Today, the blond hair is silver and the once heavy, black-rimmed glasses are framed with silver wire. But when you think of Michael Caine, you don’t picture his Harry Brown. It’s his ‘60s look that you imagine, from The Ipcress File or Alfie.
As soon as you see him, you hear the Cockney voice, present regardless of whether he’s playing an Englishman or an American, so it may come as a surprise to learn that the lad from the Elephant and Castle’s big break, in 1964, was as an RP-voiced officer in Zulu. That film kicked off a career that saw Caine become a star attraction. At the end of the ‘60s, he was in The Italian Job, and followed this a couple of years later with another iconic role as an extremely hard, ruthless villain in Get Carter.
Throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, Caine turned in performances ranging from solid to outstanding, including one as a washed-up English tutor in Educating Rita and an Oscar-winning role in Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters. Two gongs came at the beginning of the new millennium: another Oscar, for The Cider House Rules, and a knighthood. Arise, Sir Maurice Micklewhite. That’s his real name. Not a lot of people know that.