In his latest film King of Thieves, Michael Caine and a pack of fellow senior citizens surprise the world when they pull off the biggest bank robbery in British history. His role in this movie, which is based on a true story, is ambitious but it’s one that Michael enjoyed. “I became an actor for the love of it,” the 85-year-old star, who has made more than 150 films in a career that has spanned five decades, reveals in Closer Weekly‘s latest issue, on newsstands now. “So while people are still offering me things I want to do, I’ll keep doing it.”
Work keeps him busy, but it’s Michael’s home life that brings him the most happiness. He’s still as delighted to go home to his wife of 45 years, Shakira Baksh, as he was when they first met. “We’ve been in love at first sight for 47 years,” Michael, who had one early marriage to Patricia Haines, a British actress, confides. That union, which broke up in 1962, produced a daughter, Dominique.
In 1973, Michael spotted Shakira in a television commercial and tracked down her telephone number through her advertising agency. “She couldn’t get rid of me on the phone, so she decided to come out with me and get rid of me,” he jokes. In just one evening, Michael realized that Shakira was everything he wanted in a lifelong partner and more. “I have this extraordinary beautiful Indian wife who cooks fantastic Italian food,” gushes Michael. “She is one of the most beautiful people I have ever seen, but she is also the gentlest, kindest person. Things can’t get better than that! We are never apart.”
Michael credits Shakira for not just his happiness, but his health, and longevity, too. “I wasn’t an alcoholic, but I was drinking very heavily and I know it would have killed me,” he explains. “Shakira is a Muslim and doesn’t drink alcohol. She not only changed my life, she saved it. She is the best thing that ever happened to me.” Today, Michael only drinks a little wine with dinner and has quit smoking.
With an eye toward his health, Michael also lost 30 pounds recently. He tries to manage his weight by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising. “I am deliriously happy,” he confesses of his life. “I don’t have any money worries, which I had earlier. I have taken care of everybody, which my mother said I should do.”
He also has three really excellent reasons to want to stick around for as long as he can — his grandchildren. “I am completely besotted with them,” he admits. “When you have grandchildren you want to live longer.” Michael’s daughters, Dominique and Natasha, have given him three kiddos — twins Allegra and Miles and son Taylor. “Both of the boys have two middle names — Michael Caine,” he confides. “My daughter said I never had a son, so now I’ve got two!”
The star, who is also crazy about his granddaughter, believes that having a close relationship to the next generation keeps him young. It’s like “starting life over. Just when you get old enough to start thinking about death, your grandchildren come along and all you think about is life. It’s fabulous,” says this two-time Oscar winner. Being a grandfather is “my best role and I don’t need any awards for it.”
For more on your favorite celebs, pick up the latest issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now — and be sure to sign up for our newsletter for more news!