Michael Caine, Shirley Bassey and Edina Ronay laugh together while sitting at a table at The Pickwick Club, in London in 1964.

Michael Caine, Shirley Bassey and Edina Ronay laugh together while sitting at a table at The Pickwick Club, in London in 1964.

“Give up.”

That’s the advice Michael Caine received over and over for decades after he began his acting career.

I wasn’t great looking and I had a thick Cockney accent in a very class-conscious country, which was before the ‘60s England. And to become an actor, you know… they didn’t see a big career for me. They were very understanding people. They realized I’d get parts, but I’d be the policeman who’d come in at the end of the film and take the criminal away when he was arrested or something like that. They knew there was no career in it for me. It was just a job. And I, in actual fact, accepted that because at that time, I knew that I would never be rich or famous.

Well, Caine did become rich and famous. But long before all of that happened, amid prophecies he’d never make it as an actor, he decided to perfect his craft.

What I said to myself was, I’m going to be an actor, and I’m going to be the best actor I could possibly be without reference to any other actors because whatever you do, there’s always going to be someone better than you and someone worse than you. So all you have to do is be the best you can possibly be, and to this day in my life, I still try to be better than I was the last time.

Now, at age 85, Caine is still acting. Earlier this year, he starred in a British crime film called “King of Thieves,” alongside Charlie Cox and Michael Gambon.

He’s reflecting, too. His new memoir, Blowing the Bloody Doors Off: And Other Lessons in Life, catalogs his humble beginnings, and what it took to get to the pinnacle of his profession.

“If you give up, question it a little bit,” he told us. “Every time, anytime, anything you do. Especially in old age because there may be a couple of years in it for you.”

Show produced by Avery Kleinman, text by Kathryn Fink.

Guests

  • Michael Caine Actor; Author, "Blowing The Bloody Doors Off: And Other Lessons In Life"; @themichaelcaine

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