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The Actors (2003)

Michael Caine and Dylan Moran team up to blur the lines between acting and reality

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 91 minutes

UK Certificate: 15

Michael Caine could well be the most versatile British actor of our time, handling practically every role thrown at him with no less than typical aplomb. But here's an idea: what if he has to actually play – wait for it – an actor?

In “The Actors”, Caine gets the chance not only to play a struggling and slightly bitter thespian, but also to display his not-inconsiderable comic talent (having made us chortle heartily in both “Goldmember” and “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”, it hardly comes as a surprise that he knows how to produce a laugh or three).

Caine is weathered stage performer Tony O'Malley who, having failed to convince the theatrical world to let him perform Hamlet “without the vowels”, hatches a far-fetched scheme to make his long-awaited fortune. Having heard that local swellguy Barreller (Michael Gambon in a ridiculous wig) owes some serious mullah to a big-time gangster, O'Malley persuades bit-part actor Tom (Dylan Moran) to put on the performance of a lifetime in order to snatch the loot for themselves.

It's perhaps a tad ironic that at one point Caine's character yells “don't ever upstage me again” to an on-stage colleague, given that he is largely upstaged in this flick by Moran. Not because Caine isn't his usual solid self, but because the impressive Moran largely gets the best scenes and funniest scenarios to work with. Moran's impressive range of characters and accents will strike a chord with Mike Myers fans, whilst Lena Headey – probably best known for “The Parole Officer” – is on good form as the inevitable love interest. Particularly impressive is young Abigail Iverson as Tom's niece Mary, who's more than a tad reminiscent of the worldy-wise little sister in “Gregory's Girl”.

Though each member of the impressive cast in “The Actors” has done better before and undoubtedly will again, it does possess several genuinely funny moments and has an enjoyable storyline, if not the best of scripts. And, on a personal note, I like to think that the false nose donned by Caine in his stage scenes is meant as a subtle dig at the undeservedly acclaimed acting in “The Hours”. But that's probably just me.

It's Got: Michael Caine dressing up in drag and proving once and for all that he would make one seriously unattractive woman.

It Needs: More screen time for the terrific Ben Miller, who pops up only extremely briefly.


An above-average Brit-comedy with a superb but largely under-used cast.