Michael Caine's father use to think he was gay.

The Oscar-winning actor - who grew up in Southwark, South London - remembers how taken aback his dad was when he first revealed he wanted to be an actor as it was unusual for a heterosexual man to enter the industry at the time.

He told Esquire magazine: ''My dad was a Billingsgate fish market porter. When I told him that I was going to be an actor he never said a word but I saw his face and thought, he thinks I'm gay. The theatre in those days was very gay. But I wasn't.''

Michael, 80, may be known for playing boisterous confident characters on the big-screen but he admits when growing up he would avoid speaking to anyone he didn't know and would hide himself away whenever the occasion arose.

He added: ''I was the shyest child. If strangers came into the house I'd hide behind the curtains and wouldn't come out until they'd gone.''

The 'Inception' star has since gained a tremendous amount of self-belief and credits his upbringing for helping him turn into the successful actor he is today.

He quipped: ''My three great achievements with which I had absolutely nothing to do are that I was born an Englishman, a Londoner and a Cockney.''