THR is reporting that legendary actor Peter O’Toole has retired from acting. The 79-year old Ireland-born, England-raised actor released a statement on Tuesday announcing his retirement after over sixty years of performing.
“It is time for me to chuck in the sponge. To retire from films and stage. The heart for it has gone out of me: it won’t come back,” O’Toole wrote. “My professional acting life, stage and screen, has brought me public support, emotional fulfillment and material comfort. It has brought me together with fine people, good companions with whom I’ve shared the inevitable lot of all actors: flops and hits. However, it’s my belief that one should decide for oneself when it is time to end one’s stay. So I bid the profession a dry-eyed and profoundly grateful farewell.”
O’Toole began working in the theatre, gaining recognition as a Shakespearean actor at the Bristol Old Vic and with the English Stage Company, before making his television debut in 1954. He first appeared on film in 1959 in a bit part in The Day They Robbed the Bank of England. O’Toole’s major break came when he was chosen to play T. E. Lawrence in David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia(1962), after Marlon Brando proved unavailable and Albert Finney turned down the role. His performance was ranked number one in Premiere magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Performances of All Time. The role introduced him to U.S. audiences and earned him the first of his eight nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actor.
O’Toole is one of a handful of actors to be Oscar-nominated for playing the same role in two different films; he played King Henry II in both 1964′s Becket and 1968′s The Lion in Winter. O’Toole playedHamlet under Laurence Olivier’s direction in the premiere production of the Royal National Theatre in 1963. He has also appeared in Seán O’Casey’s Juno and the Paycock at Gaiety Theatre, Dublin, and fulfilled a lifetime ambition when taking to the stage of the Irish capital’s Abbey Theatre in 1970 to perform in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot alongside Donal McCann. In 1980, he received wide critical acclaim for playing the director in the behind-the-scenes film The Stunt Man. He received good reviews as John Tanner in Man and Superman and Henry Higgins in Pygmalion, and won a Laurence Olivier Award for his performance in Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell(1989). O’Toole was nominated for another Oscar for 1982′s My Favorite Year, a light romantic comedy about the behind-the-scenes at a 1950s TV variety-comedy show, much like Your Show of Shows, in which O’Toole plays an ageing swashbuckling film star strongly reminiscent (intentionally) of Errol Flynn.
In 1972, he played both Miguel de Cervantes and his fictional creation Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha, the motion picture adaptation of the1965 smash hit Broadway musical, opposite Sophia Loren. Widely criticised for using mostly non-singing actors and shunned by the public at the time, the film has gone on to become more of a success on videocassette and DVD, though there are those who still find fault with it. O’Toole’s singing was dubbed by tenor Simon Gilbert, but the other actors sang their own parts. O’Toole and co-star James Coco, who played both Cervantes’s manservant and Sancho Panza, both received Golden Globe nominations for their performances. In 1980, O’Toole starred as Tiberius in the Penthouse-funded biographical film Caligula.
O’Toole won an Emmy Award for his role in the 1999 mini-series Joan of Arc. In 2004, O’Toole played King Priam in the summer blockbusterTroy. In 2005, he appeared on television as the older version of legendary 18th century Italian adventurer Giacomo Casanova in the BBC drama serial Casanova. O’Toole’s role was mainly to frame the drama, telling the story of his life to serving maid Edith (Rose Byrne). The younger Casanova, seen for most of the action, was played by David Tennant, who had to wear contact lenses to match his brown eyes to O’Toole’s blue.
He was once again nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award for his portrayal of Maurice in the 2006 film Venus, directed by Roger Michell, his eighth such nomination. Most recently, O’Toole co-starred in the Pixar animated film Ratatouille, an animated film about a rat with dreams of becoming the greatest chef in Paris, as Anton Ego, a food critic. O’Toole appeared in the second season of Showtime’s hit drama series The Tudors, portraying Pope Paul III, who excommunicates King Henry VIII from the church; an act that leads to a showdown between the two men in seven of the ten episodes.
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