Michael Caine Announces Retirement From Acting

Will "The Great Escaper" be his final screen role?

October 15, 2023 8:39 am
Michael Caine in
British actor Sir Michael Caine stands on stage during the 28th European Film Award ceremony in Berlin on December 12, 2015. Cain received the Honorary Award of the EFA President and Board.

Reports that Michael Caine is bringing his acting days to an end are nothing new; in 2021, the acclaimed actor expressly denied reports to that effect. Given the breadth of his career — his first work as an actor includes a number of stage and screen roles in the 1950s — it feels like Caine has very little to prove at this point. Still, if he’s still finding acting creatively satisfying, why call it a day?

As per a report in The Observer, Caine is, sadly, no longer finding acting creatively satisfying. As Clea Skopeliti writes, Caine made the comments in an interview with the BBC series Today, telling them, “I keep saying I’m going to retire. Well I am now.”

Caine’s explanation as to why he’s calling it a day have to do with the roles available to him at his age. “The only parts I’m liable to get now are 90-year-old men. Or maybe 85. They’re not going to be the lead,” he told Today. “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.”

If his forthcoming film The Great Escaper is indeed his onscreen swan song — and there’s some evidence to suggest that it won’t be — it’ll mark the end of a remarkable career. To date, Caine has been nominated for six Academy Awards (winning twice, for The Cider House Rules and Hannah and Her Sisters), along with one BAFTA Award, three Golden Globes and one SAG Award.

And that’s without getting into the way that Caine is one of the most stylish men of all time.

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It’s also worth mentioning that — even in his later-career supporting roles — Caine could find interesting spins on the material. He became a regular presence in Christopher Nolan’s films, and his work in The Prestige is one of my personal favorites among Caine’s filmography. Caine often played a wise mentor figure in Nolan’s films, but in The Prestige he played engineer John Cutter, whose shifting loyalties between the magicians played by Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale gave him even more to do as an actor.

His final exchange with Jackman — a handful of words delivered with just the right emphasis — both puts an earlier exchange between the two men in a different light and is a brilliant encapsulation of how good Caine could be on screen. If Caine has one more surprise up his sleeve, it wouldn’t be much of a shock.

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