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Thread: What I've Learned: Peter O'Toole
01-25-07, 11:07 PM #1
What I've Learned: Peter O'Toole
What I've Learned: Peter O'Toole
Actor, 74, London
By Stephen Garrett
(Peter O’Toole’s work in Venus has been honored with an Oscar nomination for Actor in a Leading Role.)
Anarchic, arbitrary sexual urges -- there's not a man or woman who doesn't love and has not been disturbed by them.
I've never looked for women. When I was a teenager, perhaps. But they are looking for us, and we must learn that very quickly. They decide. We just turn up. Never mind the superficialities -- tall and handsome and all that. Just turn up. They will do the rest.
I was obsessed with losing it for four years. How did it happen? Alfresco, at night. On the steps of an old chapel -- I shan't say where. Two semiprofessional mill girls. Me and another bloke and two girls. Exultation. Wow -- it was very good!
I don't think I've changed much from my boyhood.
Six years: 1939 to 1945. It was life. One's literacy was newspapers, bombs, Germans. We didn't have a childhood. We had the war.
From both my mother and father I learned endurance. Things were pretty tough. But things could be tougher.
Listen, everybody was offered the part of Lawrence of Arabia: Marlon Brando, Greta Garbo, Groucho Marx. Everybody but me. They all turned it down for various reasons. And David Lean had banked his life on that picture. David's wife was seeing a guru at the time, and this guru had seen a film called The Day They Robbed the Bank of England, in which I played a silly English officer. And the guru told her that he had just seen the man who should play Lawrence.
The Bedouin are about five foot, so I spent two years pretending I wasn't tall. I became telescopic.
May I tell you a camel story? It was the charge at 'Aqaba -- a mile and a half, and we were in front of five hundred Arab stallions. The day of the shooting, we turned up to the kickoff. And Omar -- a gambling man, Omar -- worked out the odds of whether he would fall off. So he tied himself to the camel. And I said, I'm going to get drunk. So we both drank milk and brandy -- it was terrifying -- and a mile and a half later, horses, madness, we both finish up in the sea. And Omar was upside down with his head in the water, still tied to the camel.
After Lawrence, nothing changed. I could afford to go places and I was let into places. But nothing changed.
I love bullfighting. I love the dance, I love the courage, I love the style, I love the skill. I love everything about it.
When we were drama students, we imitated John Gielgud, we imitated Richard Burton, we imitated Michael Redgrave, we imitated Larry Olivier. It's language. For my generation, drama, the theater, plays, they are human speech as an art form. To turn up for material that exists and say, "No, I'm superior to that material" is a very strange attitude. I'd be very careful if I were you.
If you go to the West End theaters now, it's a graveyard. Lots of musicals, they're cheerful. But the plays? God almighty.
New York nearly fifty years ago was one of the most magical places ever. And one of its most endearing qualities was its playfulness. If you had a bit of scratch -- not much, but a bit -- you could do anything, go anywhere, get anything, get away with anything.
Everything you hear about the true American spirit -- the matriarchy and the femininity and the toughness -- you find in Kate Hepburn. She was funny as hell and brave and dotty. Kate! I gave my daughter her name.
Years later, in Ireland, daughter Kate, then nine or ten, said, "Daddy, there's an old Gypsy woman at the door!" We had a Gypsy nearby who would pinch our flowers. I went to the door and said, "No, thank you, we don't -- oh, hello, Kate." She had four jackets on. One belonged to Barrymore, one to Spencer Tracy, one to me, and one to Humphrey Bogart. Khaki trousers and boots -- this was her uniform.
On racetracks, green is considered unlucky. To be disobedient in a way that can't be seen, I wear green socks. I have since I was fourteen.
For Christ's sake, we all have eccentricities. We're all crippled with them, aren't we?
Richard Burton and I lived around the corner from each other in Hampstead -- before Elizabeth Taylor, before anything. He'd come to my place or I'd go to his. And then we'd carry the other home. Elizabeth wasn't keen on that. She probably thought I led him astray. I don't know. She didn't approve. That was a bone of contention between me and Richard. I said, "If you now need permission to come see me, then you go f**k yourself, you old git!"
I drink now. But not like before. Christ, who could?
We live public lives. If you want to guard your privacy, stop it.
Comedy is among the most difficult crafts. I've never known a good actor who couldn't play comedy. I know no actor who finds it easy.
My favorite smell? Cordite. After you've fired a gun.
Good parts make good actors. I take them as they come.
We are the thin blue line
and all the money in the world.
And no you can't have any.
01-25-07, 11:25 PM #2
Have you ever seen "My FavoriteYear?"
One of my favorite movies - and he was brilliant!Molly Weasley makes Chuck Norris eat his vegetables.
Do not puff, shade, skew, tailor, firm up, stretch, massage,
or otherwise distort statements of fact.FBI Special Agent Coleen Rowley
01-26-07, 11:12 AM #3
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