It's 40 years since Michael Caine made his film debut in "Zulu", and with his sixth Oscar nomination, for "The Quiet American", this could prove to be his best year yet. The star joined Jonathan Ross on March 11th for a special Hollywood Greats programme to mark his 70th birthday.
Caine was born Maurice Micklewhite in 1933 to a fish porter and a cleaner in Bermondsey, London. International stardom, iconic status, and a knighthood were not on the cards for the myopic nipper with Blefora (a disease which caused his eyelids to swell), and a strong cockney accent. But Michael Caine was determined to succeed.
He went to Korea on national service, returning to London to act in various rep productions. After several theatre roles he changed his name, creating a new identity inspired by the film "The Caine Mutiny". His big break followed soon after in 1963 with the part of Lieutenant Bromhead in "Zulu".
Caine was disliked by studio execs, vomited with nerves on seeing the rushes, and told by the president of Embassy Pictures that he looked "like a queer on-screen". Nevertheless, his performance garnered praise and the role that would make him a star - Harry Palmer in "The Ipcress File". A refreshing antithesis to 007, Palmer propelled Caine to international fame and a slew of high profile jobs.
Since his inauspicious start, Caine has appeared in more than 120 films. Classics such as "Get Carter", "The Italian Job", and some turkeys like " Jaws 4: The Revenge", and "Blue Ice". He's won two Oscars, owned numerous restaurants, been knighted and married twice. But the East End kid with the droopy eyelids has remained resolutely unaffected. "I consider myself blessed", he admits, "Iíve done great things. Iíve earned a massive amount of money. I've had fame. I've had pleasure. I have the most wonderful family life . . . you pinch yourself sometimes and think 'why me?' ".