Q&A: Freeman, Caine and Arkin on aging as actors

First Published      Last Updated Apr 06 2017 03:13 pm

Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin would, if they ever sat still long enough, make a respectable Mount Rushmore.

One could hardly find a more formidable trio of such overwhelming character. Their voices, alone, are utterly unmistakable. Put together Arkin's streetwise Brooklyn accent, Caine's nasal Cockney cadence and Freeman's deep Mississippi timbre and you'd have the most colorful radio play ever assembled.

Or you would have "Going in Style," a new old-guy buddy-comedy opening locally Friday that teams the contemporaries (Caine is 84, Arkin 83 and Freeman 79) for the first time. In this remake of the 1979 comedy with George Burns, Art Carney and Lee Strasberg, the three play retired factory workers who, after having their pensions taken away, decide to rob a bank.

Freeman and Caine have made a few movies together (the "Dark Knight" films, "Now You See Me") and are friendly. But as Caine points out, there are divisions. Freeman lives in Mississippi and Caine in London. "And he's a golfer," Caine says. "I can't play golf. I was great friends with Sean Connery until he learned how to play golf on 'Goldfinger.' I never saw him again."

So all the more reason to appreciate a rare assembly of three legends, who during a recent interview most enjoyed themselves by trading "Casablanca" lines. Of all the gin joints in the world. …

You seem to have had fun making this.

Caine: It's one of the most enjoyable pictures I ever made.

Freeman: I'm reticent to say this but it's the absolute truth: When you're working with people whose work you venerate, it's really almost always a very satisfying experience. Don't tell everybody I said that.

So there weren't any arguments over billing?

Freeman: Well. …

Arkin: You've got nothing to complain about!

Freeman: We wouldn't. It's agents who would do that. I don't care.

Caine: I don't care. It's the money.

Is this film, in a way, a vision of your own lives if you hadn't found the movies?

Caine: When I became an actor, I was working in a butter factory, loading butter from the factory onto the trucks. If I'd have spent 60 years doing that, I'd have drunk myself to death.

Arkin: There was no choice for me. I had to act or kill myself, and I don't think I killed myself.

You've each gotten better as actors with age. Morgan, you didn't really start in movies until you were almost 40.

Freeman: People say always to me, "Your career didn't get started until very late." I say that's probably propitious. When you start having success, particularly in movies and in a lot of places onstage, drugs start coming your way. I thought: Boy, if this had happened when I was younger, who knows? There were a lot of young guys who were just dead. What's the reason for that? Too much too soon.

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