to sound too disappointed, Michael.

  2. bill says:


    loving the caine!

    I can hear that great glib voice of his every time I read one of these great excerpts! And the cagney quote…saw “public enemy” two days ago…fantastic!

  3. red says:

    bill – I love that movie. Cagney is just so damn good.

  4. bill says:


    yeah, re: public enemy…if that young james cagney was in a movie TOMORROW he would STILL become a movie star! He’s that great. The extras on the dvd had a story about how Scorcese brought a bunch of young actors in to watch that prior to THE AVIATOR and they all were riveted, “the birth of modern acting” I think they called it (though it’s equally possible I read that here and am projecting)…

  5. red says:

    bill – Speaking of Cagney, have you seen this? Some great stills.

    Oh and definitely – Cagney could be a movie star any time, anywhere.

  6. bill says:


    Thanks! Read that lileks per your recommendation at the time! The stills are great. And that jean harlow (waving stinky hand). Oy, was she bad! I thought Cagney’s greatest acting was his restraint in not suffocating her with a grapefruit!

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