Michael Caine

"I'm getting offers I can't refuse," reports a buoyant Michael Caine. As the lead in Phillip Noyce's brooding The Quiet American, Caine is thrilled to again have top billing after years of stealing the spotlight in supporting roles (Little Voice, The Cider House Rules).

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He plays a jaded British journalist in 1952 Saigon who gradually comes to realize that the goofball bureaucrat trying to steal his girl may be a CIA operative. When asked whether Brendan Fraser's cunning doofus is misguided or sinister, Caine replies. "Well, misguided fools become sinister, don't they?" Potentially an Oscar nominee for Quiet. Caine addresses the film's questionable timing and anti-Americanism in an era where guilt about Vietnam has gone out of style, "It's only anti the people who got you into the war," says the Korean War veteran.

Now costarring with Haley Joel Osment and Robert Duvall in Secondhand Lions, which Caine jokingly refers to as Grumpy Old Texas Bastards, he says that Osment does not seem to bear any scars from losing a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for The Sixth Sense to Caine for The Cider House Rules, nor was Caine chagrined at losing a Best Actor Oscar for Educating Rita to Duvall for Tender Mercies. Says Caine: "I would have only been upset if I'd lost to a daft performance."

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Joe Queenan



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