Michael Caine’s Screen Acting Tips and Demonstrations

April 16, 2015

It’d be hard to miss Michael Caine; he has appeared in over 115 films, and is one of only three actors who has been nominated for an Oscar at least once in five consecutive decades (the others being Jack Nicholson and Laurence Olivier). And as of 2014, he has appeared in four films–Alfie, Hannah and Her Sisters, The Cider House Rules, and Inception–that were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. And heck, in 2000 he was even knighted by Queen Elizabeth ll in honor of his contributions to cinema. Caine has weathered both his share of flops and great critical successes, and he’s learned a lot along the way.

Here is an hour long class lead by Michael discussing a number of worthwhile tricks of the trade in regards to film acting.

At one point he shares with his students, “Once you’re in front of that camera, nobody exists, nobody, except the other person in the scene. And what we do, we actors who are in the movie, we hang on to each others’ eyes. That ‘s the most important thing in film: Eyes.” Being that eyes are so critical in film acting, he both informs and demonstrates how to most powerfully use your eyes to communicate authority or weakness, and how to draw in audiences more closely.

Caine talks about how small shifts in facial expressions and slowing down your words can make a world of difference on camera. “The camera is like somebody who loves you deeply… because it will love you forever in spite of the fact that for the rest of your career…you ignore it,” as long as you maintain eye contact with your scene partner and listen closely to what he or she is saying.  A theater producer once gave Michael advice that he never forgot. When his character was merely listening to another character’s lines, the producer enlightened him with the enormous potential that the act of listening can hold: “Of course you’ve got things to say. You’ve got wonderful things to say. But you sit there and listen, think of these extraordinary things to say, and then decide not to say them. That’s what you’re doing.”

Ultimately, Caine asserts, “Movie acting is relaxation. It’s easy. If you are knocking yourself out, you’re doing it wrong.”

Michael can be seen currently in the action thriller Kingsman: The Secret Service alongside Sofia Boutella, Samuel L. Jackson, and Colin Firth. And if you’ve got an hour, Michael’s positively reviewed lecture is well worth the time.