O’Toole’s great voice silenced
Those of us who have watched Peter OToole through the decades have marveled at the way he delivered lines. The more important they seemed to be, the more OToole was inclined to understate them. And unlike many lesser actors, OToole played his age, starting with the movie that made him famous, Lawrence of Arabia in 1962.
If hed been any more beautiful, Noel Coward said, theyd have had to rename it Florence Of Arabia. OToole, 81, died Saturday. After years of hard living and serious health issues, he didnt look a day under 95.
In Lawrence, there is dialogue between OTooles Lawrence and a general:
I killed two people, OToole says. One was ... yesterday? He was just a boy and I led him into quicksand. The other was ... well, before Aqaba. I had to execute him with my pistol, and there was something about it that I didnt like. What then? the general says a few lines later. OToole says, striking just the right note: I enjoyed it. It was a horrifying admission by a character were supposed to like.
OToole was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won none, a record for futility. He received an honorary Oscar in 2003.
Those are movies, damn you! he shouted in 1982s My Favorite Year. The rest of the line may have been OToole yelling at his admirers. Look at me! Im flesh and blood, life-size, no larger! Im not that silly goddamned hero! I never was!
Three years after his honorary Oscar, OToole earned his last nomination, for Venus, in which his performance may have surpassed all the others. (He played a dying and aging actor. Not much of a stretch, certainly.)
He befriends the grandniece of another aging actor. Its not a lustful relationship, and the young woman lets him down late in the movie. But he doesnt let her down. At the end, after taking a walk, they sit by the seaside.
Now, OToole says as he leans against her, in perhaps the most melancholy and poignant line he has ever delivered, we can really talk.