Sunday, December 15, 2013
Almost ten years ago, I spent five weeks in London doing research for a book that never got written. I saw a few operas and concerts, and also went to see the big-screen action/history film Troy, in which Brad Pitt gives perhaps the worst performance of his career as Achilles. (A friend who says Pitt is a great character actor with a leading man's face has it just right.) Eric Bana's Hector impressed me greatly, but then 2/3 of the way through the film, there was an actor I did not recognize as Priam, Hector's father, giving a towering performance while pleading for his son's body.
The credits finally crawled, seemingly hours later, and with them came the explanation: it was Peter O'Toole.
O'Toole has died, age 81, leaving behind a long, long career of extreme carousing and great acting in films great and small, from Lawrence of Arabia, in which he is young, beautiful, and tortured, to cult favorites such as My Favorite Year and The Stunt Man. Nominated eight times for an Academy Award as Best Actor, he didn't win even once. (If you're wondering what could possibly have topped O'Toole's Lawrence, it was Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch. And there was a lot of competition that year.)
RIP, Peter O'Toole, and deep thanks for all the memorable movies.