Sir Michael Caine has criticised writers for not depicting working class characters on the small and big screen.
The veteran actor, 83, rallied to the defence of posh actors, saying that Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston and Eddie Redmayne were being unfairly picked on in the controversy over the new privately educated Hollywood elite.
But the Get Carter star complained at the GQ Men of the Year Awards, where he scooped this year’s Legend prize, that today’s TV and film writers did not tackle working class stories any more.
The Zulu star, who broke through as a working class actor, told the Press Association: “The problem’s not because of the actors, it’s because of the writers.
“We used to write about working class people, Harold Pinter and (John Osborne’s) Look Back In Anger. There were working class heroes.
“That doesn’t happen any more.”
The star added: “There’s not something wrong with the actors, it’s something wrong with the writers. It does upset me. But I think they’ve got hold of the wrong thing by going on about the actors.”
The Dark Knight actor also criticised aspiring stars for chasing fame.
“I became an actor because I wanted to become an actor, not because I wanted to be rich and famous,” he said.
“That’s the thing now. Everybody wants to be rich and famous. You say to a lot of young people ‘How? and they say ‘I don’t know how, but I want to be rich and famous.’
“I never thought of being rich and famous. I obviously knew I was never going to be! I just wanted to be the best actor I could possibly be. That might be what’s missing now.”
But he said that he had no complaint with TV shows like The X Factor.
“I think they should go in for it, do it, at least give yourself a shot,” he said of the contestants.
“If you’re no good, you’re no good. I think that’s great. I was an amateur actor.”
Dominic West, Damian Lewis, Eddie, Benedict and Tom are among the privately educated British actors who are enjoying big success in Hollywood.
Veteran actress Julie Walters, The Walking Dead star David Morrissey and Call The Midwife star Stephen McGann have complained about the dearth of young actors emerging from poorer backgrounds.
And Sherlock star Benedict raised eyebrows when he said that he was considering moving to the US because he was fed up with being “castigated” for his public school background.
Sir Michael arrived at the GQ Men of the Year Awards, held at Tate Modern, with his wife Shakira.
He said of his legend award: “The idea of being a legend is quite extraordinary because what am I supposed to do now?
“The answer is the same because you’re just a person.
“I want to thank my incredible family. We have had a wonderful life together for so long.”