Christopher Nolan Went Straight to Michael Caine’s Front Door to Offer Him an Iconic ‘Batman’ Role
If Michael Caine did imagine he would one day play Bruce Wayne’s butler Alfred in the iconic DC Batman franchise, he certainly couldn’t have anticipated how he’d get the part. In a recent interview, Caine revealed the unconventional (and yet totally conventional) way Christopher Nolan offered him the iconic role.
Christopher Nolan introduced himself to Michael Caine as a ‘director of movies’
In an August 2021 interview with Variety, Michael Caine revealed Christopher Nolan’s direct method of offering him a role the director knew he’d be perfect for.
“I have a country house and I was there on a Sunday and the doorbell rang and I was near it so I answered it,” Caine told Variety. “And there was a man standing there with a script in his hand and he said he was a director of movies.”
Caine explained what happened next, saying the Inception director got straight to the point.
“He said, ‘Can I come in?’ And he said to me, ‘I want you to play the butler in Batman.’ So I said, ‘The butler? What do I say, ‘Dinner is served?’ He said no, he was the godfather of Batman and it’s a much bigger part. That was the first thing I remembered about Christopher Nolan.”
Caine went on to play the faithful Alfred Pennyworth in Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008), and The Dark Knight Rises (2012) opposite Christian Bale.
Michael Caine continued, saying that the experience was “fantastic.”
“And playing the movie was absolutely fantastic,” Caine said. “The thing about Nolan is you don’t always know what’s going on in the scene, as an actor. And you ask him and he says, ‘I’ll tell you after you’ve done it.’”
Michael Caine had decided to retire by the time the opportunity presented itself
It turns out that Caine had already decided to retire when Nolan offered him the role. Caine admitted that the turn of events was a stroke of good luck. It made all the difference in his career.
“It was such a wonderful thing for me because I had almost given up cinema,” the Tenet actor admitted. In fact, he parlayed the move into an Oscar win.
“But it gave me a whole new outlook in life,” he continued. “And then I went on to win the Academy Award in Cider House Rules and it was amazing the things I did after I decided I didn’t want to do anything anymore. I thought, ‘It’s not in you to do these things anymore.’ I was tired and old – I was 65. Jack Nicholson was living in Miami and he said, ‘I’ve got a script and I want us to do it together.’ And I suddenly thought if I retired at 65 I would never have won an Academy Award, I would never have done a picture with Jack Nicholson, and would not have done all those movies with Christopher Nolan.”
Caine now calls his Christopher Nolan movies his ‘good luck charm’
Caine’s loyalty to Nolan is evident in his prolific list of Nolan-directed films. The actor went on to appear in The Prestige (2006,) Tenet (2020,) Dunkirk (2017,) Interstellar (2014,) and Inception (2010,) along with the famously dark Batman films.
“I’m in his movies now as a good luck charm,” he told Variety. “I was in Dunkirk. There was no part for me but I was the officer who answered all the airplanes and gave them instructions what to bomb.”
When you’ve reached the point that Christopher Nolan creates roles for you, you’ve most certainly ‘arrived’ as an actor.