Brit actor Michael Caine says that the culture of booze and fistfights has now been taken over by drugs and killings.
Caine, 76, who plays an ex-Marine pensioner living alone in an inner-city estate after the death of his wife in the upcoming movie Harry Brown, spoke to some of the kids who were signed up for the film.
AdvertisementThe producers of Harry Brown used youngsters from London estates to play the minor hoodie gangster characters in the gritty, low-budget thriller, and Caine was eager to take up the part, which spoke about youth violence.
"I am always looking for something to stretch me as an actor, and this film does it. It is also about something that interests me - the kids on the sink estates. We are all sort of responsible for them being there," the Sun quoted him as saying.
"Their family let them down, the education system let them down, the Government let them down.
"In other words, we all let them down, and that's why they are like they are," he said.
Filming on location in parts of east and southeast London allowed Caine to return to the impoverished streets where he grew up, to see what had become of the area.
"I was at the Elephant and Castle, where I come from, and there are these terrible flats. They are being pulled down now but people have been living in them for years. They are like animal cages," he said.
"I suppose if you house people like animals they turn into animals.
"I talked to the local kids a lot during filming.
"For them, I was one of them, if you see what I mean. They talked to me on an equal basis. There is potential in all of them, but they never got the chance.
"And, of course, what you have now which you didn't have when I was young is drugs. You had alcoholism, people getting p****d, but you never had the drugs and that is a massive problem.
"We were shooting in Hackney and someone local came up to me and said, 'Welcome to Crackney!'
"It was a gentler time when I was young. There were vicious gangsters but they were professional gangsters. They chose who they hit and what they robbed.
"But the drug addicts today have to kill anybody - it doesn't matter who - to get the money, so you get this incredible random violence.
"When I was young, you fought the guys in the next street. But it wasn't so vicious then. We fought with our fists. Now they fight with knives and guns.
"I have now seen it at close hand, very close hand. I was quite aware of it and I come from there, but even I was shocked to find out how bad it is," he added.