Michael Caine announces retirement from acting at age 90


British actor Michael Caine has announced his retirement from acting at the age of 90. Photo: AFP

Veteran British actor Michael Caine, a Hollywood icon with a decades-spanning career littered with awards and acclaim, revealed on Saturday (Oct 14) that he has retired from acting at the age of 90.

The Oscar-winner bows out following another widely-praised performance in his final film, The Great Escaper, which was released on Oct 6.

In it he plays real-life World War II British veteran Bernie Jordan, who escaped from an elderly residential care home to attend 2014 D-Day celebrations in France.

“I keep saying I’m going to retire. Well I am now,” Caine told BBC Radio 4‘s Today programme.

“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.”

A prolific actor known for his amiable Cockney persona and deadpan acting style, Caine has appeared in more than 160 films during his seven-decade career.

Possessing one of Hollywood’s most recognisable – and imitated – voices, he has long enjoyed iconic status in Britain, where he became a defining face of the so-called Swinging Sixties.

His filmography includes classic films ranging from Zulu and The Italian Job to more recently appearing in Interstellar and The Dark Knight franchise, alongside Christian Bale.

A six-time Oscar nominee – who has won two Academy Awards, in 1986 (Hannah And Her Sisters) and 2000 (The Cider House Rules) – he has also earned Golden Globes, BAFTAs and numerous other gongs.

He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000.

Caine’s acting retirement announcement comes a month before his first novel, Deadly Game, is scheduled for release.

He revealed in June that it had been a long-held ambition to write a thriller, noting it is the genre he most enjoys reading.

Born Maurice Joseph Micklewhite in 1933 – to a fish-porter father and cleaner mother – the eventual star chose his stage name in tribute to his favourite movie The Caine Mutiny.

He left school at 16 and held a string of odd jobs before serving in the Korean War, only turning to acting after being discharged from the army.

Early starring roles included as working-class spy Harry Palmer in the 1965 Cold War drama The Ipcress File and a year later as womanising Alfie Elkins in Alfie.

In 1971, he played gangster Jack Carter in the gritty mobland flick Get Carter alongside another pin-up of the time, Britt Ekland, cementing him as a household name in Britain.

Prior to that, 1969‘s The Italian Job allowed Caine to deliver one of his most memorable – and often quoted – lines.

“You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off,” his character Charlie Croker says, as his rag-tag team prepares for an audacious gold bullion robbery in Milan.

The 1983 comedy Educating Rita saw him praised for his portrayal of a jaded university professor, while he featured in The Muppet Christmas Carol in 1992 as a singing and dancing Ebenezer Scrooge.

Some roles failed to impress, but Caine remained unrepentant.

“I have never seen it but by all accounts it is terrible,” Caine once said of Jaws: The Revenge – voted the sixth worst summer movie of all time by rottentomatoes.com.

“However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific,” he added. – AFP

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