Skip to main content

Michael Caine

No more movies, I’m writing a novel

Michael and Shakira Caine in Beverly Hills, 1984. Paul Harris/Getty Images

Recently, Michael Caine was sent a script that had his character sprinting away from a gang of crooks. The very idea was laughable, the 88-year-old actor tells Xan Brooks in The Guardian – I’ve got a gammy leg and a dodgy spine. “I can’t walk, let alone run.” Still, after 75 years in show business, Caine has starred in more than 150 movies, won two Oscars and received a knighthood. “I think I’ve done enough.”

Now he has turned to fiction – he wrote his first novel over lockdown. Due out next year, If You Don’t Want to Die is a thriller: “I’m not trying to replace Shakespeare here.” He is still making tweaks – “Paragraphs, punctuation, all that” – but the story follows two rubbish collectors in the East End. He pauses dramatically. “And they find uranium in the rubbish.”

He knows the East End well. Caine grew up in Bermondsey, south London, and is famous for his “undiluted Thames accent”. He was born Maurice Micklewhite – his father, a fish-market porter, was also called Maurice Micklewhite – but ditched the name as soon as he became an actor. Now he has Michael Caine in his passport and lives in Surrey with Shakira, his wife of 48 years. Anyone who would still call me Maurice is either dead or living in Bermondsey, he shrugs. “And I don’t go to Bermondsey.” Is he not still Maurice deep down? “No. The day I became Michael Caine, that was it – I was Michael Caine. I wasn’t Maurice any more, I was a completely different person. And it was amazing. It was fabulous.”