Michael Caine has confirmed his retirement at the age of 90, drawing to a close a glittering career in which he won two Oscars.
After his comments last month that he was “sort of retired”, Caine made it official, telling the BBC’s Today programme: “I keep saying I’m going to retire. Well I am now.
“I’ve figured, I’ve had a picture where I’ve played the lead and had incredible reviews … What am I going to do that will beat this?”
Caine said he wanted to end his film career, which has spanned seven decades, on a high note: “The only parts I’m liable to get now are 90-year-old men. Or maybe 85. They’re not going to be the lead. You don’t have leading men at 90, you’re going to have young handsome boys and girls. So I thought, I might as well leave with all this.”
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He had previously spoken about his plans for retirement and had hinted that The Great Escaper would be his final film.
But it is hardly the first time a Caine film has been billed as his last appearance, with Harry Brown in 2009 and Best Sellers in 2021 both described as such. And this announcement comes a month after he told the Guardian that he would play Charles Darwin in a film due to be shot next year.
In The Great Escaper, Caine plays Bernard Jordan, a real-life Royal Navy veteran who made headlines in 2014 when he left his care home in Hove, East Sussex, alone to attend celebrations in Normandy for the 70th anniversary of D-day.
He stars alongside Glenda Jackson, who completed filming months before her death in June, and John Standing, who plays the fictional role of a former RAF pilot he befriends on the ferry.
Caine and Jackson first worked together on the 1975 film The Romantic Englishwoman, and Caine said that while they got on, he didn’t share her leftwing politics. Jackson was a Labour MP for more than two decades.
“She is a very leftwing politician. And she’d like me, but she wouldn’t want to mix with me socially. Because I was obviously wealthy and everything, and not a spitting socialist,” Caine said, adding that he had voted for Tony Blair.
He has previously spoken of their political differences, telling the Guardian last month: “I’m all for making money because I come from a very poor background.”
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Caine told Today he had turned down a role after filming The Great Escaper: “I was sent a script actually, and I looked at it, and then I did something I’ve never done before. I counted how many pages I had, compared to the number of pages in the script,” The role he was offered included 15 pages of dialogue in a 99-page script, he said.
“I thought, I think that counts as a small part, I’m not doing it. So I retired … I thought, I’m ahead here, I may do a little part and get a bad review … so I thought, why not leave now? So I’ve left.”
One of the best-known and loved British film stars of the past 60 years, Caine has appeared in more than 130 films, including Zulu, Alfie, The Italian Job and Sleuth.
He won supporting actor Oscars for his performances in Hannah and Her Sisters and The Cider House Rules, and more recently has collaborated with the director Christopher Nolan.