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CANNES, France (Reuters) - An 82-year-old Michael Caine gets a massage and 77-year-old Jane Fonda's wig falls off and her makeup is streaked by tears in "Youth", a Cannes competition film that shows what a drag it is getting old no matter how wealthy you are.
Both actors, as well as co-star Harvey Keitel, 76, said on Wednesday after a screening of Italian director Paolo Sorrentino's film, set among wealthy retirees in a posh Swiss resort, that there was no disguising who they are at this age.
"The only alternative to playing elderly people is playing dead people. So...I'm quite smart, I picked elderly people," Caine joked at a news conference where he and Fonda were queried about scenes which seem to strip them of all or most makeup.
Caine said he hadn't minded the massage scene.
"It didn't matter to me because it's the only body I've got...And an aging body, to people who are not old, this is what's going to happen to you. So don't get too smart about it."
Fonda, who practically invented the screen look of the pneumatic female superhero in the 1968 French-Italian sci-fi movie "Barbarella", said she'd enjoyed her part in Sorrentino's film as the aged Hollywood diva Brenda Morley, upon whom Keitel's director character depends for making his last film.
"There's something very vulnerable about an old woman who puts on the mask of makeup and everything and when that's stripped away she becomes very vulnerable and it's fun to play," Fonda said.
Caine, whose film "Alfie" about a London womanizer won a special jury prize at Cannes in 1966, said he'd almost made a faux pas with Queen Elizabeth when she knighted him in 2000.
"I nearly got into trouble there, because she said to me -- and she doesn't say very much -- she said to me, 'I have a feeling you have been doing what you do for a very long time'.
"And I almost said, 'And so have you'. But I thought, 'Michael keep your mouth shut. You're about to lose your knighthood and end up in the Tower (of London) beheaded'."
The film by Sorrentino, whose "La grande bellezza" won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2014, is one of 19 competing for the Palme d'Or prize on Sunday.
Editing by Mark Heinrich