Blowing the Bloody Doors Off
Author: Michael Caine
Release: October 23, 2018
Tagline: And Other Lessons in Life
Publisher: Hachette Books
Synopsis: With brilliant new insight into his life and work and with his wonderful gift for story, this is Caine at his wise and entertaining best.
Declassified by Agent Palmer: “Blowing the Bloody Doors Off” Completes Michael Caine’s Trilogy with Life Lessons
Quotes and Lines
…as I’ve got older, I’ve been reflecting on my life, as older people often do.
I wanted to look back on my life from Elephant and Castle to Hollywood, and from man-about-town Alfie to Batman’s butler Alfred, with all its successes and all its failures, all its fun and all its misery and struggle, its comedy, its drama, its romance and its tragedy, and find, among it all, the lessons I’ve learnt and want to share, not just for aspiring movie actors but for everyone.
Learn what you can from what you get
I can’t recommend bunking off school to anyone who wants to get on in life, but if you are going to do it, you couldn’t find two more richly educational surrogates than the cinema and the public library.
Forget rich and famous: find what you love
This might sound funny coming from me. But to anyone who’s trying to become rich and famous, my advice is: don’t.
…my biggest piece of advice to anyone just starting out–or to anyone who feels like they’ve taken a wrong turn along the way–is this: find something you want to do and learn how to do it really well. Take what you’ve got and make the most of it. Learn how to do something. Whatever it is you would choose to do for nothing. Whatever it is that, when you’re doing it, makes you feel amazing and most yourself. Throw yourself into it. Challenge yourself to be the best you can be. We can’t all be famous actors. But if you can find something you love, and if that something will also pay the bills, you will be on your way to your own personal paradise.
You are always auditioning
Know what you convey
Whatever your walk of life, at work or in your personal life, don’t let your image imprison you. Don’t let how others see you decide what you can be. But be realistic: know what you convey, and use that to your advantage.
You never know where your break will come from
There is no one sure route to success. No single rule to follow, no single book to read, no one bus stop to get spotted at. Instead success comes, for the lucky few it comes to, from a magical mix of talent, hard work, determination and sheer dumb luck.
So I was lucky. And “be lucky” is, I realise, not that useful as a life lesson. But I’ve heard it said that luck favours the prepared and I believe it.
There is no such thing as an overnight success. Behind every apparent overnight success is some poor bastard who’s been slogging away, unnoticed and unappreciated, for years.
If you’re going through hell, keep going
IF YOU MAKE IT in your universe, it’s because you keep doing enough of the right things. It sounds simple. It is simple. really.
Success comes from doing.
…the best way to do a lot of good work is to do a lot of work. Don’t overthink it. Don’t agonise. Just go ahead and do it, and enjoy it, and learn from it.
It’s the small time experience that adds up to the big-time ability.
If you do it right, preparation is not in any way opposed to spontaneity. It actually allows you to be spontaneous. When you are prepared, you are able to subdue your fear, control your nerves, channel your energy and enter that state of highly alert relaxation that is spontaneity’s best friend.
Do your research
Somehow it is much easier to change one well-planned course of action for another precise course of action on the spur of the moment than it is to turn a vague idea into a concrete one.
Be like a duck
Ducks look calm as they glide along the surface of the water but they’re paddling like hell underneath.
There are times for all of us when we elect to be less than fully authentic to fit in, but when you can, take pride in being precisely yourself.
In life, we don’t listen blankly to someone else making a speech with no thoughts in our head, simply waiting for them to stop so that we can say our piece. And we don’t interrupt every time we do have an interesting thought. Or if we do, we won’t end up with many friends.
I do like to laugh. I remember Roger Moore, years ago, saying to me, “Cheer up. You’d better have a good time because this is not a rehearsal, this is life–this is the show.”
My point is, in my experience, the best directors, like the best leaders in other industries, achieve great things by gathering the right people around them, then trusting them to get on with what they do best, giving them a quiet nudge whenever they need it to keep them on track. That approach tends to make everyone–actors and crew–do their best work: happy, productive and tremendously loyal.
“It’s a very difficult job and the only way to get through it is we all work together as a team. And that means you do everything I say.”
And, of course, there are the critics: the professional critics who have a job of work to do, and the people who are just out to put you down. That is all part of living a very public life. Everyone is going to have an opinion about you, and some of those opinions will be expressed quite woundingly.
The important thing here is to try to stay tuned in to people whose opinions matter, and to try to ignore those whose opinions do not–whether they’re singing your praises or kicking you in the balls.
I like to say, when you reach the top, that’s when the climb begins. By all means take some deep breaths and try to capture the view in your mind’s eye. Find the perfect spot to sit and eat your sandwiches. But then what? However perfect the spot may be, just sitting there for ever isn’t an option. So you either head back down, or consult the map and strike out along the ridge line for that other peak just barely visible in the distance. Even when you think you’ve finally made it, you aren’t going to stop, are you? You’re going to carry on. So you’d better make sure you enjoy the journey.
Success is a fleeting moment.
There are people who are able to say, “That was a disaster,” without saying, “I am therefore a failure.” And there are people who cannot.
(I own hundreds of chill-out CDs and I’ve even made one of my own, Cained)
Don’t be frightened of failure. I have found failure to be a great teacher, whose lesson is “Don’t do that again.”
The only way to be sure you never fail is never to do anything at all. And the only way to really, truly fail is not to learn from your failures. Any time you learn from a failure, it’s a success.
“I’ve grown old without understanding how I got here.” Youth, 2015
I stay young by refusing to be old.
I regard the family as the greatest organisation ever created by human beings.
John Osborne urged us to Look Back in Anger but I prefer to Look Back in Joy and to Look Forward in Hope.
In the end if I could give you one bit of advice, it would be that: find what you love, and do it as well as you can. Pursue your dream and, even if you never catch it, you’ll enjoy the chase.