Peter James O'Toole (2 August 1932 14 December 2013) was a British-Irish actor.
His Star-Making Role was Lawrence of Arabia in 1962. Regarded as one of the best actors of all time, he received a record eight Academy Award nominations without ever winning one. However, in 2003 the Academy gave him a Honorary Oscar for his entire body of work and his lifelong contribution to film. On July 10, 2012, Mr. O'Toole announced his retirement from acting. He passed away on December 14, 2013 at age 81 after a long illness.
Though he preferred to be called Irish all his life, claimed he was born in Connemara, and had an Irish and an English birth certificate, records verify O'Toole was really born in Leeds, and he grew up in Yorkshire. His parents were Irish and Scottish. Nevertheless, Ireland happily claims him as one of her own. His ashes even resided temporarily in Áras an Uachtaráin, as he was a personal friend of President Michael D Higgins.
- Lawrence of Arabia (1962) as Thomas Edward Lawrence
- Becket (1964) as king Henry II of England
- Lord Jim (1965) as Lord Jim
- What's New Pussycat? (1965) as Michael James
- The Bible (1966) as The Three Angels
- How to Steal a Million (1966) as Simon Dermott
- The Night of the Generals (1967) as General Wilhelm Tanz
- The Lion in Winter (1968) as Henry II of England
- Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969) as Arthur Chipping
- Man of La Mancha (1972) as Don Quixote de La Mancha / Miguel de Cervantes / Alonso Quijano
- The Ruling Class (1972) as Jack Gurney, 14th Earl of Gurney
- Caligula (1979) as Tiberius
- Zulu Dawn (1979) as Lord Chelmsford
- The Stunt Man (1980) as Eli Cross
- My Favorite Year (1982) as Alan Swann
- Supergirl (1984) as Zaltar
- Creator (1985) as Dr. Harry Wolper
- Club Paradise (1986) as Governor Anthony Cloyden Hayes
- The Last Emperor (1987) as Reginald Johnston
- High Spirits (1988) as Peter Plunkett
- King Ralph (1991) as Sir Cedric Charles Willingham
- Fairy Tale (1997) as Arthur Conan Doyle
- Phantoms (1998) as Dr. Timothy Flyte
- Global Heresy (2002) as Lord Charles Foxley
- Troy (2004) as King Priam
- Lassie (2005) as The Duke
- Venus (2006) as Maurice Russell
- Stardust (2007) as the King of Stormhold
- Ratatouille (2007), voice of Anton Ego
- Decline of an Empire (2013) as Gallus, his last role
Live Action Television:
- Masada (1981) as General Cornelius Flavius Silva
- Gulliver's Travels (1996) as the emperor of Lilliput
- Hitler: The Rise of Evil (2003) as Paul von Hindenburg
- Imperium: Augustus (2003) as emperor Augustus Caesar
- Casanova (2005) as old Giacomo Casanova
- The Tudors (2007) as Pope Paul III
Tropes in his works:
- Doing It for the Art: He wanted to star in The Ruling Class so much that he waived his salary, appearing in the film for nothing.
- Dyeing for Your Art: O'Toole had naturally curly brown hair, but dyed it blond and straightened it to play Lawrence of Arabia. He apparently liked this style, or else felt it suited certain characters of his better than his natural color, as he switched repeatedly throughout his career.
- Large Ham: His tendency to overact was legendary. And awesome.
- Old Shame: He considered Troy to be one. He said in an interview that it wasn't his worst film (remember that the man played in Supergirl...), but that the experience of making this film was the worst of his career, due to an acrimonious relationship between himself and the director. He never watched the film as a result.
- The Queen's Latin: Got to play quite a few characters in ancient world (mainly Roman) settings, such as Tiberius in Caligula, Flavius Silva in Masada, king Priam in Troy, emperor Augustus in Imperium: Augustus and, finally, Gallus in Katherine of Alexandria.
- Star-Making Role: Lawrence of Arabia.
Tropes relating to the man:
- The Alcoholic: He was a notorious drinker right up until the late seventies when he had to have surgery to have his pancreas and a large portion of his stomach removed. He had a period of sobriety before reducing his intake.
- Byronic Hero: BRIAN BLESSED described him as such, in that he was truly mad, bad and dangerous to know. A brilliant actor, poet and wit who was also a hedonistic, self-destructive jerkass.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He was capable of moments of both great kindness and great cruelty.
- The Nicknamer: When he first met Omar Sharif, he insisted on calling him "Cairo Fred", because there wasn't a movie star in the world named Omar Sharif.note Toshiro Mifune was "Toshy", Phyllida Law (an actor he worked with in Bristol) was "Virgin Vinegar", Katharine Hepburn was "Nags" and Vanessa Redgrave was "Big Van".
- No-Hit Wonder: As mentioned above, he held a record of eight Oscar nominations without ever winning one. When he was given an honourary one in 2001, he said he'd seriously considered turning it down, as he was still working and "wanted to win the lovely bugger outright."
- Not a Morning Person: "The man who invented mornings was no Christian. I prefer to go straight into the afternoon".
- The Prima Donna: To give one example, when a production refused to send a car to take him to work, he replied, "No car, no me".
- Rags to Riches: He came from a working class background in Leeds.
- Raised Catholic: He and his sister were brought up in the Roman Catholic faith of their father and went to a Catholic school for seven or eight years, St Joseph's Secondary School at Joseph Street, Hunslet, where he was "implored" to become right-handedI used to be scared stiff of the nuns: their whole denial of womanhood the black dresses and the shaving of the hair was so horrible, so terrifying...Of course, that's all been stopped. They're sipping gin and tonic in the Dublin pubs now, and a couple of them flashed their pretty ankles at me just the other day.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With BRIAN BLESSED. The two had a relationship which veered from Blessed dragging O'Toole around his house yelling a "The Reason You Suck" Speech, to bonding over a mutual love of Shakespeare, to getting into fistfights over interpretations of Shakespeare to eventually co-starring in and co-producing a filmatization of Macbeth.
- What Beautiful Eyes!: O'Toole's most striking feature has always been his gorgeous bright blue eyes.