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Michael Caine

I could outrun a rabbit as a child

Michael Caine with his wife, Shakira, in 1984. Paul Harris/Getty Images

Every movie I ever made began over lunch, Michael Caine tells chef Ruthie Rogers in her River Café Table 4 podcast. “I’m not wasting a dinner to do business. You’ve got to come to lunch for that.” The 88-year-old actor and the River Café’s owner are “very good friends”: Caine sits every Wednesday at Table 4, the VIP spot next to the west London restaurant’s open kitchen. “I always wanted to own a restaurant,” he tells her (and he once did – see Eating in). “I loved the idea of getting drunk for nothing.”

Caine’s lust for food was kindled in France when he was a young man. “When my dad died, he left me a bit of money, about £100. And I was so sad, I said I’m going to get on a train and go to Paris.” He lived there for seven months, selling “frites for a franc” and splashing his earnings and his dad’s money in brasseries. It was a far cry from the wartime diet he’d grown up on. He lived on a farm for several years as an evacuee from south London. “I could outrun a rabbit,” he says. “I used to catch a rabbit with a stick and give it to my mother to cook for dinner.” Only when producer Harry Saltzman cast him in The Ipcress File in 1965, and took him out for lunch, did he know he’d made it. “There was caviar everywhere,” says Caine. “I suddenly realised, that was what my life was going to be like.”

Listen to the podcast here.