British actor Michael Caine has announced he is retiring from acting after a career spanning eight decades. The actor, whose real name is Maurice Micklewhite shared his plans in an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today show, saying: “I keep saying I’m going to retire. Well, I am now.”
Caine’s comments come a month after he told The Telegraph he was “sort of retired” and days after his final film, The Great Escaper directed by Oliver Parker, was released on October 6.
“I’ve figured, I’ve had a picture where I’ve played the lead and it’s got incredible reviews,” he told Today. “The only parts I’m likely to get now are old men, 90-year-old men, maybe 85. And I thought, ‘Well, I might as well leave with all this – I’ve got wonderful reviews. What have I got to do to beat this?’
“You don’t have leading men at 90, you’re going to have young handsome boys and girls.”
Caine's award show successes
Caine’s body of work encompasses more than 160 films. Throughout his career he has been nominated for an Oscar six times and ultimately winning twice, first for Hannah and her Sisters in 1986 and then for 1999’s The Cider House Rules – both times he won for Best Supporting Actor.
His performance in the 1983 hit British film Educating Rita won him a Bafta and Golden Globe Award for Best Actor.
From the 1960s to the 2000s, he and Jack Nicholson were the only two actors nominated for an Academy Award in every decade.
Appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1992 Birthday Honours list, Caine was also knighted as Sir Maurice Micklewhite in the 2000 Birthday Honours list by Queen Elizabeth II for his contribution to cinema.
From crime capers to comedy
One of the new wave of male British stars who broke out in 1960s swinging London, Caine counted acting luminaries Terence Stamp and Peter O’Toole among his peers.
Some of his most famous films include Zulu, Alfie, The Italian Job, Get Carter, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Inception, as well as the role of butler Alfred Pennyworth opposite Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne in Christopher Nolan's trilogy of Batman films.
Fans also frequently cite his turn as Ebenezer Scrooge in The Muppet Christmas Carol as a favourite.
Turning his hand to an array of roles from comedy in Miss Congeniality to hard-nosed vigilante in Harry Brown, he calls his role in 2015 Youth, in which he starred opposite Harvey Keitel, the “best thing” he’s ever starred in.
“Secretly, with myself, I regarded it as the best thing I ever did,” he told 60 Minutes. Adding that although the movie “was the most difficult” performance of his career, “I made it look the most easy.”
Here are six of Michael Caine’s best performances …
Caine played the titular Alfie Elkins, a womanising London playboy, who is forced to confront the consequences of his actions following a series of failed relationships.
Oscar-nominated for Best Actor, Caine frequently breaks the fourth wall to speak directly to the camera, with his final line: “What's it all about? You know what I mean,” becoming one of the most memorable in film.
The Italian Job, 1969
One of the British Film Institute’s top 100 British films, Caine stars as Charlie Croker who, upon his release from prison, puts together a team to steal $4 million in gold bullion from a security convoy in Turin, Italy.
From the Mini Coopers to the theme tune – Self Preservation Society – and the unforgettable lines (“Hang on a minute, lads, I’ve got a great idea”), the film, and Caine’s performance, remains a cinematic standout.
Educating Rita, 1983
Caine stars as Dr Frank Bryant, a self-confessed “appalling teacher”, whose life and jaded outlook are given a boost when Julie Walters’s Rita becomes one of his students.
In turns heart-warming and filled with disillusionment, the film follows the pair’s evolving relationship as their eyes are opened to what it is they’re both trying to escape from.
The Muppet Christmas Carol, 1992
The actor stars as Ebenezer Scrooge in this Muppet version of Charles Dickens’s classic tale, A Christmas Carol, playing the miserly old man with plenty of disdain.
In a career filled with films geared towards adults, this is a rare child-friendly outing for the star.
The Cider House Rules, 1999
Caine won his second Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role of Dr Wilbur Larch in this adaptation of John Irving’s classic novel.
In his review, film critic Roger Ebert wrote: “Michael Caine's performance is one of his best.”
Batman Begins, 2005
Starring as Bruce Wayne’s loyal butler Alfred Pennyworth, Caine was offered the role after Anthony Hopkins turned it down.
Caine brought a toughness to the part of Pennyworth, who, while aware of Wayne’s secret alter-ego, was not afraid of telling his boss the truth.