Michael Caine: 'Cars 2' Star Once Put Brakes on Spending

Michael CaineMichael Caine's four-wheeled spy character in Cars 2, Finn McMissile, rode shotgun as part of Disney's 300-toy sequel launch at the American International Toy Fair in New York City. Caine, a two-time Oscar winner, marveled at the merchandising engine revving around him.

When he was a lad, store-bought playthings were out of the question. "I came from a very poor family," he told WalletPop in an exclusive interview. "You sort of made your own toys, your own way."His finest work was a wheelbarrow, he recalled. It started with a tiny wheel he found, and he managed to fashion the rest out of wood and nails.

A celebrated career of more than 100 films, including Alfie and Inception, has put his net worth at an estimated $45 million, according to celebrityworth.com. But one gets the impression he's careful with his finances, except for the occasional work-reward splurge.

"I wait til I do a great job, and every great job I do I buy myself a present at the end of every movie," he said. I just finished a movie, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, and when I go home, my present is I shall completely refurbish and update my [in-house] cinema."

Caine, who turns 78 on March 14, recently expanded into animated voice-overs. His first gig was for the recently released Gnomeo & Juliet. But his biggest will undoubtedly be Cars 2, in which he voices a British car on the espionage trail of some dangerous hoods. Caine said he wanted to make movies that his grandchildren could watch before age 18. He didn't do it for the voice-over payday.

"Hardly," he told WalletPop. "Not at all. Every few months over a period of years -- two years, say -- you get a call saying, 'Can you come next Thursday for two hours?' I will pop over to the recording studio and you just get paid for the recording."

Actors sometimes earn in the neighborhood of $300 per hour for animated dialog, according to Voices.com and the Screen Actors Guild website.

Cars 2 -- movie opening June 24, toys skidding into stores in May -- is Caine's second go-round as an action figure. His first (although one incarnation had him as a cute little Lego that looked nothing like him) was Alfred the Butler in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Asked if he stands to earn a slice of the toy tie-in pie through Cars 2 (the original still generates $2 billion a year in revenue), Caine answered that he didn't know. "I'll have to ask my agent about that," he said. "I hadn't thought about that at all, the toys and what they sell. I remember Jack Nicholson telling me he made a great deal of money out of the Joker. He had a deal with the toy."
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