After six decades in film and on television, the great Peter O’Toole has announced that he will be retiring from acting at 79 years old.
O’Toole first gained recognition as a Shakespearean actor at the Bristol Old Vic and the English Stage Company before making his mark on the big screen in David Lean’s extraordinary biographical epic, Lawrence of Arabia (1962). His dynamic performance as T.E. Lawrence brought him international acclaim and the first of eight career Academy Award nominations.
From there, O’Toole had notable turns in Becket (1964) and Lord Jim (1965), before delivering a forceful portrayal of King Henry II opposite Katharine Hepburn’s Queen Eleanor in The Lion in Winter (1968).
He continued to deliver quality performances in Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969) and The Ruling Class (1972), though he had his share of flops, most notably in the 1970s. O’Toole stepped back into the limelight with nominations for his roles in The Stunt Man (1980) and My Favorite Year (1982).
In his later years, O’Toole played more supporting roles in The Last Emperor (1987), King Ralph (1991) and Troy (2005). His final Oscar nomination came late in his career for his performance in Venus (2006) as an elderly man who falls for a much younger girl (Jodie Whittaker) barely out of her teens. He was the sentimental favorite to win the Academy Award, but lost to Forest Whitaker’s dynamic turn as Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland (2006).
O’Toole cited his lack of desire to continue acting as the reason for his retirement, though he also stated that he had found great personal, emotional and financial fulfillment from the profession he practiced with such mastery for the better part of 60 years.
Peter O’Toole as T.E. Lawrence in ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ (1962)/Sony Pictures and as King Henry II in ‘The Lion in Winter’ (1968)/New Line Home Entertainment