Sir Michael Caine, Jason Isaacs, John Lasseter and Denise Ream talk about their love of Cars and London | The Fan Carpet Ltd • The Fan Carpet: The RED Carpet for FANS • The Fan Carpet: Fansites Network • The Fan Carpet: Slate • The Fan Carpet: Theatre Spotlight • The Fan Carpet: Arena • The Fan Carpet: International

Sir Michael Caine, Jason Isaacs, John Lasseter and Denise Ream talk about their love of Cars and London

Cars 2
19 July 2011

Star racecar Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) and the incomparable tow truck Mater (voice of Larry the Cable Guy) take their friendship to exciting new places in “Cars 2” when they head overseas to compete in the first-ever World Grand Prix to determine the world’s fastest car. But the road to the championship is filled with plenty of potholes, detours and hilarious surprises when Mater gets caught up in an intriguing adventure of his own: international espionage. Torn between assisting Lightning McQueen in the high-profile race and towing the line in a top-secret spy mission, Mater’s action-packed journey leads him on an explosive chase through the streets of Japan and Europe, trailed by his friends and watched by the whole world.  Adding to the fast-paced fun is a colorful new all-car cast that includes secret agents, menacing villains and international racing competitors.

We had the time of our lives yesterday at the Cars 2 press conference in London in the presence of one of Britain’s greatest and most treasured exports, Sir Michael Caine.

The weather was miserable but Sir Michael Caine, Director John Lasseter, Producer Denise Ream and actor Jason Isaacs were in great spirits sharing their laughs and loves for the second Cars film from Pixar. Michael Caine shared his amazement at his disbelief in the quality of Pixar’s animation, and Jason Isaac enthused about how he was so desperate to be in Cars 2 that he was willing to clean their windows at Pixar with his tongue.

So all in all it was a great day and we’re pleased to be able to share all the news from the press conference in our Cars 2 Q&A.



Congratulations John on 25 years of Pixar, did you ever think you would achieve that landmark and with so much success?

John Lasseter: Thankyou. At Pixar we always stay focused on each film we make as it takes about four years to make each one. As we started the first three films we started to make more films and our goal was to have one film a year, but it took us about ten years because we didnt want to have a drop in quality. We always try and stay so focused on our films and making great films and having fun making them. We actually missed our anniversary until someone reminded us! In 1986 we formed Pixar and primrily we were a technology company and in 1991 we made Toy Story and from 1995 on we were known as solely an animation studio but originally I was the only trained animator.


Denise we all know about John Lasseter’s passion for 3D, what’s your take on this element of cinema that is revolutionaising the way we watch movies?

Denise Ream: I was excited about the idea, I guess my only concern was that we take so much time crafting these films and taking so much care with the story that I didn’t want the 3D to take away from that. I’ve been really happy with the way our senior has dealt with the 3D aspect and I thinks it adds some depth and dimension but I’m with the way we dealt with it.


Jason I believe that when you were doing the voices for this film you were filming something completely different which must have made the process different?

Jason Isaacs: Yeah I was filming something else and the phone call came in and they said ‘John Lasseter wants…’ and I said ‘I’m in!’ I said ‘I don’t care what it is’. They told me it was Cars 2 and I said; ‘If they want me to go and clean the windows at Pixar with my tongue, I’m in!’ I’m such a massive fan of all of Pixar’s films, particularly John’s work and for all their technological background and John is a master storyteller which is the most important thing so I trusted them. They invited me to Pixar for the weekend and I’m such a techno geek and it was a massive wet dream for me. When I got there, there were story boards already done and they talked through them with so much passion and love and thats when I realised, it’s not just the attention to detail that makes these films so great but the love that goes into bringing these stories to the world. It was an absolute dream come true to see it for myself and I would still offer to clean their driveway with my tongue.


Sir Michael, you’re obviously an icon and in a position to pick and choose which films you want to do, what was it about Cars 2 that got you excited and made you say yes I’ll do it?

Sir Michael Caine: What happened to me was, it quite old age I suddenly had three grand children and I thought ‘they’re never going to see me in any movies for years, you can’t go see Harry Brown until you’re eighteen’ and I wanted to do something.
So quite out of the blue I was called and they said Cars 2, and I hadn’t seen any cartoons cause when you get you get to my age you sort of when you’re wondering around you don’t look at cartoons.

Now I spend my life watching cartoons with my grand children cause the biggest TV is in my office and they all come in there, they won’t watch cartoons anywhere else.

So I was interested, and they told me what it was, and it was Cars 2 and I ran Cars 1 and I was absolutely stunned cause I was thinking of a cartoon and for me a cartoon was Micky Mouse and Donald Duck and Bambi and Snow White which I knew the men drew, but the word cartoon didn’t seem to apply to this movie; I can’t think of any word that does. The Disney people told me it was an animated feature, which didn’t sound quite right either cause it’s better than that, so out there is a special word of what it is, and I saw Cars 1 and I was absolutely astonished by what they had done in there, I couldn’t quite figure it out, I’m quite up on computers, I’m not one of those old dodderers that doesn’t know, I know all about computers and all that modern technology.

But you see when John explained there were four companies, I suddenly went all hazy cause I had no idea what he was talking about. And so I have no idea how they do what they do or how they did what they did, but the picture i saw yesterday was so much more advanced than Cars 1. I sat there in absolute astonishment and also in 3D, I hadn’t seen a 3D film before.

There were other things that made me want to do the movie, ok so it’s grand children, but then I said what am i going to be? and he said you’re going to be a spy and I thought I started out as a spy as Harry Palmer in The Ipcress File early in my career and this films all about cars; I did a film early in my career called The Italian Job and it was all about cars, actors are very superstitious and I thought that’s a good omen. Then I suddenly thought what’s my name? and he said Finn McMissile, and I said great, that’s a great name, you know there’s going to be trouble; Finn McMissile someone’s going to get hit and then I said what sort of a car am I? and he said a 1966 pale blue Aston Martin, and I thought that’s the coolest car I have ever heard of. I didn’t read the script, I said I’ll do it. And I did it, and I saw it yesterday and I’m so glad I did.


Sir Michael, how is it hearing your voice coming out of a character that looks quite unlike you, what would your grand children think if they were to see it with you?

Sir Michael Caine: My grand children actually have the car and if you press the bonnet it talks. And my grand children don’t call me grand pa they call me Pa, and this is known as Pa’s car and the recognise my voice they’re under two and three.

For me, it’s what happens in the movie happens when you’re acting it. You watch the movie and you think oh were going to see a load of cars talking, but you gradually go in and it’s just like watching people. And when you start acting it you say I’m going to talk like a car, but you end up talking like a human being, and it’s exactly the same as playing a flesh and blood character, you do absolutely nothing different except you don’t meet any body, he’s on the computer on the other end telling you what to do on the television, and what happens is you do it for a few hours every couple of months, and I remember saying to John after he said you’re done for today, you’re finished, I said how long have I been doing this? he said two and a half years. I had no idea how long I had been doing it, what you need is Lasseter here because he can tell you exactly what he wants, otherwise you’re going to screw it up.


Have you ever come close to being invited to doing an animated character before?

Sir Michael Caine: I did Gnomeo and Juliet.


And before that?

Sir Michael Caine: Not before that, I didn’t have any grand children when I did that so I didn’t do it for them. I just did it cause Elton John’s a close friend of mine and David Furnish asked me and I thought it would be good to play a garden gnome.



Denise, who do you bounce ideas off of? Cause I think that’s a very important part of the Pixar philosophy to bounce ideas around to see where you are going right and avoiding going wrong.

Denise Ream: Well John and I we were collaborating constantly, and we were bouncing strategy off of each other. I was fortunate to have a really amazing team and to be honest to have a studio that was incredibly supportive and the producers there like Darla Anderson who produced the first film so she was really helpful.

I felt supported from day one, and then there’s my family. The collaboration of the two companies is very unique.


Sir Michael, are you on your second wind now that you’ve appeared in over 100 films?

Sir Michael Caine: I’m on my about fiftieth wind I am. No for me, if it came to it I’d retire, but in the movies, you don’t retire, the movies retire you. If you have no luck, and I’ve been very fortunate that I got into the position where I’m no longer the romantic leading man but I started out as a repertory actor which was playing a different part and my mentality is still that of a repertory actor and a critic, I’m my own worse critic and I keep looking for different parts which force me to become better and better. And I had never done a properly animated film, so this was against, also I had never done a film in 3D, not that it mattered with sound cause the voice is not in 3D, but for me, I just keep going until no offers come in.

The good thing with being an actor is that you never have to retire cause someones always got a movie with a part for a ninety year old bloke and you’ll get it. You don’t have to retire at sixty five, I saw in the paper people saying we got to work until we’re sixty six, and I’m thinking I’m seventy eight, what are they talking about?

The great thing about this movie is that I peg that I’m about thirty four and quite good looking with very heavy eyelids that I do have in real life.


John, were there any considerations made when voice casting?

John Lasseter: You know over the years, we unfortunately lost some of our friends, you know whenever we work with an actor they become family and friend, many time we have to find an actor that will sound like them, like Jim Varney who was the voice of Slinky Dog we lost him, so we had to re voice him and in Cars 2 we lost both Paul Newman and George Carlin and the structure of the story in Cars 2 about the rig oil and the alternative fuel. The Filmore character in Radiator Springs he’s like a hippie and he makes his own organic fuel, he was a really important character to have in the movie so we found a great actor who could sound just like George in his hippie dippie weatherman character so we re voiced him.

But Paul Newman was a different story, Paul Newman was Doc Hudson, he became a very close friend of mine and I was so inspired by him in our recording sessions on Cars 2, our recording sessions on Cars were almost like conversations and I would sit in the recording studio and just make sure they recorded everything he said. We would just talk about racing, and he was so passionate about racing and he was a great driver, you couldn’t get him to talk about acting at all but racing he could talk to you for hours. There was such passion there, and it kept informing me, overtime I had a session with him we’d come in and I’d tweak all the scenes with the Doc Hudson character in, and it kept becoming more and more like him and that’s why I say he was Doc Hudson and Doc Hudson was him. So when we were contemplating the movie, right away we said let’s just have a tasteful homage to the character and to Paul Newman, so we came up with the idea that the big cup that they race for in Lightning McQueen’s racing circle called the Piston Cup was renamed the Hudson Hornet Memorial Piston Cup in honour of Doc Hudson and they had turned hs doctor’s office into a Doc Hudson museum and there’s just a little moment between Mater and Lightning McQueen right at the beginning that was my little moment, my tribute to Paul Newman in the film.


Was the love letter to London in the last half hour of the film inspired by various trips and to the actors, why do you think the British make the best spies?

Sir Michael Caine: If you have a look, we are the best spies. Read the papers. (laughs)

I think we sort of invented that sort of thing years ago cause we were always a war like nation that needed information. The Secret service was invented at the beginning of the second world war, and we were alway very good at it, I don’t know why. I think being an island people we were very insular and so we wanted to find out everything and we did everywhere.

Jason Isaacs: I think we don’t say what we mean almost ever, from Jane Austen and that’s why the adaptations are so brilliant in that we say one thing and mean another and being utterly manipulative. I think one of the strengths and possibly weaknesses of Americans is that you know what they are thinking most of the time.

John Lasseter: When I finished doing Cars 1 we started travelling around the world,  I lived with it for about five years and I really had cars as characters kind of on my mind, answering questions and so on. So as i travelled around the world, everywhere I went to I sort of looked out the window and imagined what a car version of this city would be like, and I happened to be going to the places that had a strong automotive heritage be it unique automobiles or vehicles of some kind. I just kept seeing them as characters and wondering what they’d be like, especially London, and I’ve always loved London, I came here for the very first time in the summer of 1979 when I graduated from college; Cal Arts, I just never forgot being in the city with all the taxi cabs and the double decker buses and all the vehicles and everything was diesel engines. It had a particular sound to it, all the cars and the engines and it never got out of my head.

You guys live here so it’s all familiar to you, but when you come into London there’s something 100% unique about London and I love it and it’s something I really wanted to bring up, so we started thinking about the world grand prix and starting it in Tokyo and then going to Italy and we really wanted the climax of the film to be in London to show off all of the beautiful architecture in the car version of that, we had a lot of fun carifying London and talking a look at all of these landmarks, if you look closely there’s a lot of automotive details in the architecture, it’ll take you a few times to see all of the incredible details that have been put int the film. Part of it is just for fun, the fun of re imagining Big Ben as Big Bentley, and taking a look at columns and how with just a little tweak it looks like the grill of an old Rolls Royce, it was just great and our production designer Harley Jessop, he just went to town, he just had so much fun. The backgrounds when you look at the backgrounds when Mater is flying over London even the buildings in the background are clever in their automotive re imagining and you know it really is a love letter to each of the countries that we visit, it’s just fun.


For Sir Michael and Jason, what’s the coolest car you’ve driven or own or aspire to own?

Sir Michael Caine: For me, I grew up in the non car period which was the second world war, there wasn’t a lot of cars about, I grew up in the city of London which had the most fantastic transport system with taxis, underground and buses. So I never knew a person who owned a car until I was about twenty five years old.

The first car I ever bought was a Rolls Royce, and I couldn’t drive it so I said I’d learn to drive with my Rolls Royce and the insurance company said no you’re not, the premium was so high and people had to hire a chauffeur so I hired a chauffeur and I never drove again until I went and lived in Los Angeles and you have to drive in Los Angeles and so I took a test in Los Angeles and it was very weird the man before I took the test said the guy who will be taking your lesson is sitting outside in the car, you will only speak to him and say good morning, there will be no normal conversation, he will give you instructions and you will listen to him, there will be no personal interaction. I said fine, So I got in the car and the guy looked at me and he went I loved you in The Man Who would be King, you’re going to have to be shit to not pass this test. So at fifty i passed my test, but I’m not a very good driver cause I’m always thinking and my mind is always somewhere else. So I drove for twenty years until I was seventy and then I gave it up, and fortunately for all of you, I no longer drive.

But my favourite car would be a Rolls Royce, it’s the only car I’ve ever driven, I’ve only ever driven Rolls Royces, and I don’t even like them, I just thought that was what I was supposed to have when I was young and very flash.

My wife said to me, the first time I met you, you turned up in a Rolls Royce and a white suit, I said I wanted to be noticed, and she said well you got noticed. Anyway my history of cars as you can see isn’t very good, and I had a successful film called The Italian Job where I drove in that but it was just stunt drivers.

Jason Isaacs: Remind me to never follow Michael. My first car I saved up for in my gap year at university was a Talbot Horizon, and Jimmy Nesbit was heading off on a world tour and he gave me all his stuff, so I put his three bags into my car and then went off to a job and I came back and the council had took it and cubed it.

When Jimmy came up and asked me where’s all my stuff? I gave him the cube and said really sorry mate.

The car I always wanted to drive with Kris Kristofferson’s Ferrari Daytona from A Star is Born where Barbara Streisand had one of the most terrifying perms in film history, but the car was very cool.

The only car thing that I remember was when I did a film with Jackie Chan years ago called The Tuxedo, and we are sitting in the car one day cause we are waiting for them to clear the streets to do a car chase at something like forty miles per hour, and they’ll double the speed afterwards which I hadn’t done before. Jackie said I hate all this, we don’t do this in Hong Kong, we don’t clear the street, if we crash we pay people money.


Recently we’ve seen the Bond series reborn with Daniel Craig as the title character, how would you feel if they did the same with Harry Palmer where a younger actor is playing the role that made you a superstar?

Sir Michael Caine: I love the younger actors taking on the more physical roles, I like to stand around and give orders, that’s all I do. I’m Alfred the butler in Batman, I just serve dinner, I don’t do any of the flying about.

I’d never thought of it actually, there was one Len Deighton novel that we didn’t film with a great title and it was set in Paris and it was called An expensive Place to Die, and if they remade that I would start with that novel first and work backwards.

There was a film that I first did when Shirley McLaine took me to America called Gambit, and it’s interesting whose remaking that; The Coen Brothers with Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz now that could be a far superior remake to the original with that calibre involved.



Cars 2 Film Page | Sir Michael Caine Profile | Jason Isaacs Profile