Michael Caine: The original Austin Powers
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Michael Caine plays the role of Austin's father Nigel Powers in "Austin Powers in Goldmember." In real life, the seasoned actor is a true Hollywood heavyweight whose distinguished career has brought him two Oscars and knighthood.
Caine joined CNN anchor Bill Hemmer on Friday to talk about his not-so-distinguished role in "Goldmember" and the similarities he bears not only to Austin Powers himself, but to Mike Myers' real-life father.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: You play a lot of serious roles. Is it different for you to hop into a film like this?
MICHAEL CAINE, ACTOR: Oh yes. It's wonderful because you spend your whole time trying not to go over the top and be absolutely real. In this movie if you don't go over the top, you look like a ninny. ... So I went right over the top and thoroughly enjoyed myself.
HEMMER: Truth be known, you are Austin Powers.
CAINE: I am, yes. When [Austin Powers] first came out [the film depicted] a spy in the '60s with glasses and I thought "that's Harry Palmer in the 'Ipcress File.'" [Caine played Palmer in the 1965 spy film.] And so it was. When Mike sent me the script, he sent me a great letter with it telling me why I should play his father.
HEMMER: So when you saw the first film of Austin Powers...
CAINE: I knew immediately who he was doing. The only thing I didn't like was the teeth, because my teeth are alright [in the "Ipcress File"] -- and we had to wear those teeth [in "Goldmember"]. The first time I wore those teeth, I had a scene where I had to shout at him and the teeth went across the room like a bullet. We had to stick them in. It was very uncomfortable.
The real Powers, the real Myers Sr.
HEMMER: Mike Myers wrote you a letter. Is it true that he says you remind him of his father?
CAINE: Yes, very much so. I'm the same age -- Mike's father is dead -- but I'm the same age as his father would have been. I'm from the same era. All this Austin Powers is a homage to Mike's father secretly. It's a tribute to his father, and I was one of his father's favorite actors. And so I'm one of his father's favorite actors, I'm the creative father of Austin Powers because I played Harry Palmer in the first part. So I figured I'm not only good for the part, I'm the only guy who could play the part.
HEMMER: But it was that letter that had an impact on you when [Myers] wrote to you ...
CAINE: Oh tremendously. Yes, because I didn't understand his relationship with his father and the relationship with these movies and this period. Mike is a very serious man. He's very funny on the set, but [if ]you have dinner with him, it's quite a different story.
I have a very special relationship with Mike. I'm a surrogate father.
HEMMER: Some critics say this is stupid humor... toilet humor. I kind of like it myself.
CAINE: You know I do. I thought it was funny, yes. My thoughts on it: people think it's silly. But they don't realize how clever Mike Myers is and what he's doing. I mean I'd put him up there along with Peter Sellers and Alec Guinness as a comic actor. He writes this stuff.
HEMMER: You really do like this humor, don't you?
CAINE: It breaks me up.
HEMMER: Why do you think it strikes such a cord?
CAINE: Because it's so outrageous and [Myers is] doing things that no one else will do. One of the funniest sequences I've ever seen in movies is towards the end where he and Mini-Me are getting ready for a medical examination and they are behind a screen, which is transparent, but they don't know it. And there's something very innocent is going on. But when you see it from the doctor's side through the screen, it looks terrible. And it's one of the funniest -- I was in hysterics in the cinema. It broke me up.
HEMMER: You're still laughing.
CAINE: Yes, I still laugh when I think about it.
HEMMER: More Nigel Powers characters in the future? Would you do it if asked?
CAINE: I'd do it in a minute. It's up to Mike.
HEMMER: I got to think you're in his favor though.
CAINE: Yes, I am.
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