Actors in new movie Going In Style share words of wisdom

To shoot the movie’s hilarious low-speed chase, Morgan Freeman (left, with Michael Caine) had to sit in a basket all day.
To shoot the movie’s hilarious low-speed chase, Morgan Freeman (left, with Michael Caine) had to sit in a basket all day. PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE PICTURES

Actors Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin, who star in the film Going In Style, are not letting age stand in their way

Oscar winners Morgan Freeman, 79; Michael Caine, 84; and Alan Arkin, 83, say their secret to staying youthful is maintaining friendships - and having lots of sex.

The stars gleefully dispensed this and other pearls of wisdom while chatting recently to The Straits Times and other press about their film, Going In Style, which opens in Singapore today and sees them playing retirees-turned-bank robbers. Directed by Zach Braff, it is a lighthearted remake of a 1979 movie of the same name.

The veteran actors were in a playful mood as they bantered with one another.

What is the secret to staying young? "Sex," says Freeman, who has four children and two ex-wives.

"You try 'no sex', you'll be old in no time," pipes up Caine, who is married to actress and model Shakira Baksh, 70, and has two daughters - a 43-year-old with Baksh and a 60-year-old from his first marriage.

Pressed for anecdotes from the set, Freeman - who took home a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Million Dollar Baby (2004) - says: "There was one moment... but I've forgotten all about it."

"The movie we did... what's it called?" quips Caine, recipient of the same award for Hannah And Her Sisters (1986).

But a recollection from Braff about filming the movie's hilarious low-speed chase, where Freeman and Caine flee from a security officer in a motorised shopping cart, suggests they do not like to let age hold them back.

The 42-year-old director says: "I'd prepared by having stuntmen there and thought they were going to have to do the whole thing, but these two guys did almost every single shot in the entire sequence - driving the carts through the streets with all that mayhem and skidding out in front of a bus."

Arkin, winner of a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Little Miss Sunshine (2006), notes that it was no mean feat for Freeman to fold his lanky frame into the cart and stay there for most of the day.

"It took 50 years of training, including Morgan's dance training, to be limber and agile enough to be sitting in that basket all day long and not need a chiropractor for seven days after," says the actor who has two sons, 56 and 60, and is married to therapist Suzanne Newlander, 63, his third wife.

While the film makes full use of the cast's comedic talents, it also has a more serious message about social inequality and prejudice against the elderly.

Braff, the star of the sitcom Scrubs (2001-2010), says: "We wanted to make a comedy, but how could you make a movie about seniors in 2017 and not discuss some of the issues that are going on?

"One of the few things both parties in our country agree on is that seniors aren't treated as well as they should be; that the banks have never gotten any comeuppance for what happened in 2008; and you go broke if you get sick in this country."

The film is also about the importance of friends. Braff says: "The core is these three men together. It's about the fact that no matter what age you are, it's about the friends you have around you and friendship and love."

The actors' own friendship made the set fun but chaotic, much like their press interviews, the director says.

"It was this funny. At first, I was very intimidated because of who they are, but in a few days, it was this: they were all cracking one another up, they were laughing - you see how they are together."

He observes that Hollywood overlooks stories about older people. "One of the special things about this film is there are not a whole lot of films being made about and for older folk. But there's a huge audience for these movies."

Caine says the industry may finally be waking up to this.

"I read an article about how people were making more films about older people, and older people were going to see them. And the start of it was The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012), which made US$140 million, and it didn't have Brad Pitt in it or anything."

When producers looked into why it did so well, "they found out that people of older age were fed up of watching television and were now going back into the cinema", he says, adding that since then, there have been more films made about older people and these, too, have done well.

The stars would love to see Going In Style join this list and do well enough to become a franchise.

"I'll do Going In Style 4 if I'm still here," says Caine. "We'll do the last one in wheelchairs."

  • Going In Style opens in Singapore today.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 20, 2017, with the headline 'Golden trio living large'. Print Edition | Subscribe