The Great Peter O'Toole Has Died

Featured Critic; Toronto, Canada (@filmfest_ca)
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Peter O'Toole died today after an extended illness, according to multiple sources. He was 81 years of age.

If the only role that O'Toole ever played was that of T.E. Lawrence, he would forever go down as one of the greatest actors of his or any generation. With piercing blue eyes and a beautiful, lilting voice honed upon the boards of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, it was his breakout role in Lawrence of Arabia that would forever mark him as a performer.

With a complicated early history (born either in Ireland or Yorkshire, in and around the 2nd of August, 1932, depending on which birth certificate he could produce), he would rise to become one of the most celebrated actors of his generation.

He was nominated eight times for an Oscar (Lawrence of Arabia, Becket, The Lion In Winter, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, The Ruling Class, The Stunt Man, My Favorite Year, and Venus), yet his only golden trophy from the academy was an Honorary Oscar granted in 2003.

The following is a selection of some of his varied performances, from classics to screwball comedies, through to one of the best animated films of all time.

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

For the history of cinema, O'Toole will forever be linked to the character of T.E. Lawrence. Decades on the role remains his most definitive, the best part of one of the best films ever made.

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Peter O'Toole
QinlongDecember 15, 2013 6:56 PM

I'd add his haunting performance as the deranged General Tanz in Anatole Litvak's NIGHT OF THE GENERALS, his devilishly fun turn in PHANTOMS, as well as being the definitive King Priam in the underrated TROY. His plea to get the body of his son Hector back is heartbreaking, and a masterclass in acting.

Arthur BondDecember 15, 2013 10:46 PM

Can't forget THE STUNT MAN! What a deliriously weird, possibly drunken performance!

Jason GorberDecember 15, 2013 11:17 PM

Let's be clear, there are dozens of shattering performances the man made... It may be silly, and shouldn't take his passing to do so, but it's as good a time as any to explore his varied career.

KurtDecember 16, 2013 12:29 AM

Dang, I totally forgot this, and yea...EXCELLENT.

Mr. CavinDecember 16, 2013 3:33 PM

I second everything you say about Lawrence of Arabia, but for me it's the man's performance in A Lion in Winter that really indelibly entrenched him in the first quartile of my favorites list. The whole movie is a particularly good example of stage-to-screen translation, and everything around O'Toole's performance is about as good as it gets. Yet O'Toole still takes and retakes the spotlight at every turn.

Of course, his bit as a waning, drunken, silly nonsense washout in My Favorite Year was also a career-defining role, a somehow likeable and far more predatory version of Dudley Moore's Arthur. As for O'Toole's actual waning, drunken, silly nonsense roles, High Spirits has always really charmed me.

I'm going to miss this man.

dustin changDecember 17, 2013 10:00 AM

My favorite performance of his is from The Ruling Class. His mental patient turned Messiah turned Jack the Ripper is one of the greatest comic manic performances ever.

mightyjoeyoungDecember 23, 2013 2:10 PM

"Peter O'Toole died today after an extended illness, according to multiple sources. He was 81 years of age."

Damn......well.....81.....O'Toole lived a long and I hope, good life.

Lots of great performances......

Somehow I always remember as a sauve british gentleman (of course he was not the only one who could do that, just look at Michael Caine in Zulu(1964), or Michael Fassbender in Inglourious Basterds(2009) doing stuff that suave british gentleman are not supposed to be doing.....just look at him in How to Steal a Million (1966), a very charming film with ├╝bercute Audrey Hepburn helping him out.

Of course sometimes O'Toole played more honest he did in The Day They Robbed the Bank of England (1960), square and honest, upstanding englishman.

But the tabloids described him in a different manner.......hellraiser, heartbreaker, instigator......maybe even navigator, trying to find new paths to selfdestruction.

Whatever the case he seemed to possess a wicked sense of humor, something John Goodman talked about in Inside the actors studio.

Over the years he kept doing one great performance after another, like President Paul von Hindenburg in Hitler: The Rise of Evil (2003) and of one could say popular with so much venom as Anton Ego.

RIP Peter O'Toole thanks for everything, you were a legend.