London (AP) – Michael Caine has been looking back, and on the whole he likes the view. Regrets? He’s had few.
The 85-year-old star of “Alfie,” ‘’Get Carter” and “The Dark Knight” — among many, many others — reminisces fondly in “Blowing the Bloody Doors Off,” whose title adapts a line from his 1969 heist caper “The Italian Job.” The book is part memoir, part advice manual for aspiring actors and anyone else nursing an elusive dream of success.
Most of the advice is resolutely old-fashioned. Learn your lines. Work hard. Be nice to people. And be lucky. Caine knows he has been extremely fortunate.
“The luck I’ve had, you couldn’t make it up,” Caine said during an interview in his riverside London apartment. “I mean, even once I was a success, I made a lot of flop movies. But I only made three at a time before I had a hit.”
In print and in person, Caine describes his success as sequence of lucky breaks. His first big movie break, as a British Army officer in “Zulu” in 1964, was followed by a role as a world-weary spy in “The Ipcress File.” On the back of that came his breakthrough as a callous man-about-town in “Alfie.” That film made blond, bespectacled Caine a symbol of Swinging London, brought him American fame and earned him the first of six Academy Award nominations.
He went on to win two Oscars — for “Hannah and Her Sisters” and “The Cider House Rules.” Later came a stint as butler and mentor Alfred in three Batman movies directed by Christopher Nolan. Along the way, he became an icon, and his signature glasses and Cockney accent spawned a thousand imitators.
Caine says his optimistic outlook is rooted in his hardscrabble early years. Born Maurice Micklewhite into a working-class London family, he was a child during the London Blitz and later, as a teenage conscript, was sent to fight in the Korean War.
“I have found it pretty easy to be happy since then,” he notes in the book. “Once you’ve been on maneuvers in Korea, everything else seems like quite a lot of fun.”
When he returned to London and a dead-end job in a butter factory, Caine resolved to be an actor, although he had little idea how to go about it.
The 60s made Caine a star, and he wasn’t alone. Suddenly, he writes in the book, “everybody I knew seemed to become a household name.”
Caine enjoyed fame, when it came, but also worked extremely hard, at one point making 12 films in four years. The result is a resume of more than 100 features, of varying quality. Caine is cheerful about the low points, films like schlocky shark sequel “Jaws: The Revenge” or “The Swarm,” a disaster movie in both senses of the word.
Of his recent films, he’s proudest of Italian director Paolo Sorrentino’s “Youth,” in which he played an aging orchestra conductor.
“I don’t play the leads in movies now — I’m too bloody old to be getting up every morning at half past six,” he said. “I just take little character parts and have a bit of fun.
“You don’t give up movies — they give up you. And while I get these parts, I’ll keep doing them.”