I’ve had the good fortune to interview lots of interesting people in my life and to hob-nob with celebrities. It’s an unspoken law that when you attend a star-studded “after-party” that you don’t introduce yourself to Madonna, unless you’re also a diva.
Mere mortals wait for the star to introduce herself or for a publicist or mutual acquaintance to do the honors. I’ve usually abided by the rule in social settings, but there was one time when I couldn’t help myself.
It was at a New York party for the Oscars in 1999. Michael Caine was there, and not in Hollywood, because he was shooting Curtain Call with Maggie Smith in the city. Fortified by a couple of flutes of champagne, I walked up to him and looked straight into his blue eyes. He’s 6 foot, 2 inches and I’m that tall in high heels. “I know you’ve heard this hundreds of times, but I adored you in Alfie,” I gushed.
I admit that l felt a little ridiculous mentioning a film that had come out more than 30 years earlier. I didn’t want to imply that the rest of his oeuvre wasn’t worthy of my admiration.
Always the charmer, Caine replied, “Thank you very much. Don’t worry. I never get tired of hearing how people appreciate my work.” I walked away knowing that I could now die happy.
Mind you, I was only 6 years old when Alfie was released, but when I saw it for the first time in my 20s, it knocked me out. If there were ever a film that symbolized the ethos of London in the Swingin’ Sixties, this was it. I loved it when Alfie talked to the camera, letting the audience in on the secret. And I was astounded by Caine’s emotional range.
Even though I’m a fan of Jude Law, I wasn’t surprised when his 2004 remake of Alfie got a ho-hum reception. As far as I’m concerned, and evidently a lot of other folks agree, there is only one Alfie.
Speaking of Alfies, isn’t it interesting that Caine played Batman’s butler Alfred Pennyworth in Batman Begins and in the upcoming Batman film The Dark Knight? There’s a branch of astrology that looks at the thousands of name asteroids up in the sky. Perhaps there’s an asteroid Alfred that was conjunct Caine’s Sun when he was born.
Michael Caine is also one of my husband’s favorite actors. His favorite Caine films are Zulu, The Italian Job, and The Man Who Would be King, which also starred Sean Connery and Caine’s wife, Shakira.
Anyone who has followed Caine’s career or who has read his 1992 autobiography What’s It All About? knows that he has had some tremendous highs and lows in his life. And though Caine may have shared some character traits with Alfie (a working-class background and a love of the “birds”), being a slacker wasn’t one of them.
Caine was long called “the hardest-working man in Hollywood.” He’s honed his craft and fattened his bank account by appearing in less-than-memorable films like the The Swarm and Jaws: The Revenge. Along the way, he has showcased his considerable comedic talents and won more mainstream fans with such films as Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, a classic collaboration with Steve Martin. Caine never phones it in. Even if the movie is a piece of junk, he always delivers a professional performance.
Some of my favorite Caine films, like Educating Rita and Mona Lisa, involve the British class system, which at first stymied the actor’s ambitions. He’s been a critic of the system over the years, though he’s obviously not a radical or he wouldn’t have agreed to be knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000. For key dates in Caine’s life, see his Web site.
If you’re a music person, don’t miss this ode to Caine from the Eighties ska band Madness. You’ll see that I borrowed from the lyrics (“All I wanted was a word or a photograph to keep at home”) for the headline to this post.
Caine’s biography is laugh-out-loud funny, especially to an astrologer. Born Maurice Joseph Micklewhite on Mar. 14, 1933, Caine is a Pisces, whose symbol is the fish. So what was his father’s trade? He was a fishmonger at Billingsgate!
Having visited some of Caine’s restaurants and knowing about his keen interest in food and nutrition, I suspected there was a strong Cancer aspect in his chart. Sure enough, there is. His 23 degree Pisces Sun makes a favorable trine to Pluto in Cancer in the second house of earned income. With that aspect, Caine can actually make money in the restaurant business, unlike most actors who try their luck in the kitchen.
Caine’s Pluto in Cancer is also squared by Uranus in Aries, a picture he shares with other members of his generation, but one that has led to considerable upheaval in Caine’s life — first being evacuated from London and separated from his family during World War II only to return to the city and witness bombing by the Germans, almost dying of a rare strain of malaria after serving in Korea, being sent to jail for not paying child support when he was destitute, to name just a few.
I’ve run the natal chart for 10:05 a.m. in London because Caine says in his book that he was born “a few minutes after 10 o’clock in the morning.” I’ve seen the chart elsewhere with a 10:10 birth time, but 10 minutes seems like more than “a few” to me.
Throughout his book, Caine notes how fortunate he has been during his life and that he sometimes has felt as if he had a guardian angel watching over him. This makes perfect sense. Besides the Sun, he’s also got the North Node and Venus in spiritual Pisces. This lineup is opposed by a stellium in Virgo — Mars, Neptune, and Jupiter. This is a lucky man, indeed.
In addition to the natal chart, I’ve included the transits for Aug. 24, 1966, the night that Alfie premiered. As you can see, the revolutionary Pluto/Uranus conjunction in Virgo was sitting on Caine’s Jupiter, turning him into an international superstar and bringing him big money, seemingly overnight.
Caine’s Gemini rising is ruled by Mercury the trickster. The Gemini ascendant forms a T-square with the opposing stelliums in Pisces and Virgo. The result? Caine is a chameleon par excellence. The Gemini rising has been opposed by transiting Pluto in the last few years, bringing Caine magician roles in The Prestige and the upcoming Is Anybody There?
So much has happened to Caine since he wrote his biography in 1992 that he could write another one. Since then, he’s won the best supporting actor Oscar for The Cider House Rules (he had previously won one for Woody Allen’s Hannah and her Sisters) and delivered a stunning performance in The Quiet American, which brought him an Oscar nomination for best actor and the BAFTA award (Britain’s answer to the Oscars) for best actor.
Here’s a coincidence of sorts: Some top actors passed on the original Alfie because they didn’t want to be in a film with an abortion scene. John Irving’s book The Cider House Rules also had a story line that included abortions, which was dropped for the film adaptation.
The astrologer in me sees that emphasis on infant life and death as another manifestation of Caine’s Pluto in Cancer trining his Sun. Pluto in Cancer is a generational signature, but because it makes an aspect to Caine’s Sun, it’s very powerful in his life. Indeed, both his wife Shakira and his daughter Natasha had serious health problems shortly after Natasha’s birth.
I haven’t done the research, but I seem to remember there was a disagreement between Caine and the distributors and producers of The Quiet American, Miramax Films, then run by Harvey and Bob Weinstein. I can’t remember exactly what the story was. Was it that Caine didn’t think he was getting enough support from the Weinsteins to win the best actor Oscar? Or was it that the Weinsteins didn’t want to put the film in competition because they didn’t think Caine could win? Whatever the power struggle was, it sounds like a manifestation of Pluto crossing Caine’s descendant and squaring the Sun.
As transiting Uranus moves across his Sun over the next year or so, Michael Caine could get a jolt. He could deliver a revolutionary performance that recalls the glory of Alfie. He could finally win the best actor Oscar. (So far, he’s only taken home the golden statue for best supporting actor.) Caine was recently honored by the Film Society at Lincoln Center with a tribute night. With Uranus and then Jupiter coming to conjunct his Sun, a lifetime achievement Oscar is another strong possibility, in late February or early March 2010.
Michael Caine still has a few tricks left up his sleeve.