Michael Caine Credits Wife For Overcoming Daily Bottle Of Vodka Habit

By McCarton Ackerman 01/20/16

The Oscar-winning actor talked about his struggles with booze during the early part of his career.

Shakira and Michael Caine

Michael Caine is crediting his wife, Shakira Baksh, with helping him overcome a severe drinking habit. The Oscar-winning actor admitted he would have been dead “long ago” had he not met Baksh due to consuming a bottle of vodka per day.

In a new interview with Radio Times, Caine acknowledged being “a bit of a piss artist when I was younger. I used to drink a bottle of vodka a day and I was smoking several packs a day.” He chalked much of his excess drinking up to stress as he constantly wondered, “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.” However, he was reluctant to say that he was ever an alcoholic.

Caine said he justified his drinking because “I was never, ever pissed in any circumstance of employment. I’ve always been a complete and utter professional.” But he “calmed down” considerably after marrying Baksh in 1973 and admitted that if he hadn’t met her, “I would have been dead long ago. I probably would have drunk myself to death.”

The actor explained that “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 to The Telegraph. “And of course she was very anxious for me to stay alive.” Caine isn’t a complete teetotaler, but limits himself to only wine with dinner.

But one thing Caine never turned to is illicit substances. He was afraid to try marijuana as a teenager over fear that the effects of the drug would impact his memory permanently, but eventually broke down and smoked a joint once.

“I thought, 'I can't do it because I'll forget my lines.' Then one day I did smoke a marijuana cigarette and I started to laugh, and I laughed for five hours,” he said in 2009. “I nearly got a hernia, so I thought 'Sod that' and I never got started on drugs at all.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.