Sir Michael Caine, one of the most recognizable faces in Hollywood history, has declared his retirement from acting at the age of 90. This decision comes hot on the heels of the release of his latest film, “The Great Escaper,” where he shares the screen with the late Glenda Jackson, who completed her role in the movie before her passing in June.
Sir Michael had hinted at retirement in the past but had always found himself tempted back into the spotlight. However, in a recent interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today program, he unequivocally stated, “I keep saying I’m going to retire. Well, I am now.” His rationale was simple yet poignant, as he reflected on his illustrious career, stating, “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?”
“The Great Escaper” showcases Sir Michael in the role of Bernie Jordan, a real-life World War Two veteran who made headlines in 2014 by escaping from his care home to attend D-Day anniversary celebrations in France. Critics have hailed his performance as “gruffly heart-breaking” and one that he played “with complete dignity.”
One of the reasons for this retirement decision, as Sir Michael explained, is the likely scarcity of lead roles for actors of his vintage. He humorously quipped, “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.”
Sir Michael’s journey to retirement was not without a few last-minute twists. He revealed that he had initially turned down his last film three times before reluctantly accepting it, primarily because he considered himself retired even before taking the role.
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Reflecting on his recent scripts, he amusingly recounted a unique decision-making process: “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. And it was 15 pages of dialogue in a script which was 99 pages. And I thought, I think that counts as a small part, I’m not doing it. So I retired.”
The accomplished actor, known for his roles in films like “Harry Brown,” “Educating Rita,” “The Italian Job,” and “Hannah and Her Sisters,” hinted at leaving while still on top. He mused, “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.”
Sir Michael and Glenda Jackson had previously collaborated almost five decades ago on the 1975 film “The Romantic Englishwoman.” However, they did not socialize beyond the realm of their work, primarily due to their differing political beliefs. Sir Michael revealed, “She is a very left-wing politician… she’d like me, but she wouldn’t want to mix with me socially. Because I was obviously wealthy and not a spitting socialist.” Nonetheless, he acknowledged voting for former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair due to his working-class background and hopes for the working class.
As he steps into retirement, Sir Michael Caine is not one to rest on his laurels. He is set to release a novel next month, a thriller titled “Deadly Game.” When asked about his perspective on old age, he responded with a resolute spirit, saying, “I’m still grabbing every second even though I’m 90.”
With a career spanning decades and a legacy that will continue to inspire, Sir Michael Caine bids adieu to the silver screen, leaving behind a treasure trove of timeless performances.