Michael Caine Talks ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ & Alfred’s Backstory

Published 4 years ago by , Updated June 21st, 2011 at 2:55 pm,

Michael Caine Alfred Dark Knight Michael Caine Talks The Dark Knight Rises & Alfreds Backstory

Earlier today we had the opportunity to participate in a video press conference with Sir Michael Caine at the Los Angeles press day for Cars 2 – the globetrotting sequel to the popular Pixar tale. Caine plays the British secret agent (embodied in a sleek Aston Martin) Finn McMissile in the film.

The actor lamented his inability to attend the press event (and this evenings premiere) for the film which he so enjoyed making.

I wish I could be there,” he told director John Lasseter “but I’m doing “Batman and they wouldn’t let me go.” Lasseter spoke for The Dark Knight fans when he replied “No, no we want you to do Batman! We’re all big Batman fans and Alfred fans.”

There is a distinct air of mystery surrounding The Dark Knight Rises and Nolan likes to keep plot details as close to his chest as possible, but Caine did provide journalists with a tease of what we may expect from the film (if we choose to extrapolate on his words).

In two words or less — broken limbs.

When asked how production was going, Caine said:

“It’s fantastic. I started filming last week and I film next week. As the butler, I do a load of filming at the beginning, and everybody goes off and does all the adventures and they all come home shot to pieces and I patch them together when they all get back. Christopher Nolan, I think, is one of the greatest directors in the world and I’ve been lucky enough…this is my fifth movie with him. It’s such a pleasure to work with him and he’s so clever. We’ve all signed the Official Secrets Act. I’m lucky to be able to tell you the title of the movie. I remember I did an interview and someone said to me, “What are you doing next?” I said, “I’m doing Batman.” I saw Chris and he said, “Why did you tell them you were doing Batman?” I said, “Because I am.” He said, “You’re supposed to keep it secret.” I said, “I couldn’t keep that a secret.” Let me tell you…the plot is extraordinary…really extraordinary. I know why he wants to keep it a secret. You really need not to know till you see the movie.”

michael caine in christopher nolans the dark knight Michael Caine Talks The Dark Knight Rises & Alfreds Backstory

The actor also gave those in attendance a fascinating look into his process – and some of what he has imagined as Alfred’s back-story. It seems that in Caine’s mind the butler was a shattered soldier who’d all but lost his way when he joined the Wayne family.

“I’m a method actor, I’m Stanislavski and all that stuff, there is a back-story to my character. For instance, I play Alfred the butler in “Batman” and I wanted him to be a tough butler, and I wanted him to be an ex-soldier. The voice, the voice is the first Sergent I ever had. Because I was a soldier, and I had this voice of this Sergent and that’s his (Alfred’s) voice. And I always imagined him to be SAS — which is our special forces. He was wounded, and didn’t want to leave the Army, and went to work in the officer’s mess behind the bar, and Batman’s father came in and he saw him and said, ‘Would you like to be trained as a butler?’ And he said yes, and he went with him to America and was trained as a butler and that’s his back-story.”

Caine’s gritty interpretation of Alfred’s history seems to seamlessly meld into the darker vision that Chris Nolan has created for his Batman franchise. From what the actor expressed about the film in today’s conference (and what we know about Bane as a character) we imagine a heightened dose of raw brutality in this third, and final, installation in the series – when The Dark Knight Rises opens in July of 2012.

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  1. Is this the spillover from the Green Lantern forum?

  2. Damn everyone in the cast keeps saying that Nolans got a treat for us. I wonder how good this movies gonna be :)

    • One can only hope that its better than TDK to the same degree that TDK was better than any movie ever

      • Like.

      • Really? Better than The Deer Hunter, Citizen Kane, 2001 A Space Odyssey, Apocolyps Now, The Godfather, Goodfellas? Your intitled to you opinion but TDK in my opinion is far from the greatest film ever.

        • The problem with your post is that you think he’s literally saying TDK is “the best movie ever,” when he’s clearly being hyperbolic, and saying he really loves TDK.

          • “To the same degree that TDK was better than any movie ever”

            There’s nothing wrong with my post at all. He stated it,whether or not is was hyperbolic or not, it is what he said.

            • There’s a huge difference between him saying it and meaning “literally the best movie ever,” and him saying it in a way where he’s trying to emphasize how much he loves TDK, but not being literal. You responded as if he was being literal, which he wasn’t.

              • And you know this for fact? Do you have regular conversations with him about his favorite films? You can state this with the up most certainty? Even if he was I can respond and bring up a barrage of films I find are far better if I want to.

                • ^^^^This Guy^^^^

                  • Ha!

                    • I love TDK, best movie ever. This site is getting out of hand. Go watch some Green Lantern and then tell me how much you don’t like TDK being called a good movie

        • apocalypse

          • Grammar Nazis and hardcore Nolan fanboys. It’s a sick sad world we live in.

            • You need a comma between “sick” and “sad”.

        • yep I think it’s better than all said films. citizen cain… pffft

        • Did you just say that 2001 is one of the greatest movies of all time? I seen it awhile ago and had to turn it off because all I heard in 45 minutes was “beep… beep… beep…” IMO thats even farther away from greatest movie ever then “Bio-Dome” with Polly Shore…

          • I didn’t say 2001 is the greatest movie of all time I said it was better than TDK. Which it is IMO. See all trolls seem to miss that I pointed out that if that’s his OPINION that’s fine but in MY OPINION there are a lot better movies. Get it through your thick skulls and read the whole damn comment.

            • But you said that 2001 is better then TDK, and in my opinion, Shaqs “Steel” and ANY Polly Shore movie is better then that crap… TDK didnt have 45 minutes of beeping and didnt “star” one guy…

              • IMO

                and i did read your comment

                • *throw not through.

                  • Ouch, comparing 2001 to Steel? I get what you are saying and agree for the most part. 2001 was an amazing movie for the time though. You cant really say that it was that terrible of a film. Moon to me was an updated version somehow, someway. Not really the same in terms of message or intent but similar set up/plot. I would rather watch a good movie that came out last year over a good movie that came out twenty years ago. I love The Shining and Clockwork and Full Metal but I really only need to see films once. The Dark Knight was awesome. Best movie ever? Far from it.

                    • I dont think TDK was the greatest ever, but IMO, its better then 2001…

                      Moon did star one guy and it was a kick ass movie, but it also didnt have 45 minutes of beeping from a computer that tossed this guy out of the ship and in the vaccum of space SOMEHOW turned him into a baby…

            • I think what needs to be said is dude, whether you are right or wrong or he is or isn’t being hyperbolic, you’re more interested in pissing on people’s celebratory remarks to dominate the conversation with typical film snobbery.

              • Bradley,

                I’m not pissing on anyone’s celebratory remarks. Anyone who says TDK is “Better than any other movie” is bound to get someone who says different. If I were to say ‘Avatar’ was “Better than any other movie ever”, I would get a ton of replies saying different. If you wanna label it film snobbery, fine, I’ll just assume you’re a Batman/Nolan “Fanboy”.

                Seriously you guys need to get over the fact that some people think TDK is overrated.

                If you can’t look at my original reply as nothing but an insult, which it wasn’t at all, then I don’t know what to tell you other than to get over it.

                • Yeah, see… this “Nolan Fanboy” stuff is spewed rather liberally by those who seek to issue divisive challenges on a thread. Its that particular stance that weakens the legitimacy of one’s proposed intentions.

                  Also, I recognize that there are flaws in Dark Knight, and as a Batman fan I find it a bit too restrained and grounded. Also, I’m more a Hitchcock fan then a Nolan fan. So looks like you might want to reign in your suppositions.

                  • Film snob is also spewed every time someone says TDK is overrated or uses older movies such as the listed ones above. I find your last comment to be hypocritical.

                    • I’m a bit of a film snob myself, but I have learned over the years that its better to wait for someone to agree with me rather than attempt reverse another poster’s observation about something they love because it almost always ends badly.

                    • Bradley,

                      My intention was not to reverse ones opinion. Merely pointing out that there are lots of other great films in the many of thousands that I personally find to be better films. So if it came across like that, which I don’t think it did, that wasn’t what I was doing.

                    • Yeah, no. He is right, you are being a jerk. You feel like your opinion is superior and you literally go out of you way to lump people together and separate yourself from others. Why should we stop feeling or thinking the way that we do because we all like a movie? You are telling us that there are other good movies so we should not find this one to be all that good? I am an idiot most of the time but you sir are just being ignorant

                    • Why is it that people label us Nolan fanboys because we like a couple Batman movies? or because we think that even though they are comic book movies they might stand the test of time or are capable of keeping up with any original story or movie that is put out in recent history? People try to insult us for liking Nolan. Nolan is a great film maker. He has done amazing things with Batman and has shown us that the general public and fanboys can be pleased with his product and get us to pay for it.
                      I find it funny that even though we like these movies we do not give Nolan all of the credit and we do not associate these movies with his other movies. Do we group Inception in with Batman Begins or TDK? I truly do not understand why it is an insult to like a Batman movie made by Nolan. Better story telling, character development, characters, setting, extended realism, quality. The only bad that I find in Nolans Batman films would be Bales Batman voice and even then I feel petty for complaining about that.
                      Maybe Nolans Batman films arent The Green Mile? Pulp Fiction, Scarface? but by comparison and in all fairness we are talking about a franchise that has had live action for years. Multiple movies, several video games, novels, action figures, and we are surprised that even though they may not be the best movies they just may be the best comic book movies made to date? We shouldnt be comparing Batman movies to Kubrick or Scorsese films. We should be comparing Batman to Batman and comic book films.
                      I personally feel like Nolan is a great film maker. Right up there with Aronofsky and Snyder and Tarantino and anyone else that we have hanging out at the top. You might disagree but please take into account the fact that one of these directors names associated with a movie that you would not typically be interested in might gain your interest. Has Nolan done anything amazing other than these films? I do not think so.
                      I don’t get why liking Nolans take on Batman is a bad thing. All I really read and hear is that we simply like it too much. People are just saying “I can’t believe that you like that movie it is so over rated.” Ok, well then dont watch it. You are going to tell us that it is not as good as you were led to believe that it is so you are angry?
                      Shut, leave me alone.
                      I try to be fair and logical. I try to give people a chance. I love to argue. I love talking about movies. I am not going to get offended if you don’t agree. There are movies that I like that I know are bad. I can tell you why I like them and I could probably tell you why you don’t like them before you say a word.
                      Nolans Batman films are superior to anything Batman on film that I have been provided with in the last twenty years and I am not going to cry about it if people like the movie more than me. You obviously liked the movie enough to see it or write about and if not I dont know why you are on the internet crying about it.
                      Why try so hard to discredit people and their opinions? I get yours and I am sorry but you seem to be more biased than thinking for yourself like a lot people here. Perhaps that is not exactly the case and you are not going with the majority but I do have a lot of friends that will simply dislike something before experiencing or sampling something for themselves because others like it so much

                  • @ Bradley

                    I agree with Sully311. You’d be surprise at how many people realize now how TDK is overhyped till this day. I assume you know why that is mostly. I enjoyed TDK but wouldn’t go as far as others claim as to sayin it was so close to perfection or best comic book film ever made. Imo till this day, there never has been & i doubt there ever will. I actually liked Batman Begins more than TDK. But anyways i believe people exaggerate how great TDK was. Alot of people liked Super 8 more than i did when i thought it would be better by all the hype it got before it’s release but i still thought it was good film & im not tearing it down.

                • Sorry, but did you seriously think of coming on a Batman thread and think that there’d be people that don’t like The Dark Knight posting on it and bassically troll and say that there are better films than it? :/

          • “VIVA LOS BIO-DOME”… u’re comment rules!

        • Just to throw my 2 cents in here I have to say I can’t stand The Deer Hunter. Every other movie you listed in your post I have seen multiple times and love but I have given The Deer Hunter numerous chances but I nod off every time. Oh well, can’t love them all.

        • There are plenty of movies TDK isn’t better than, but among those movies it is more entertaining than many.

      • “You talkin’ to me? I said, ‘are you talkin’ to me?’”

  3. I like the backstory of Alfred being in the SAS. Not sure of Wayne showing up and saying, hey, be my butler. Maybe He hired Alfred initially to be head of security for Wayne Manor or to do some security work for Wayne Enterprises. Then Alfred retires and stays on as Wayne’s butler.

    • Butler is a much different job in the UK than we perceive it here.

    • From what I’m reading, that’s not an official backstory. That’s Caine’s own acting method, finding an inspiration for how to play Alfred. Almost all actors do something similar when they tackle any character.

      • it said he was wounded and became a cook in the mess hall thats a cook in the military cafeteria. what would you rather be a wounded ex sas being a cook or a butler to a billionaire…

  4. Wow! I did not know Alfred was tough like that in the past. That really makes him a true father figure for the bruce wayne character. I really really really cant wait for the first trailer :)

    • In the Dark Knight Alfred tells Bruce about that story of him in the jungle tryin to find the thief, so yea, that back story fits.

    • Yeah, it’s a nice part of Alfred’s character that most people overlook. Even in the comics until recently… Alfred became the leader of the Outsiders after Batman went missing for a while.

    • As looper and Phil point out, this backstory meshes well with Alfred’s movie life AND his comic book life.

      Alfred, in the comics, actually WAS in the military (in fact…I’d have to go check this, but I think he may have even done some covert ops work). THAT is the reason, he’s able to handle Bruce’s mission AND his nightly injuries with such aplomb.

      Alfred really IS a very cool character, and Caine seems to be right on the money with his motivation.


  5. Michael Caine. What can you say. A great actor to be sure.
    And at this stage it can be said one of the all time greats.
    Michael has never given a bad performance and that
    is a trait shared only with the truly great actors.

    You have never let me down, Sir Michael.
    Whenever your name is on the marquee
    you can depend on me to see you.

  6. I Disliked the Dark Knight. To this day I refuse to watch it. I saw it ONCE in the theaters and was totally turned off by the movie, Aaron Eckhart as Two-Face, was dull as was Maggie what’s her name as Rachel Dawes. Best part of the movie was Heath Ledger. PERIOD.

    • lol

  7. Why did you tell them you’re doing batman?

    Cause I’m freaking Michael Caine and I’ve been making movies before you were born and everyone would know eventually anyways.

    That’s how I would of answered Nolan :).

    • @ Sully311

      Is it me or does Nolan look like a mob boss himself in that pictured w/ Michael Caine & Christian Bale above?

  8. i hope DC doesn’t reboot the batman franchise anytime soon (like it was suggested a little while back), it would totally ruin nolan’s master piece and hit them (DC and WB) hard b/c it wouldn’t be as good as nolan’s batman and would piss off alot of people.

    seeing as how green lantern is gonna flop (not by alot but enough for them to cancel a sequel… or post pone it for a couple yrs), i dont think they’ll reboot BM anytime soon. i’m talking about rebooting for the sake of the justice league movie (if its ever gonna happen), b/c apparently nolan’s batman is to ‘grounded’ for the justice league.

    • I think that they plan to boot the batman franchise right after The Dark Knight Rises comes out, to help line up with the Justice League movie. I personally think rebooting is good for the genre.

      • We all know that there will be a reboot. Different actor and director equals reboot so I feel like they will simply replace these people and keep the over all tone that has been working for them. They will find a way to make it work but a Justice League movie? Not going to happen anytime soon, just my opinion. You can argue you with me about what I think but please try not to attack me personally. I just enjoy talking about movies and sharing my thoughts with like-minded people

        • Sorry about my many typos, I am trying to improve. I never cared about typos because I always assumed that people would get what I was saying but now I find that I am torn apart or discredited because of the errors that I accidentally, unknowingly make. Sorry and please dont hate me because I dont do second or third draft posts. I am trying to improve on them though.

  9. For my self i feel,
    Those Nolsn Batman Movies are totally over hyped !

    There are not bad movies at all but over rated !

    But sure and luckily everybody has his own mind :)

    • @ ios

      I agree with ya,only it’s mostly TDK that’s over-hyped imo which i assume people know why. Im one of few who enjoyed Batman Begins little bit more than TDK. But everyone has their opinions.

      • to me the only real highlights in TDK where the moments with the joker. alot of the movie dragged on, the rachel character was boring/weak, the ending with 2face was boring and sloppy, same as the action, which was poorly choreographed and brief.
        we’re talking about batman, the guy that’s a black belt in multiple fighting styles and has been trained by a clan of ninjas (going off the movies adaptation), he should fight more fluently and swiftly. instead we got gravel voice doing the cha-cha in a parking lot (the only memorable fight scene in the movie).

        on that note, the training scene in BB was short and very brief, and the action in both movies was poorly done, i sincerely hope nolan’s stepped his game up for the grand finale ;)

        if nolan wasn’t so egotistical he would hire a proper choreographer for the fight/shoot-out scenes in his movies.

        • Yea that would be my one gripe. Theres somthing about the way he does his fight scenes that are brief. I want to see batman getting down like a Bourne film or the new Bond films. I do understand his fighting style in the films though i cant remember the name for it.

          Its meant to disarm and take his opponents down fast and permanently. Just no one poses a challenge to him. thats what makes the scenes so dissatisfying. Thats why im happy Banes in this film. cant wait to see how it turns out.

          • Its called Keysi Fighting Method

            • its also based off of Jeet Kune Do which is the martial art that Bruce lee created.

  10. I, too, don’t believe The Dark Knight was as great as everybody makes it out to be, because I think it accomplished exactly the same thing as the Iron Man movie did.

    They both proved that superhero comic film-making could be made into serious dramas that did not immediately register as being based on comic books. Although, I do think the Dark Knight took it farther though, because Iron Man ended with a very cliché battle, whereas TDK was suspenseful right to the end.

    I liked both movies, but I wouldn’t call either one the greatest movie of all time.

    Still very unusual to see two movies like that do the same thing almost at the same time, though. And neither movie was very like each other, to boot.

  11. I just watched TDK again on TNT the other day, havent seen it for a while. and man I gota say that movie is so close to perfection its scary. Every single scene and word is flawless has a serious yet tense tone it the whole way through. And of course heath as the Joker was on another level. You really have to apreciate how amazing he was as the joker every scene he was in was astounding. we r so lucky to have been graced with Chris Nolan and crew for what I think will go down as the single best batman interpretation ever.

  12. Absolutley love Michael Caine and can’t wait for the dark knight rises! I’m a huge Tom Hardy fan and cannot wait to see his interpretation of bane


  14. I can’t wait to see some grade A acting from Bale, a desperate and frustrated mess, crippled on the floor. oh yes

  15. shame he couldn’t attend the cars 2 premiere but he is needed elsewhere Caine along with Connery has never done a bad movie (i’v seen) if anyone hasn’t seen harry brown yet i highly recommend it and as for his acting method i had a sort of idea of his Alfred’s back story from the way he played it in the first 2 movies and i cant wait to see how he deals with bruce when/if he does get broken

  16. First, Michael Caine is both an amazing actor and a consummate professional. His professionalism to his job demands great respect from actors everywhere! Now for some ranting…!

    1. Speaking of backstory, how did Ra’s Al Ghul find out who Bruce Wayne was at the beginning of Batman Begins? And why did he track him down to the prison? What was specific for Ra’s about Bruce? Yes, the indirect association of the fact that they created the weapon that killed Bruce’s parents: economics. But what else??? It’s not as simple as: Ra’s found out that this Gothamite named Bruce is new to town and he’s pissed and he’s rich and he’s a natural fighter… There’s something we are missing!

    2. Via Ra’s Al Ghul’s connections to the mob (established in BB), The League of Shadows (Talia I’m assuming) knows that the Joker was succeeding against the Batman. But with him out of the picture now, TLoS surmises they must send in someone who has both the Joker’s wits and the Batman’s brawn: Bane. Meanwhile, does Bruce spend time assuming that the Joker was sent by TLoS? Possibly.

    Personally I believe the Joker had nothing to do with The League of Shadows. Though the League of Shadows possessed something that the Joker desperately wanted: the Batman’s identity. In The Dark Knight, the Joker was obsessed not only with chaos, but in forcing the Batman to expose his identity. TLoS could have used this as a bargaining chip, and we may have seen some of that in TDK via his interactions with the mob.

    So after BB, TLoS is stuck with the problem of having this broken arrow (the Batman), and possibly some vengeance if Talia is directly involved.

    3. Which brings me back to the to where I started. What is it about Bruce that sparks Ra’s interest? The answer may be the tie that binds the forthcoming Batman back to the beginning.

  17. Well one thing’s for sure none of the actors would dare say anything bad about any director they work with after seeing the fate of Magan Fox. They all started kissin so much ass it’s not even funny lol. :P

  18. Why is it that if someone like TDK people need to point out the good in it and then go on to say that it is over rated? We all know why it is consider such a big deal. The Joker is the best part of the movie and the guy playing the Joker died from being a junkie and he was supposedly a junkie because he was trying so hard to be a “method” actor? Is that the word I was looking for?
    Batman Begins was a better film than the second but the second was good. I could have done away with the female character, she just makes Bruce look like a …human being? She does some how contribute to two face arc, becoming a nutty half alive burn victim. All she is really there for though is to die.
    People who like the second movie see the faults in it. Why do people attack people for liking a movie of this caliber? More than half the people here are saying “hey I do like this movie but I do think that it is over rated.”
    In terms of comic book movies it is as serious and as good as it gets. Just my opinion but that is coming from someone who could care less about Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, and DC.
    I am sick of Batman movies, Superman etc…take that how you want to. I like comic book movies when it comes down to it. I grew up with my least favorite comics being made into movies and now I am older and I am overly saturated with comic book movies in general. I still know a good movie when I see one and I still know a better comic book movie when I see one.
    I am a Marvel fan but is Iron man as good as Batman Begins? Is Thor as good as TDK? Can I take any of the Spiderman or X Men movies as seriously as I do the Batman movies? I feel like the Nolan Batman movies could actually be better if they were not jaded by fanboys and so much history. I am going to bed.
    Goodnight fellas.

    Ps…are there any girls here? I find that these websites help me with my relationship because it prevents me from running my mouth to her about comics and movies that she doesnt care about. I would like to know if any girls actually read this or care. That and I wonder how many of us are married, have children, or live with our parents.

  19. Mann i can not wait for this movie to come out. Im deff gonna see this in imax. I read some updates on Nolan using some new hi-def imax cameras. PPl said is going to blow the dark Knight out of the waters!! =]]]], ahhhhh so excitedd

    • We can only hope, that’s a big feat!

  20. I’m curious as to how this film will handle some of the more fantastic elements that we’ve been seeing, but I have faith that the Nolan brothers can do it.

  21. Everbody be cool… You be cool… The Dark Knight Rises will be the most awesome action film ever. Nolans Batman series are some of the finest action films ever. A lot of action movies don’t have enduring viewing appeal and their luster fades away quickly. I’m finding this with most of the Marvel comic book movies. Thor was horrible. Fantastic 4 was horrible. The Hulk movies, well we got a 3rd Hulk if that tells you anything. Iron Man well just doesn’t have the staying power either. Die Hard ever since it came to blu-ray I just can’t get the fake boot feet Bruce Willis is wearing out of my head. So fake I see so much that is fake and now Speilberg is going to leave wires and crap in his movies on blu-ray. Oh no…

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