Now well into his 80s, Michael Caine remains a constant presence on the big screen, lending gravitas to any project he’s in. But the Englishman’s acting career almost ended back in the 90s, when he realized that because of his age he would no longer be getting leading roles. So in an effort to reinvent himself, he temporarily retired from acting and opened a restaurant in Miami. Michael Caine was content with his post-acting life, until Jack Nicholson pulled him out of retirement, as he explained:
Michael Caine became a British film icon through starring roles in movies in the 60s and 70s and that was what he knew. So when age forced him out of those kinds of roles he saw it as a sign that his career as an actor was over. But, as he recalled in an excerpt from his memoir reported by Entertainment Weekly, Jack Nicholson proposed a different path.
It wasn’t an either/or situation, and Michael Caine didn’t need to retire from acting just because he was no longer a leading man. Jack Nicholson opened his eyes to the fact that there were still other roles for Michael Caine available, and that he could reinvent himself as a character actor. This would require some flexibility on his part to transform his performance to suit the script, but it was a way to continue as an actor.
Jack Nicholson wasn’t just a fan of Michael Caine’s work who wanted to see the actor continue his career either, he actually wanted him to join him in a film, as Michael Caine continued:
Back on set with Jack Nicholson, it seems as though Michael Caine realized that acting was his true passion and nothing else could replace it. It didn’t make a difference if it was a leading role or not, just being an actor made him happy. This was especially true alongside Jack Nicholson, who was fun and easygoing and told Michael Caine not to run back to set, with the two ultimately strolling back instead.
Blood and Wine is the only film where these two legendary actors starred together and now it takes on special significance as the film that brought Michael Caine out of his self-imposed retirement. Check out the trailer for the film below.
While he did have some flops after coming back out of retirement, it is impossible to argue that Michael Caine’s latter career hasn’t been a wild success. The actor won his second Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for 1999’s The Cider House Rules and has been a mainstay in the acclaimed films of Christopher Nolan. Michael Caine has also still found leading man roles in films like Harry Brown.
So every time Michael Caine shows up on screen giving a captivating performance, we can all say a little thanks to Jack Nicholson for dragging him out of retirement.
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