Many people would think that the pinnacle of any acting career is picking up the odd golden statue, or grossing a certain amount of millions at the box office. However, the greatest achievement any actor can grab is being the most distinguishable voice in the room, so much so that people want to try and mimic your voice. When you think about it, someone trying their hardest to impersonate you must be the grandest accolade of all, as the old adage goes, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”
One man who has had his fair share of the above golden moments as well as being endlessly imitated is Michael Caine. The esteemed British actor, who found fame in films such as Get Carter, Italian Job and Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, has long been the subject of terrible impersonations, who all try to capture his authentic cockney accent, only to fall down and sound like Dick Van Dyke as a market seller. Below, we’re looking back at the moment Caine himself had a go at mimicking Michale Caine.
The opportunity for Michael Caine to reflect on the endless reem of attempts to impersonate his voice arrived as he sat down with iconic UK TV personality Michael Parkinson for a spiralling interview. “Your voice is the most impersonated in history, isn’t it?” asks the acclaimed interviewer, already knowing the answer, in fact, already likely lining up his own valiant but ultimately misguided attempt. Meanwhile, Caine accepts the accolade with a knowing glint in his eye.
“Oh yeah,” Caine replies, “I can do it.” After the briefest moments of encouragement from Parkinson, Caine quickly kicks into gear and develops the kind of imitation that, ironically, everyone he’s heard attempt his voice lacks. Sounding like an alligator with marbles in his mouth, the actor says, “Hello, my name’s Michael Caine,” in typically squirrelly fashion. The room, naturally, erupts.
In Britain, the single line: “Hello, my name’s Michael Caine,” is synonymous with not only his career but the entire British film industry. Once a small part of his iconography, the saying was chucked into the collective consciousness by Paul Whitehouse on his and Harry Enfield’s sketch show The Fast Show.
With Whitehouse at the helm, the impersonation is naturally very good, but following the aforementioned line with “and I’m a nosy neighbour,” then hearing the Caine character detail the events of his street while getting more and more irate means Caine’s voice quickly became a running joke.
Back on Parkinson, as the laughs die down, Caine continues, “wait, I’m not finished yet ‘not many people know that'”. The floor erupts one more. “I sound like this bloody moron, I mean, ‘my name’s Michael Caine’ [laughs] You know where they’ve got me now? On bloody birthday cards!”
He continues to receive rapturous applause from the audience as he laments his impeccable career and the crowning achievement of being perhaps the most recognisable voice in British entertainment.