Michael Caine wants to encourage actors not to give up on their acting aspirations too early. He’s certainly glad he kept himself in the game. In the April edition of Interview magazine, the unpredictable, edgy actress Aubrey Plaza was matched up to interview her fellow thespian, the iconic Michael Caine who boasts a nearly seven-decade long career. Indeed, the two were paired up in the upcoming comedy-drama Best Sellers in which Caine’s cranky character of a washed-up author is forced to contend with the ambitious and peppy editor portrayed by Plaza.

When Plaza asked Caine about his 2018 memoir Blowing the Bloody Doors Off: And Other Lessons in Life, the 87-year-old actor shared what inspired him to write it. He told a story about his temporary retirement from acting in the 1990s.

“At the age of 62, I got a script and sent it back to the producer saying, ‘The part is too small.’ and he sent it back to me with a letter saying, ‘I didn’t want you to read for the lover, I wanted you to read for the father,’” Caine recalled. “I suddenly realized that I was 62, I was old, and so I sort of retired.” He’d been a leading man since the 1960s, so he believed this sudden seismic shift indicated his acting career was over. 

Looking for a consistently sunny place to live, Caine settled on Florida. “I went to Miami, bought an apartment, opened a restaurant, and I had a wonderful time,” he continued. “I wasn’t going to work again. And then I became great friends with Jack Nicholson, who was also living in Miami at the time. And he talked me into making a movie.” 

The movie was the 1996 film Blood and Wine. Nicholson was cast to star in the neo-noir thriller, and there was a part available for Caine. Nicholson helped Michael see that just because his leading-man days seemed to be over, he could still take on quality character roles. 

“I did [Blood and Wine], and it was a success,” Caine said. And his retirement officially came to an end. 

The English actor would soon be cast in The Cider House Rules—a role for which he earned his second Academy Award (his first Oscar was for his performance in the 1986 film Hannah and Her Sisters)—as well as more lighthearted box-office hits like Miss Congeniality alongside Sandra Bullock and Austin Powers in Goldmember with Mike Myers. “And then I went on to make all the Batman movies, and it struck me that I wanted to say to people who were my age, ‘Don’t give up, because there’s more out there.’ I’ve made some fabulous movies since I retired.” Indeed, he wrote in ‘Blowing the Bloody Doors Off’: “Small parts can lead to big things. And if you keep doing things right, the stars will align when you least expect it.”

Caine also wrote his memoir to share his ideas about fame and fortune. He recalled, “I saw a program on television in England, where this older man was asking young students who were leaving school what they wanted to do with their lives. Three of them said they wanted to be famous, and he said, ‘How would you want to be famous?’ They said, ‘We don’t know, and we don’t care. We just want to be famous.’ That struck me as strange. So I wrote the book for two reasons. The message of the first half, to younger people, was that you should do what you want without ever thinking of becoming rich or famous. Just do it and be as good at it as you possibly can. And maybe one day you will be rich and famous, but you shouldn’t do it to be rich and famous. And the other part of it is, don’t give up too early. Just keep going. I’m going to be 87 next month and I’m still waiting for the phone to ring and someone to say, ‘Here’s a movie.’”

Caine is currently writing another book—this one, a thriller titled If You Don’t Want to Die. His other projects include his eighth film with Christopher Nolan, Tenet, to be released this summer as well as the comedy Best Sellers alongside Plaza.