Wife saved me from drinking myself to death, reveals Caine
Michael Caine believes he would have drunk himself to death had he not met his second wife. He was drinking a bottle of vodka a day and smoking "several packs" of cigarettes.
And the screen icon (82), who is famous for films including 'Zulu', 'The Italian Job' and 'Alfie', said he would have been dead "long ago" had he not married Shakira Baksh.
He disclosed in an interview that it was Shakira, with whom he has a daughter, Natasha, who "calmed me down" when the pair married in 1973.
Caine had previously been married to the actress Patricia Haines, with whom he has a daughter, Dominique.
But he credits Baksh - now Lady Caine - with making him a reformed character.
"Without her, I would have been dead long ago," he told the 'Radio Times'. "I would have probably drunk myself to death.
"I was a bit of a piss artist when I was younger, I used to drink a bottle of vodka a day and I was smoking too, several packs a day.
"I wasn't unhappy but it was stress. You know, 'Am I going to get another picture? How am I going to do this part? How am I going to remember all those lines? I've got to get up at six in the morning and I hope the alarm works.'
"There was always some stressful thing. Meeting Shakira calmed me down."
He added: "She's my right-hand man, my confidante. I tell her everything. I was famous when I met her, but I couldn't have got this far without her."
Caine now drinks only wine with dinner.
The star, who won Oscars for roles in 'Hannah and Her Sisters' and 'The Cider House Rules', cut back on drinking when he married Shakira.
"She didn't say, 'You've got to stop drinking,' but being with her made me want to stay sober and be alive," he said.
"And of course, she was very anxious for me to stay alive."
However, Caine said he was never going to go off the rails and pointed to two experiences during his national service that he suggested were the making of him.
The first was in Korea, when he found himself in combat for the first time.
"I was positive I was going to die and I tested myself for cowardice, because you never know if you're going to run away when the enemy comes. And I didn't. I was OK. I didn't run.
"I never did any drugs. I was never self-destructive, because other people had tried to destroy me. I thank God."
The second was when he returned from Korea, having contracted cerebral malaria.
"Me and my platoon guys all had it," he said. "When we got home, a man called Colonel Solomons from the American army came from New York, and he was so pleased because he could use us as an experiment.
"They strapped us to a bed for 11 days, with calming injections so we wouldn't go nuts. I nearly died there.
"He took care of me and I survived. So from a point of view of personality, as a human being I was very strong.
"So with that and Korea, I wasn't about to start drinking myself to death, because I had survived."
Meanwhile, he is rumoured to be part of a 'silver fox' acting dream team that could be assembled to recreate the €20m Hatton Garden robbery on the big screen.
The film, with the working title 'The Hatton Garden Job', is believed to be in production, with other rumoured actors including Ray Winstone and Sean Connery.
The project is backed by British film-maker Metrodome. Managing director Jezz Vernon told 'Screen International': "We're currently deep in the legal process to find out what we can and can't include in the film.
"There are a lot of allegations on both sides of the law about additional involvement and wrongdoing that are not in the public domain."
Seven men were convicted of the Hatton Garden heist, which took place over the course of a weekend in April of last year. In the biggest burglary in British history, the gang ransacked deposit boxes in the heart of London's jewellery district.
An eighth man got clean away. (© Daily Telegraph, London)