Actor Peter O’Toole set to retire

At the age of 79, Irish actor Peter O’Toole has announced that he is retiring from acting.

He released a statement to the press, saying “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.”

Over his 58 year long career, he was nominated for the Best Actor In A Leading Role Academy Award eight different times, losing each one. This makes him the most nominated actor never to have won. In 2003, the Academy presented him with the Academy Honorary Award for his entire body of work, for which he was initially unwilling to accept.

He wrote a letter asking the Academy to wait until he was 80 to award it, saying he was still in the game and would like more time to “win the lovely bugger outright,” but they told him they would be presenting it to him even if he didn’t want to accept it. Eventually he agreed to appear at the ceremony, once his children reprimanded him for not seeing it as the highest honour one could achieve in film. He accepted the award from Meryl Streep – the most nominated female actress – and joked, “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride, my foot,” when he took the stage.

His acting career began after serving the in the Royal Navy, learning the craft at London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art before taking on a variety of mostly Shakespearean stage roles.

In his statement, he noted that his career 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.”

It was 1962’s Lawrence of Arabia that pushed him from stage actor to screen star, earning him his first Oscar nomination.

Recently, Michael Caine commented on the generation of British actors that came about in those days, noting, “There was a group of us working-class actors, Peter O’Toole, Albert Finney, everybody, and we changed the way things were.” He remembered being O’Toole’s understudy in “The Long and the Short and the Tall,” which opened in London in 1959, and how that changed his career. “He did an incredible performance and he got Lawrence of Arabia, and then I took it on tour.”

Along with being nominated for Lawrence of Arabia, he was also nominated for 1964’s Becket, 1968’s The Lion in Winter, 1969’s Goodbye, Mr Chips, 1972’s The Ruling Class, 1980’s The Stunt Man, 1982’s My Favourite Year, and 2006’s Venus.

He has said he will now spend his time working on the third volume of his memoirs.

Watch Peter in the role that made him a star, in Lawrence of Arabia:

In his last Academy Award nominated role, as an old actor frustrated by his limited roles playing old dying men and royals in Venus:

Sources: Telegraph, Wikipedia

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