NEW YORK (Reuters) - When his memoirs were published in 1992, Michael Caine planned to retire from acting, write a novel, plant a garden and enjoy his family.
But like a character in a heist movie, he was cajoled back for one more caper — in his case, a film with Jack Nicholson.
“I wrote the first memoir because that was the end of my career. I got to the stage where I could not play the romantic leading man any more,” Caine told Reuters in an interview to promote his second memoir “The Elephant to Hollywood.”
“What I decided to do was get out of the business.”
Caine admits “Blood and Wine” with Nicholson was no great movie, but it led to much more work — his turn as Batman’s butler Alfred, hits from “Children of Men” to “The Quiet American” and his second Oscar for “The Cider House Rules.”
“It was like being an actor who had done this one-act play which was absolutely fabulous and he didn’t know there was two acts, and the second act was even better than the first,” said Caine, who was born Maurice Micklewhite, the son of a fish-market porter and a charwoman.
Now 77 and sporting a gray beard, Caine is preparing for another first — playing a grandfather in a movie. But first he is promoting his latest memoir, an old-fashioned and upbeat romp peppered with stories of John Wayne, Elizabeth Taylor, Sean Connery, Jane Fonda and countless other top Hollywood personalities.
The book by the man who made his name as the raffish lead of the 1960s British movie “Alfie” has advice for would-be actors. He writes about meeting Wayne, who gave him this advice on making it in Hollywood: “Remember to talk low, talk slow and don’t say too much.”
“I immediately made 10 movies where I never stopped talking in a high voice,” Caine said with a laugh.
Caine, who insists he remembers the swinging London of the 1960s despite the cliche that anyone who says they remember those days clearly wasn’t there, said he tries to stay modern.
“They did me a Twitter when I started this book,” he said. “I had a load of girls who did the Twitter and I dubbed them my Tweethearts, and my true Tweetheart, my wife, does my Twitter now, because I can’t do it.”
Speaking of his wife of nearly four decades, Shakira, Caine recalls seeing her for the first time in a television ad for Maxwell House coffee and asks: “Do you know who directed that commercial?”
“Ridley Scott,” he said, referring to the British director who went on to make such movies as “Alien” and “Blade Runner.”
“Whenever I see him, he says, ‘You owe me a wife.’”
Caine said he took a gracious tone in his memoir simply because “everybody in the movie business has been very gracious to me. I have not met scumbags.”
Caine says he will do some more movies — he expects another Batman movie to start shooting in May — and he has some remaining ambitions.
He wants to live to see his grandchildren — a 2-year-old and 1-year-old twins — attend school. After winning two supporting actor Oscars, he would love a best actor statuette. And he wants to finish writing a thriller.
“I love writing,” he said. “You don’t have to look your best, you don’t have to get up in the morning, you don’t have to talk to anyone and you can do it on your own.”
Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Philip Barbara