Blatantly cut and pasted from the Time Out website:Paul Buchanan
was born on April 16 1956 in Edinburgh. He is the singer and songwriter in The Blue Nile
, formed with Robert Bell and PJ Moore in Glasgow in 1981. In 25 years they have released four albums of minimalist melancholia, attracting numerous critical superlatives. The band is currently on hold, but Buchanan returned to live performance for the first time in a decade earlier this year.
I like his real name: Maurice Micklewhite. That’s a good start. And I like his attitude to working: ‘First of all I choose the great roles, and if none of these come, I choose the mediocre ones, and if they don’t come, I choose the ones that pay the rent.’ And I love the fact that he fell in love with his wife when he saw her in a Maxwell House advert – isn’t that brilliant! He tracked her down. He thought she was Brazilian and lived in Brazil, but it turned out that she was Indian and that she lived in Fulham. So off he went. And when he got his first car, he couldn’t drive, so he just got a Rolls-Royce and a chauffeur. What I’m basically saying is that I wish I was Michael Caine.
There is a brilliant scene in one of the Harry Palmer movies: these two hoodlums are harassing a black woman on the tube, and when he’s getting off, in a very low-key manner, he clobbers the pair of them, but he’s still got on his immaculate coat and the specs. There is a bit of me that likes that about him. He’s a man. I remember being obsessed by the fact that Harry Palmer would go home and drink Blue Mountain coffee – I remember thinking that that’s what it must be like being grown up: you have your own place and a particular brand of coffee that you like.
Caine, in a way, embodies that time when you thought London was unspeakably hip, you know, when The Beatles
were around. I like that era, generally. He’s a good representative of London, because a large part of his sexiness is firmly rooted in exactly who he is, which is Maurice Micklewhite from Rotherhithe. He also has an amazing voice – very modulated. The inflections are very peculiar to him, but he has somehow made that London accent sexy and sophisticated, because he’s got charisma.
I like his mix of absolute capability and compassion. Even in ‘Get Carter’, you are very aware of the fact that – despite who he is and what he does – there’s something else going on. He made that film because he said that movies portrayed British gangsters as either cartoons or stupid, and it’s not like that. He really manages to convey an internal life and background to this character that is diametrically at odds with what he’s doing. I like that combination. He’s way beyond the action hero. When he does something it doesn’t seem cartoonish – it seems genuinely either brave or violent, rather than it being obvious that the camera is four feet away and Vin Diesel’s torso is having baby oil rubbed on it for reasons nobody is entirely clear about!
You never get the slightest feeling of affectation or pretence off him, especially as he’s got older. Even in ‘Hannah and Her Sisters’, when he is the victim of his own emotions, he manages to portray that very lightly, I think, without veering over into Hugh Grant territory. He’s got major presence but with almost no movement. He once said, ‘Be like a duck: calm on the surface but always paddling like the Dickens underneath,’ and I think that captures his quality of stillness. And he is fantastic at listening onscreen – just watch his face when someone is saying something to him.
He’s been responsible for some amazing films: he’s brilliant in ‘The Italian Job’. I watched the remake the other night in slack-jawed disappointment. ‘Alfie’ was a fabulous but deeply sad film. ‘Get Carter’ is uncompromisingly British, but artistic as well. I have, admittedly, also seen ‘The Swarm’, probably because I just couldn’t be bothered to get up from the sofa.
I actually passed him in a hotel once in London. I just thought he looked fantastic. He wears a good coat, I must say. I’ve even seen him wearing a camel coat and pulling it off. He’s a film star because he’s someone people want to look at. It’s part of the funny transaction between actors and the audience: you know that you’re going to see Michael Caine, and even though you’re watching the drama and following the narrative, you’re always watching him as an individual as well.
He gives off a fundamentally good, capable vibe. There were a few lean years before he made it when he thought it just wasn’t happening, and you can see that in his acting. He seems self-possessed and yet self-deprecating. There’s something reassuring about Caine – he doesn’t give off any surliness whatsoever. You don’t get the feeling that he’s kicking up a dreadful fuss in the trailer. It’s not about that. I like to think he is basically a good guy who has done great work. And you know, it’s pretty stylish to marry the girl out of the coffee advert.