Sir Michael recalls Lowestoft

BRITISH acting legend Sir Michael Caine maintains that the people of Suffolk have never seen him at his best.Speaking at the launch of his latest film The Actors, he said, he spent his second year as an actor at Lowestoft.

BRITISH acting legend Sir Michael Caine maintains that the people of Suffolk have never seen him at his best.

Speaking at the launch of his latest film The Actors, he said, he spent his second year as an actor at Lowestoft.

"I must have been very bad. In fact I know I was because I had no training. I was just an ex-soldier looking to get on. But the company was a definite step up from Horsham where I had been before I came to Suffolk."

Caine said that his new film triggered nostalgic memories of his nine years in rep – not that he could ever be persuaded to return to the boards.


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"It was classic rep. We did a play a week. I was a fairly lowly actor doing smaller roles and the odd juvenile lead.

"To be honest I can't remember a single play we did – they all tended to blur into one another. I seem to remember playing a lot of policemen and servants or the smooth lothario – which wasn't me at all."

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The one aspect of his stay at Lowestoft that remains in his memory was his romance and marriage with the leading lady Patricia Haines.

According to Caine this broke all the rules of the theatre. It was not unusual for actors to fall in love with one another but you had to remain within your station.

His relationship with Haines caused something of a scandal in the acting community of the time.

"I was 22 – she was 26 and I committed the cardinal sin of falling in love with the leading lady. I was terribly shy and a little overwhelmed. It took me ages to do anything about it. There was a sexual pecking order. Only the leading man could sleep with the leading lady.

"As the juvenile lead I should have concentrated my attentions on the juvenile actress but she had her fiancée down and we didn't really get on. Besides the fact, the longer I was there the more I realised I was in love with the leading lady.

"Anyway to cut a long story short, we fell in love with me confessing myself at a rather drunken party and it turned out that she knew all along. I was madly in love with her and pursued her into a disastrous marriage.

"After a while we packed our bags and headed for London. My other abiding memory of Lowestoft was that it always bloody cold. Whatever time of year it was, there was always a bloody cold wind coming off the sea. I'll never forget that."

He said that although he had always wanted to be an actor, he never wanted to be a stage actor. "I came from a generation that first saw actors on a cinema screen – not on the stage.

"Mind you I spent so long in the theatre learning my trade that I nearly became a stage actor – happily that didn't happen – but I always wanted to be in movies."

In latest film The Actors, Caine plays a pompous, second-rate, ham actor at a small theatre in Dublin.

"One of the reasons I wanted to do this film was because I recognised this character from my days at Horsham and Lowestoft. I based my character Tony O'Malley on every old character actor I had ever worked with. I must have known about 50 of these guys.

"They did the same old plays year after year and never realised just how dreadful they were. My character Tony O'Malley is a combination of all those people – totally pompous, vain but terrific to watch and fun to play."

The film co-stars Michael Gambon and Miranda Richardson as gangsters that O'Malley tries to rip off with the help of another young actor played by Dylan Moran. The pair work their way through desperate disguises as they try to stay one step ahead of the biggest scam since The Sting.

The Actors opens across the region on May 16.

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