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Michael Caine was ‘warned against’ taking gay roles in the 1970s

Nick Duffy January 28, 2019
English actor Michael Caine smoking a cigarette.

English actor Michael Caine smoking a cigarette. (Evening Standard/Getty)

Michael Caine has revealed he ignored warnings that playing gay characters might kill his career.

The former heartthrob, best known for films like Alfie and The Italian Job, took on two major gay roles at a time when homosexuality on screen was still a big taboo.

Caine played a gay antique dealer Sidney Cochran in 1978 comedy California Suite, and and playwright Sidney Bruhl in 1982 thriller Deathtrap, in which he locked lips with Superman star Christopher Reeve.

Michael Caine was warned gay roles could be a ‘career killer’

In an interview with Rolling Stone published January 22, the 85-year-old Caine revealed that he had been warned about the impact the roles could have on his career.

He said: “It was a bit dicey to do — people said it could be a career killer and what are the girls going to think of you?

“A couple of people said, ‘Do you really want to do it, Michael? People will think you’re gay.’ I said, ‘No, they won’t. They know I’m an actor.'”

“I’d never kissed a man on the lips before.”

— Michael Caine

He added: “I loved doing that. Many of my friends were gay, so I’d studied them and their movements and speech, so I basically knew what I was doing. And the parts were so very good.”

He added: “I’d never kissed a man on the lips before. Chris Reeve and I had to do a romantic scene [in Deathtrap].

“Neither of us had ever kissed another man before, so we drank a couple of brandies.

“Then when it came time for the dialogue, we couldn’t remember it. So the kiss was a bit of a disaster.”

Michael Caine: My dad thought I was gay

The actor previously revealed his father thought he was gay when he first decided to become an actor.

Speaking to Esquire in 2013, he said: “My dad was a Billingsgate fish market porter. When I told him that I was going to be an actor he never said a word but I saw his face and thought, he thinks I’m gay.

“The theatre in those days was very gay. But I wasn’t.”

Sir Michael Caine attends A Night Out With Michael Caine at Royal Albert Hall on October 1, 2014 in London, England
Sir Michael Caine attends A Night Out With Michael Caine at Royal Albert Hall on October 1, 2014 in London, England. (Chris Jackson/Getty)

He quipped of the theatre job: “When I came out of the army I was very suntanned and built a bit like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“When I walked in to be assistant stage manager, I realised the entire theatre company was gay. So they hired me instantly.”

More: actor, career, Gay, LGBT, Michael Caine

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