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Sunday, 9 January, 2000, 20:28 GMT
Michael Caine turns novelist

Michael Caine Caine with actors Claire Rushbrook and Matthew Marsden

Screen veteran Michael Caine is dabbling with a new chapter in his career by writing a novel, he has revealed.

But he joked: "There's no authors like Martin Amis or any other great writers trembling in their boots at the thought I'm writing this.

"It's a thriller to amuse me, and I hope it will amuse other people, that's all.

"I've got to the end in a mad dash, now I've got to go back and do it properly."

He confessed the plot would need a little more work - he realised when he got to the end of the book that one of the characters gets killed twice.

The intention is to go for performance rather than fisticuffs and gunshots
Michael Caine on Shiner
He spoke about the book as he announced details of his latest screen role in Shiner - a return to the world of gangster movies, which gave him huge success in the past with films like Mona Lisa and Get Carter.

He takes the title role in the 6.7m film opposite Oscar-winning American star Martin Landau.

Shiner also features TV heart-throb Matthew Marsden, who quit Coronation Street in 1998 for a short-lived pop career.

In Shiner, Mr Caine plays boxing promoter and small-time gangster Billy "Shiner" Simpson, whose world crashes around him when his son Eddie (played by Marsden) loses an important bout.

Michael Caine Caine as Jack Carter
The film, based loosely on Shakespeare's King Lear, is one of many gangland movies which have been made in Britain recently, but he said no comparisons could be made with other films, such as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

"It's a completely different kind of thing. It's a study in character," he said of the film, which goes into production in London on 16 January.

The actor said his character was "very tough, very unforgiving, but the whole point about it is that we've seen tough gangsters before but this is one who falls apart".

He added: "I don't want everyone to say Michael Caine is to play King Lear, a modern King Lear with a trilby hat on or something. It's only based on it.

"The intention is to go for performance rather than fisticuffs and gunshots."

Younger leading ladies

Mr Caine, who has been nominated for a Golden Globe award for his performance in The Cider House Rules, will be unable to attend the ceremony in the United States because he will be filming Shiner.

He also laughed off reports that he was insisting producers should give him younger leading ladies.

"In my last picture I married a 17-year-old, so I don't know how much younger I want them. I'd have to do a re-make of Lolita if I want to get them any younger than that," he said.

The producer of Shiner, Geoffrey Reeve, said the actor's fee for the film was "extremely reasonable" and added: "He wants to make the British film industry work and he doesn't charge ridiculous fees. We wouldn't get the movies made otherwise."

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See also:
11 Jun 99 |  Entertainment
Get Carter: Original and best
07 Oct 98 |  Entertainment
Caine gets lifetime award
17 Sep 98 |  Entertainment
Little Voice leads big festival

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