Belfast Telegraph

Caine was shy says African prince

An African prince who starred in the classic movie Zulu has described how the film's star Michael Caine was just a shy young actor on set.

Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who played his great grandfather King Cetshwayo kaMpande in the film, said he was quite self-effacing despite his prominent role which made him an international figure.

The Zulu prince will be joining guests in London's West End for a special 50th anniversary charity screening of the movie, now digitally remastered, at the Odeon Leicester Square on Tuesday night.

The film dramatises the events at Rorke's Drift where the British Army famously battled Zulu battalions in January 1879.

It tells the story of the 150 British soldiers, many sick and wounded, who took on 4,000 Zulu warriors - with their efforts earning 11 Victoria Crosses.

Buthelezi, who is a South African politician, said: "For Michael Caine that was his big debut, he was the main actor along with Jack Hawkins.

"I didn't exchange many words with him but my impression was of a young man who was a bit shy - he looked shy to me."

Caine's acclaimed portrayal of Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead in the 1964 movie saw him quickly cast in two of his most famous movies Alfie and The Ipcress File.

Speaking about starring in the movie the Zulu prince said: "Well it was something different from the daily routine, it was interesting, it was a couple of weeks where I was on the set doing the part they wanted me to play.

"It takes some licenses but there wasn't anything too garbled, they portrayed what happened at Rorke's Drift and they stated they wanted to show the bravery on both sides.

"The director of the film chose me really because they wanted me to facilitate getting more extras for the battle scenes.

"But it was only when they saw me, and saw the family resemblance that they wanted me to play the part. It was something different for the Zulu people, we were just ordinary Zulus."

Organised by Suzannah Endfield Olivier, daughter of the film's director Cy Endfield, the screening aims to raise funds for three organisations.

Walking With The Wounded, which raises funds for the re-education and re-training of wounded servicemen and women; Sentebale, co-founded by Prince Harry to help disadvantaged children in the African Kingdom of Lesotho, and The David Rattray Memorial Trust which educates children in schools in remote areas of KwaZulu- Natal.

Michael Caine, now Sir Michael, is not able to attend but has recorded a video message which will be played to the audience.

Edward Parker, co-founder of Walking With The Wounded said: " Walking With The Wounded is hugely honoured to be a partner charity for such a special evening.

"When we partner with organisations holding fundraising events we are incredibly grateful as this helps us to raise significant funds to retrain and re-skill our wounded. We are looking forward to the screening of such an iconic film."

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From Belfast Telegraph