Peter O'Toole
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Note should also be made of a role which I personally think is as good as his one in Lawrence - but is not widely recognised - that of Flavius Silva in Masada. Many of the qualities Peter used for Lawrence are found again here - the eminent watchability of a role which (in this movie) nearly becomes an anti-hero. Please if you can do not settle for the 'chopped of TV' market version - if you're not watching the whole six hours - don't even think of sitting down at the TV...

After Lawrence of Arabia, O'Toole received six more nominations for the Best Actor Oscar but never won the award. In 2003, the Academy bestowed upon him the Academy Honorary Award for his lifetime achievements in film. O'Toole initially balked about accepting and wrote the academy a letter saying he was "still in the game" and would like more time to "win the lovely bugger outright." In the end, O'Toole relented and agreed to appear at the ceremony and pick up his Oscar.

O'Toole also has the distinction of being the only actor ever nominated for Academy Awards for playing the same character in two different films; he played King Henry II in both 1964's Becket and 1968's The Lion in Winter. He brought a depth of insight & self-awareness to both his towering dramatic portrayals & his delightfully outrageous comic overindulgences, performing them with unique flair & courage.

Peter has had the unique privilege of playing two kings (King Henry II in Becket (1964) and Sir/King Cedric Willingham in King Ralph (1991)), two emperors (Emperor Tiberius Caesar in Caligola (1979) and the Emperor of Lilliput in Gulliver's Travels (1996) (TV), a prince (Prince Meleagre in The Rainbow Thief (1990)), a president (President Paul von Hindenburg in Hitler: The Rise of Evil (2003) (TV)) and several lords and a Roman General.

More recently he appeared in Venus (2006) where he plays a version of himself (that never became a famous and lauded actor). He's an old man, in ill health, scraping a living playing minor parts on TV. He banters with old friends Leslie Phillips (who is brilliant) and Richard Griffiths. O'Toole is lively, caustic and still interested in the opposite sex, even if they are not interested in him! It brought him his eighth Oscar nomination that he didn’t win. Well worth watching.

I happily leave you with O’Toole’s own inimitable words—in this case on the subject of stage versus screen...

“Oh, it's painful seeing it all there on the screen, solidified, embalmed. I love the theatre, because it's the art of the moment. I'm in love with ephemera & I hate permanence. Acting is making words into flesh. And I love classical acting, because you need the vocal range of an opera singer, the movement of a ballet dancer & the ability to act—as you turn your whole body into the musical instrument on which you play. It's more than behaviourism, which is what you get in the movies. What are movies anyway? Just F****** moving photographs—that’s all. But the theatre! Ah, there you have the impermanence that I love. It's a reflection of life somehow. It''s like... building a statue of snow.”

When did I realize I was God? Well, I was praying and I suddenly realized I was talking to myself’

‘I can't stand light. I hate weather. My idea of heaven is moving from one smoke-filled room to another’

{at The 75th Annual Academy Awards} ‘ The only thing that wasn't enjoyable was in the green room. I said, 'Can I have a drink?' 'We have lemon juice, apple juice, still or sparkling.' I said, 'No, I want a drink. No drink?' I said, 'All right, I'm f**king off. I'll be back.' A man with earphones said, 'No! No!' Eventually this vodka was smuggled in



Suggested films to see:

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Masada (1981)
Beckett (1964)





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