Michael Caine confirms retirement from acting after The Great Escaper

Sir Michael Caine has confirmed he has retired from acting, following the release of his latest film.

The 90-year-old screen legend stars in The Great Escaper opposite Glenda Jackson, who completed the film months before her death in June.

Sir Michael has previously indicated his intention to retire but has often been tempted back.

But he said: “I keep saying I’m going to retire. Well I am now.”

He added: “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?”

The Great Escaper sees Sir Michael portray Bernie Jordan, a real-life World War Two veteran who made headlines in 2014 when he escaped from his care home to attend D-Day anniversary celebrations in France.

The Guardian’s review said Sir Michael delivers “a gruffly heart-breaking performance” in the film, while the Radio Times added he “plays his role with complete dignity”.

But Sir Michael said the likelihood of fewer parts being offered to him in old age has ultimately prompted his decision to retire.

“The only parts I’m liable to get now are 90-year-old men. Or maybe 85,” he joked to presenter Martha Kearney.

“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.”

The star acknowledged he turned down his last film three times before finally saying yes, because he already considered himself retired.

Sir Michael Caine and Glenda Jackson filming The Great EscaperIMAGE SOURCE,PATHE
Image caption,

Glenda Jackson completed filming on The Great Escaper just months before her death in June

Sir Michael, whose credits include Harry Brown, Educating Rita, The Italian Job and Hannah and Her Sisters, recalled a particular role he considered after working on 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,” he explained.

“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.”

He added: “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 Jackson, who was also a Labour MP for many years, previously worked together nearly five decades ago, on the 1975 film The Romantic Englishwoman.

But, he explained, the pair did not socialise outside of working together due to being of different political persuasions.

“She is a very left-wing politician,” Sir Michael said. “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.”

He did, however, note that he had voted for former Labour prime minister Tony Blair, who was in office for a decade from 1997.

“I voted for Tony Blair, because after all I’m working class, and I thought he’ll get something done for the working class,” Sir Michael said.

The actor is also due to publish a novel next month, a thriller titled Deadly Game.

Asked how he is finding old age, he replied: “I’m still grabbing every second even though I’m 90.”

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