Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Peter O'Toole announces retirement from acting

"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."

And so ends the career of one of the highest respected performers in cinema history, no understatement to be absolutely certain. But perhaps that is the reason O'Toole is packing it in now, having been so entirely focused and devoted to it for several years. The man's been nominated for the Academy Award eight times, a record for performers who have not won a single award. He did, however, receive the Honorary Award in 2003 for his body of work, past and future. But when the spark is gone, it's absolutely gone, and there's little sense in sticking with something you just don't have the passion for anymore. We can only be happy for O'Toole deciding now to walk away from it.

In the past, O'Toole has lost to Gregory Peck ("To Kill a Mockingbird"), Rex Harrison ("My Fair Lady"), Cliff Robertson ("Charly"), John Wayne ("True Grit"), Marlon Brando ("The Godfather"), Robert De Niro ("Raging Bull"), Ben Kingsley ("Gandhi"), and Forest Whitaker ("The Last King of Scotland". It's left to your interpretation whether or not they deserved to win against his performances in "Lawrence of Arabia", "Becket", "The Lion in Winter", "Goodbye, Mr. Chips", "The Ruling Class", "The Stunt Man", "My Favorite Year", and "Venus", respectively. Upon receiving the Honorary Oscar, O'Toole stated that he was "still in the game" and wished to "win the lovely bugger outright". At some point, I suppose, to be still trying takes its toll.

All the same, O'Toole isn't entirely out of the game as it is. IMDB credits him with three films this year, two of them being the already critically dismissed "El Dorado" and "For Greater Glory". His last film this year is titled "Katherine of Alexandria", which admittedly doesn't look much like Academy material. He is listed in pre-production on "Mary Mother of Christ" for 2013, which similarly doesn't seem to shriek for Oscar attention. Indeed he may be recognized most for what he's not been recognized for, not just his nominated work. I can't say for sure, having not even seen his nominated films (I know; I feel ashamed). However, I was inspired by simply his voice work in "Ratatouille", so that must say something for the legacy of this man.

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