Saturday, June 6, 2015

Michael Caine on Gay Characters

Meeting marvelous Michael Caine will always be a highlight of my TV career.  He was a terrific guest on my VH1 talk show in the late 1980s.  He's a wonderful actor and a witty conversationalist.  With all the decades of screen success he's had, he never cut away from his working class roots.  That is a large part of his charm.  During the show, I asked Mr. Caine what drove him in his career.  He replied, "Fear."  I understood that.  It was the fear of not being noticed, not achieving something, not being significant.  The new British actor first clicked with American moviegoers with his performance in the historical war epic, Zulu.  Caine played a military officer in that 1964 action drama.
For his 1966 performance as Alfie, cad who feels that the only life worth having... a sex life, Caine got the first of his six Oscar nominations.  He went on to become one of the few actors to win two Academy Awards in the category of Best Supporting Actor.  His first victory was for Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) and the second was for The Cider House Rules (1999).  Today, most young moviegoers know Sir Michael Caine is known, not as Alfie, but as Alfred from the box office blockbuster Batman movies.

But, after the fine reviews he got for his debut in Zulu, he was dropped from his contract with the film's producer, Joseph E. Levine.  The producer, whom Caine liked, didn't feel that he was butch enough to have a film career and become a star.  Michael Caine told me about that on my VH1 show -- and he made me laugh when he talked about his kissing scene with Christopher Reeve in the 1982 murder mystery, Deathtrap.

Here's a clip from my late 1988 talk show on VH1, Watch Bobby Rivers:

See what I mean?  How could you not love having Michael Caine as a guest.  June is Gay Pride Month.  Sir Michael knows a thing or two about embracing gay characters.  Producer Joseph E. Levine was wrong.  Caine had the right stuff to be a star -- and he proved it.

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