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Peter O’Toole (1932-2013)

1 .  Montgomery Clift, Suddenly Last Summer, 1959.  
Clift was in a bad way.  Rolling in agony on the carpet, suffering from drugs,  drinking himself blotto. And trembling  - not good for a psycho-surgeon like Dr Cukrowicz.  Producer Sam Spiegel wanted to sack him after the first rushes.  "Over my dead body," stormed Liz Taylor, banning the producer from his own set. He secretly engineered a replacement but during his test as the surgeon, O'Toole  held an x-ray and then looked directly at the camera and said: “It's all right, Mrs  Spiegel, your son will never  play the violin again!”  Spiegel was furious: "He’ll never work for me again!" Well, not until he really needed him for...  Lawrence of Arabia, 1962.  (O’Toole’s manager, Jules Buck, had been part of the Spiegel-John Huston’s Horizon Pictures, and  Huston’s cameraman for his classic WWII documentary, The Battle of San Pietro).   

2. -    Stanley Baker, Blind Date (US: Chance Meeting), 1959.    Impressed by "his prodigious talent" at the Bristol Old Vic, the exiled US director Joseph Losey and scenarist Ben Barzman wrote Inspector Morgan for O'Toole, right  down to the cold the actor had when they met. But a British star name was required to off-set the foreign leads: German Hardy Kruger and French Micheline Presle.  Losey  said, sadly, that O'Toole was later persuaded to  change  his nose.  "A grave error. His nose wasn't ugly.” Losey recommended Peter to Nicholas Ray for The Savage Innocents.   Ian Holm on Peter: "There was something gladiatorial and threatening about him. An enigma, wrapped in charisma and sprinkled with booze."  Drowned, more like it.

3. -    Kieron Moore, The Day They Robbed The Bank of England, 1960.    Rather than the obvious, "rather lunatic, mad Irishman," he took the smaller role of a young Guards officer. "A bit of an idiot -or is he?"This was O’Toole’sway to battle typecasting. "I was then playing in The Long, The Short and The Tall onstage and Jules Buck was one of the few American producers who could see me in any other way than a Cockney savage." By the end of their first meeting, they were friends and forming Keep Films.

4. -    Laurence Harvey, The Long, The Short and The Tall (US: Jungle Fighters),   1960.  WWII in the Malaysian jungle and the Japanese zone… UK director  Leslie Norman wanted O’Toole, who’d made his name on stage as Private ‘Bammo’ Bamforth (when the signed star, Albert Finney, got appendicits).  For the film, Hollywood wanted a name even though Harvey was as unsuitable as he had been for Room At The Top.  "They made me have Harvey...  He and Richard Harris let the film down. Harris because he resented Harvey, despised him - and they didn’t get on with Richard Todd." Norman (Barry’s father) was miming all the dialogue when  I was on the set. Michael Caine, who’d served in Korean war,  was O’Toole’s stage understudy but never went on. O’Toole just always made it  in time. Just. Caine had the role for the Scottish  tour ("my first  step towards becoming a star")  and his mate, Terence  Stamp,  was Sammy Whitaker, the wireles operator.

5. -    Albert Finney, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, 1960.     Future 007 producer Harry Saltzman's idea for Arthur Seaton was not really dangerously macho enough for"don't let the bastards grind ya down!"

6. -    Richard Harris, Mutiny on the Bounty, 1962.    One Irishman or another seeemed to be the MGM thinking regarding the role of Seaman John Mills. O’Toole, of course was otherwise engaged with a much finer epic. Lawrence of Arabia.

7. -    Richard Burton, Cleopatra, 1963.

8. -  Sean Connery, Marnie, 1963.      After Marlon Brando and Paul Newman passed, Alfred Hitchcock  looked at O’Toole and Rock Hudson for his hero, Mark Rutland.   Then, Cubby Broccoli  showed  Hitch some glimpses of Dr No … and,  although, he didn’t match theAmerican aristocrat hero one jot, the role was Sean’s.  He took two more films  from O’Toole:  The Man Who Would Be King, 1975, and The Name of the Rose, 1986. 

9. -    Dick Van Dyke, Mary Poppins, 1963.    

OK, chimney sweep Bert had to sing and dance it up. But he also had to be at home with a Cockney accent. Only a few US stars could manage that. Sadly, Van Dyke was not among them. Nor were Fred Astaire, Cary Grant or Danny Kaye…UK author PL Travers didn’t like how books were Hollywoodised and took 25 years to accept Walt Disney’s plan for her governess. She then felt the result “vulgar and disrespectful” - and, like most Brits, loathed Van Dyke’s Bert. But then she knew nothing about cinema, having suggested the august (and aged) Alec Guinness, Rex Harrison. Even Laurence Olivier  - To sweep, or not to sweep… Plus Richards Burton and Harris, Peters O’Toole and Sellers. (Only Sellers made sense). Disney wanted Stanley Holloway - busy reprising his My Fair Lady stage role. Loving the movie but feeling miscast, Van Dyke nominated Jim Dale (a Disney star in the 70s) and agreed with Travers about Ron Moody… who would have frightened not only the horses but the kids, as well.

10 - Tom Tryon, The Cardinal, 1963.   The sudden blip in producer-director-ogre Otto Preminger’s track record was caused by lamentable casting. Tyron, happier later as a novelist, was never the actor Otto tried to force him to be… during the rise and rise of the titular Vatican favourite, reportedly based on New York’s powerful (and Senator Joe McCarthy loving) Cardinal Spellman. Preminger tested three bores Tyron, Bradford Dillman, Cliff Robertson; considered total opposites Hugh O’Brian, Stuart Whitman; and, according to Tyron, refused the better O’Toole, Albert Finney, even the (way too old) Gregory Peck. O’Toole replaced Robert Mitchum when Preminger sacked him during Rosebud, 1974.

11 - Rex Harrison, My Fair Lady, 1963.  
"Someone from Warners approached  me and I said they were  potty. The only man in the world who should play Higgins  was Rex."  It would have been O’Toole’s first musical sinceOh! My Papaat the Bristol Old  Vic in 1957. "My voice is like a broken bottle going under a door."  (And he’d heard many of those). He made the musical version of  Goodbye, Mr Chips, opposite Petula  Clark, in 1968. Head Brother Jack Warner had several other Professors in mind. From the inspired (NoëlCoward, Cary Grant, George Sanders) to the plain stupid (Rock Hudsons as a grumpy English gentleman?). Plus dowdy Michael Redgrave, who had the style but the box-office appeal of George Zucco.  (Who?)  (Exactly!) O’Toole, was too pricey after Lawrence of Arabiato be Higgins of London. His agents wanted $400,000. Harrison’s accepted half that He was livid on finding co-star Audrey Hepburn (35 playing 19) was on a cool $1m. O’Toole  finally showed off his Higgins in a tele-movie of Pygmalion- the basis of My Fair Lady- in 1984.  And a Broadway production three years later. 

12 - Richard Harris,The Bible: In the Beginning, 1964.    Italian producer Dino De Laurentiis wanted each Old Testament filmed by such notables as Bergman, Fellini, Visconti, Welles. John Huston replaced them all for just 20 Genesis verses - "I wouldn't go a verse furtherAnd played Noah and played God talking to Noah…  He wanted his new drinking buddy for Cain but Dino signed Harris first, so O‘Toole became The Three Angels and really stoie what Time Magazine famously compared to being swallowed by a whale. Huston tried to work with O’Toole again but othert mae Waterlooand The Man Who Would Be King- and Will Adams, co-starring Toshiro Mifune, never happened.

13 -   Richard Burton, Becket, 1964.    The pals swopped roles - at Liz Taylor's canny suggestion. O'Toole became Henry II saying: "Nobody could play Becket like he did - as a sort of sacred coal-miner!"

14 -   Omar Sharif, Doctor Zhivago, 1965.     Close to the top of impeccable director David Lean's thoughts, despite being too extrovert. "I'd rather suppress his exhibitionism than attempt to coax strength out of a lily."Never happened because (a) Lean's previous producer, Sam Spiegel, refused to release O'Toole from two movies(b) someone slipped him an unimpressive script draft and (c) he had not recovered from the gruelling Lawrence of Arabia shoot with Lean. O'Toole's refusal caused a rift between the two that never healed.

15 -   James Mason, Lord Jim, 1965.      Feeling too old (at 33!) for another action hero, O’Toole said he’d prefer to be Gentleman Brown. Auteur Richard Brooks said No. “You have to be the hero!”

16 -    Sean Connery, Thunderball, 1965.

17 -    Rod Taylor, Young Cassidy, 1965.    While director John Ford debated Harris v O’Toole, to play Sean O’Casey, the dying playwright recommended Donal Donnelly or Norman Rodway to play his earlydays. Fortunately, poorO’Casey was deadby 1964 and never saw the mess - finished by director Jack Cardiff.

 

18 -    James Fox, The Chase, 1966.

Livid that his contract with producer Sam Spiegel prevented him being Doctor Zhivago, O'Toole  decided to refuse this "ghastly" Spiegel movie.    "I have a block. I can't play Americans  -  anybody, any accent, but American. It's like Americans speaking English. Never works, misses by aninch,out of synch, out of juxt. Only Sellers can do it perfectly."  Sam made money out of his other Lawrence of Arabia find, Omar Sharif, playing Zhivago, so why let OToole do it? Sam then inisisted the Irishman and  Egyptian, play Nazis  in  The Night of the Generals. This was the first of Sam’s  seven  consecutive flops 1965-1983. Minus  David Lean, Sam was a zero. 

 

19 -    Robert Shaw, A Man For All Seasons, 1966.     One dream line-up featured Laurence Olivier and Alec Guinness, with O'Toole promoted from Becket’s King Henry II to King Henry VIII.  O’Toole and Shaw were, of course, drinking buddies and once raced their Rolls-Royces from London to Brighton.  Boozing pals waved them off. No ne knew who won as they were not seen again for three days. 

20 -    Guy Stockwell, Beau Geste, 1966.      Universal had fleeting thoughts about a British superstar version - with Richard Burton, Albert Finney, O'Toole -until counting the cost and relegating it tocontract slaves on the back lot desert.

 

21 -   Richard Burton, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 1966.      Elizabeth Taylor had $1.1m, 30 extra lbs and approval of almost everything. Certainly about who should be George. She accepted Canadian Hill, Broadway’s Tony-winning George, until realising she had one at home. Burton had encouraged her to accept the challenge of being Martha. Now she did likewise for him. (Some critics complained about his English accent- better than his Welsh!) All of which means it was Liz who rejected: Henry Fonda, Cary Grant, Jack Lemmon, James Mason and the Burtons’ pal, O’Toole.

22 -    Cyril Cusack, Fahrenheit 451, 1966.    As if he didn’t have enough pressures - first film in colour, first in English, a lingo he was far from confident with - French nouvelle vagueicon FrançoisTruffaut also suffered four years of  casting hurdles…. starting with Paul Newman as the fireman hero, Montag. When feeling Ray Bradbury’s story was too important to be shot in English(!), the réalisateur tried his past and future stars, Charles Aznavour, Jean-Paul Belmondo - and Oskar Werner as Montag’s boss. Producer Lewis Allen wanted Sterling Hayden in either role; or O’Toole, Richard Burton, Albert Finney or Max Von Sydow as the captain. Producer Sam Spiegel even tried muscling in by promising Richard Burton… bossing a Robert Redford and loving Elizabeth Taylor!

23-    Maurice Roëves, Ulysses, 1966.    Wolf Mankowitz adapted the James Joyce classic for his then pal - and business partner - Peter Sellers as Leopold Bloom, Diane Cilento as his wife, Molly, andO’Toole as Stephen Dedalus in Dublin on June 16, 1904.

24 -    Rex Harrison, Dr Dolittle, 1966.    O’Toole let it be known, as they say, he was keen on being the top-hatted doctor who wished he could walk, talk, grunt,  squeak and squawk with the animals. “But they didn't like that at all.” Fox worked through a short-list of Alec Guinness, Peter Sellers, Jack Lemmon, Peter Ustinov and (as he was called behnd his back, Tyrannosaurus Rex.  

25 -    Cyril Cusack, Fahrenheit 451, 1966.    As if he didn’t have enough pressures - first film in colour, first in English, a lingo he was far from confident with - French nouvelle vague icon François Truffaut also suffered four years of casting hurdles…. starting with Paul Newman as the fireman hero, Montag. When feeling Ray Bradbury’s story was too important to be shot in English (!), the réalisateur tried his past and future stars, Charles Aznavour, Jean-Paul Belmondo - and Oskar Werner as Montag’s boss. Producer Lewis Allen wanted Sterling Hayden in either role; or O’Toole, Richard Burton, Albert Finney or Max Von Sydow as the captain. Producer Sam Spiegel even tried muscling in by promising Richard Burton… bossing a Robert Redford and loving Elizabeth Taylor!

26 - David Niven, Casino Royale, 1966.

 

27 -    Terence Stamp, Histoires extraordinaires (UK/US: Spirits of the Dead), France-Italy, 1967.    

Getting back into action after the collapse of The Voyage de G Mastorna (the best film he never made), Federico Fellini joined the Edgar Allen Poe sketch project. (The other directors, Claude Chabrol, Joe Losey, Luchino Visconti, Orson Welles shrunk to just Louis Malle and Roger Vadim). Fellini fell for Poe’s Never Bet The Devil Your Head, with a celeb-stressed actor, the titular Toby Dammit, running amok at Cinecittà.   A cordial meet in London later turned nasty...  With O’Toole screaming “Fascist!” and Fellini replying FU!  He then called up Burton, James Fox and ultimately, Terry put his Stamp on it.  “I do think about my career as before and after Fellini,” Stamp told Alex Simon, “because that was such a landmark for me. I knew he’d written Toby for O’Toole and I knew Peter wouldn’t do it. I knew I was the second choice. But he loved me and the price was that I love him back, which wasn’t hard. So those four weeks were a real rush for me and it was only because of what had happened to me during the Fellini shoot that I was able to give the kind of performance in Teorema that I was able to. Fellini got the best acting out of me I’d ever done at that point.”

 

28 -    Dirk Bogarde, Sebastian, 1967.     Failing to get any of the New Wave Brits (Michael Caine, Patrick McGoohan, O'Toole), director Michael Powell settled for The Old Guard who had Ill Met By Moonlight for him in1957. "I was lost, the picture was lost and I lost control of the picture."

29 -    Franco Nero, Camelot, 1967.     The Burtons as Arthur and Guenevere with O'Toole as Lancelot Du Lac. Way too expensive!    

30 -    David Hemmings, The Charge of the Light Brigade, 1968.    In the saddle when producer Joseph E Levine tried to buy out LaurenceHarvey's interest.

 

31 -    Ron Moody, Oliver! 1968.       Composer Lionel Bart sued O'Toole who, allegedly,had said he wouldplay Fagin - for free.And didn't. Moody never dreamt he’d be offered the film “because of the backstage hostilities during the original stage show. Carol Reed had never directed a musical before, and took me to lunch to ask me how he should go about it. Once I was officially given the role, I was allowed the freedom to direct myself.”

32 -   Franco Nero, A Professional Gun, Italy-Spain, 1968.    He topped the tortilla Western cast when producer Alberto Grimaldi first announced Il mercenario for O’Toole, Burt Lancaster and Antonella Lualdi for director Gillo Pontecorvo in1967. When Sergio Corbucci started helming a year later, his stars were Nero, Tony Musanteand Giovanna Ralli.

33 - Richard Burton, Anne of the Thousand Days, 1968.   Producer Hal Wallis was musing upon O'Toole for Henry VIII and Geraldine Chaplin, Julie Christie, Faye Dunaway, Olivia Hussey or Charlotte Rampling as his second, luckless wife, Anne Boleyn - mother of Elisabeth I. Oh and Elizabeth Taylor when Richard Burton finally became the king. O’Toole was too thin and Burton too short…

34 -    David Hemmings, Alfred The Great, 1969.      Announced in 1964. Two years before Hemmings exploded in Blow Up.

35 -    David  Hemmings, Fragment of Fear, 1969.       Billed as... A phantasmagoria of fright!.

36 - Robert Stephens, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, 1969.    Iconic director Billy Wilder wanted Britain's two Peter The Greats - O'Toole and Sellers - in a musical planned with My Fair Lady's Lerner & Loewe team.Wilder then went straight with no music. And no star baggage. When O’Toole dithered about the unfinished script and Wilder never wanted to see Sellers again after the 1963 Kiss Me, Stupid debacle - a match for the Sherlock disaster!  (O’Toole voiced Holmes in four animated tele-movies produced by Australia’s Burbank Films in 1982).

37 -  Petula Clark, Goodbye Mr Chips,1969.   Cary Grant-Hepburn begat Rex Harrison-Samantha Eggar, who begat Burton-Julie Andrews, who begat Burton-Lee Remick, who begat Burton-Hepburn, who begat Burton-Petula Clark... until Burton blew up about working with a mere singer.  So he begat Peter O’Toole.  (Peter and Audrey had made  the duff caper, movie, How To Steal a Million, in 1965).

38 - Richard Warwick, The Breaking of Bumbo, 1969.   John Osborne and Tony Richardson asked O’Toole to be  Bumbo Bailey, of the Fusilier Guards, during London’s Swinging 60s - but in amusical version of director  Andrew Sinclair’s novel.  He finally made it himself, unmusically - and unfunnily. He then won O’Toole as blind Captain Tom Cat,  having already won Richard Burton, for his next, slighly better but ever wordy adaptation of the Dylan Thomas radio play, Under Milk Wood,famously narrated by Burton in 1954. ”To begin at the beginning: It is spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobblestreets silent and the hunched, courters'-and-rabbits' wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboatbobbing sea…" The village is called Llareggub (try it backwards).Elizabeth Taylor turned up as Cat’s whore, Rosie Probert. ”She’s not even Welsh,” complained Sinclair. “Your problem,” he ws told. “You’ve got her for two days – or no film!”   He made two more equally inconsequential films  - nothing since 1982.

39 -    Tom Baker, Nicholas and Alexandra, 1970.     Despite the failure of The Night of the Generals (largely due to the way O’Toole played his Nazi murderer), producer Sam Spiegel wanted his Lawrence as Rasputin.  Rasputin!   OK, he had the right flair… but a far better movie, The Ruling Class. It was Laurence Olivier, cast as Count Witte, who recommended one of his  National Theatre discoveries to Spiegel. 

40 -   Christopher Jones, Ryan's Daughter, 1970.     Once MarlonBrando changed his mind about being the war hero lover, scenarist Robert Bolt suggested three names to his director David Lean: Richard Burton, Richard Harris and O'Toole. Lean then chose a zero.

41 - Dean Martin, “something big,” 1970.   That’s the correct title because that’s what Dino, Brian Keith and Ben Johnson keep saying in the odd Western penned by James Lee Barrett for O’Toole of Arabia. It reminded critic Roger Ebert of Sinatra’s final films, where “the personality and off-screen persona of the star is actually thought to be more important than what’s going on.” Sinatra’s British friend, Carol White (or as he called her: Carolwhite), was the Dino-chasing Dover McBride.

 

42 -  Christopher Plummer, Waterloo, 1971.

Director John Huston dreamt of...  Burton and O'Toole as Napoleon and Wellington "It got postponed, rather unhappily because that was going to be a real jump-in," said O'Toole. "A character part in probably the most mliterate script I've read since Becket - and The Big Fella directing!"  In  fact, O’Toole was so keen that he and his business partner, Jules Buck, serioulsy thought of buying the project from Italian producer Dino de Laurentiis and  Russia’s Mosfilm. When that didn’t work, nor did O’Toole. Russia's Sergei Bondarchuk selected  Rod Steiger and Plummer. 

 

43 - Zalman King, The Ski Bum, 1971.   A preposterous 1967 notion from producer Martin Poll.  And yet, out of it came Poll’s next offer, The Lion in Winter. Might as well do it before I die.” So, he was Henry II again, older, wiser, sinceBecket - opposite Katharine Hepburn as Eleanor of Aquitaine Kate (he named his daughter after her) called him Pig, he called her Nags, because she did. “But I adored the girl.” “He was the most extraordinary actor I’d ever seen,”said Anthony Hopkins, playing one of the kingt’s three argumentative sons.  But back to Ski Bum- it was the reason Zalman King quit acting.  He later scripted 9 1/2 Weeksand directed a succession of copy-cat soft-core bores like a cut-price John Derek.

44 -    Robert Foxworth, Hogan's Goat, TV, 1971.     A notion more grandiose than the script - the Burtons, O'Toole and Spencer Tracy! William Alfred's blank-verse Broadway play was just not importantenough.It wound up as a PBS special.

45 - Del Henney, Straw Dogs, 1971.   Director Sam Peckinpah already had Dustin  Hoffman as his weak hero, but still wanted Harris or Peter O’Toole as the Cornish lout raping Hoffman’s screen wife, Susan George. Twice - “raped and then buggered,” as Peckinpah told her.  Sue bravely said she’d quit rather than agree to his overly explicit portrayal of the assaults. He gave in and kept his camera on her face, not her body.  Cuts by the UK censor made the (three minute) sequence worse by actually implying sodomy.

46 -    Franco Nero, Le Moine/The Monk,France, 1972.    His interest vanished once the package no longer included Spanish director Luis Buñuel and O'Toole's Great Catherine in 1968:Jeanne Moreau.

47 -    Michael Caine, X  Y and Zee, 1972.     "Under-rated," said O’Toole, "because the early 70s went right out of fashion,even more than the 60s." Caine had been O’Toole’s understudy in the London stage production of The Long and the Short and the Tall in those same 60s. 

48 -    John Hurt, The Naked Civil Servant, TV, 1975.    O'Toole as the titular Quentin Crisp - what a delicious idea!  Although, no one could have bettered Hurt.

49 - Paul Scofield, A Delicate Balance, 1973.    "There’s a tinker woman coming up the drive," said his daughters. It proved to be Katharine Hepburn but she’d chosen the wrong moment to visit O’Toole with a job offer at his Irish home at Clifden. He was 40, Man of La Mancha had flopped and he’d plainly had enough of movies. Even one based on the Pulitzer Prize-wnning Edward Albee play.  Kate understood and turned to Scofield and… yes, O’Toole’s dispair disipated and he played a further 72 screen roles until 2014. However, for every Last Emperor there was a Caligula, for each Stunt Man, a Supergirl… He was right. The best roles were behind him.

50 -    David Bowie, The Man Who Fell To Earth, 1975.
Director Nicolas Roeg was very keen on "his Garbo quality." Or what Ian Holm called  "an enigma wrapped in charisma and sprinkled with booze." Bowie told Movieline in 1982: ”It was the first thing I'd ever done… I was totally insecure with about 10 grams [of cocaine] a day in me. I was stoned out of my mind from beginning to end."Cinematographer Tony Richmond could never visualize  anyone else as the alien, Newton. “Bowie was so strange, so ethereal, so androgynous.  Great to work with – a bit weird, but great. I never saw him using any drugs on set. He had a minder looking after him, as well as a chauffeur, Tony Mascia, who played the same role in the film.”  Bowie always said he built Newton upon his memories of Tony Newley’s cult TV series, The Strange World of Gurney Slade - a prophetic kind  of pre-Monty Python, too bizarre for the great unwashed, circa 1960, that ATV quickly switched it from prime time  to late night.  Blowe was not alone  among UK rock stars influenced by Newley and Gurney…  and Newley as Gurney.

 

  (Clic to enlarge)  
 

* The lanky Irishman was first choice. And for the same reason that David Bowie succeeded him.  Director Nicholas Roeg wanted “a definite, pointedly stark face.”  Or indeed... extra-terrestrial.   [Illustration by Graham Marsh, 1976]

 

 

51 -    Ian McShane, Jesus of Nazareth, TV, 1977.        Ill health forced him to quit being Judas Iscariot in the The Bible according to Lew Grade’s apostles, FrancoZefferelli and Anthony Burgess.

52 -    Sean Connery, The Man Who Would Be King, 1975.

53 - Timothy Dalton, Sexette, 1978.      Happily passed on Mae West's (lamentable) finale. Ian Holm again: "There was something unconsciously gladiatorial and threatening about him... strangely ridiculous, often riveting and unpredictably raw."

 

54 -  Donald Pleasence, Halloween, 1978.   

Hitchcock fan auteur John Carpenter searched high and low for his shrink, Dr Sam Loomis. Peter O’Toole and the Hammer horrors, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee versus Charles Napier, Lawrence Tierney, Abe Vigoda. The $300,00 shoestring budget couldn’t afford any of them! Same for Lloyd Bridges, David Carradine, Kirk Douglas, Steven Hill, Walter Matthau… even such off-the-wall surprises as John Belushi, Mel Brooks, Yul Brynner, Edward Bunker, Sterling Hayden, Dennis Hopper, Kris Kristofferson… and Dick’s brother, Jerry Van Dyke. Pleasence said he only made tthe film because his daughter told him to! She’d loved Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13… He also told Carpenter he’d never hadn’t read the script, nor Loomis. “Only later,” said Carpenter, “after [we] became close friends, did I realise he was finding out how much I loved the movie I was making.” Incidentally, Loomis was named after John Gavin’s Psycho character; his screen lover was Janet Leigh, mother of Carpenter’s heroine, Jamie Lee Curtis. So it flows.

 

55 - Christopher Plummer, Murder By Decree, 1979.    Second offer to play Sherlock Holmes.Not even the extra carrot of Olivier as Watson tempted O'Toole. They just couldn't get on. Mason could (and should) have played both roles! O'Toole finally became Holmes (or his voice) in the early 80s foran elegant collection of four 50-minutes Sherlock cartoons made for TV.

56  - David Warner, TRON, 1981.     When invited to play the villain, Dillinger, and his digital world version, Sark, O’Toole studied the scenario and…

57 - Bruce Boxleitner, TRON, 1981.   … said he’d be far more interested in playing Alan Bradley and his digital counterpart, Tron. Disney, however, was aiming younger.  If it could be said that the nonsense was aimed in any other direction  than dullsville.   

58 -    George Segal, Killing ’Em Softly, Canada, 1982.    From same book that led to French realisateur Louis Malle's Atlantic City, 1980. Max Fischer intended shooting around O'Toole, while busy in Hollywood.Then, due to tax deadlines, he had to quit. Enter: Segal. Exit:the film!

59 -    Jonathan Pryce, Something Wicked This Way Comes, 1983.   Something awful that way went. 

60 - Tatsya Nakadai, Ran, Japan-France, 1984.   O’Toole was usually  better on stage than screen where he was often more ham than mustard.  Laurence Olivier said his Hamlet came closest to the man - while crtitics felt his Macbethwas absurd, yet he  hoped  to film it with Meryl Streep, Bryan Forbes directing. Earlier, he planned aLear film with a more iullustrious maestro, the Japanese, Akira Kurosawa. "He knew Lear in his bones, that monolithic feudal thing," he told Playboy in 1965.  Nobody stumped up a budget. Then, with the aid of fanbboys George Lucas and Steven Spileberg, he made Kagemushaas a 1979 rehearsal for his very own Lear(three sons,  not daughters, similar to his his three agumentative son when Henry II again in The Lion in Winter), backed by Luis Bunuel’s Paris producer Serge Silberman after ten years of scripting and story-boarding, painting by exquisite painting - an invaluable guide to his assistants when his eye-sight was fading.

 

61 -  James Fox, A Passage To India, 1984.

His Lawrence director David Lean thought of O'Toole only - for what proved his finale. Lean said that Fielding, based by         EM Forster    on himself, could be played by any good character actor. "But it's got to shine. Peter has that star quality.        He can be very sensitive to distress.   He also has another asset: a strange, sexual ambiguity which I played  up in Lawrence but would    play down with Fielding."

 

62 -  Sean Connery, Der Name der Rose/The Name of the Rose, France-Italy-West Germany, 1986.      The   French realisateur Jean-Jacques Annaud also considered Michael Caine, Albert Finney, Richard Harris, Ian McKellen to incarnate Umberto Ecco's monk detective, William of Baskerville.

63 -    John Neville, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, 1987.     Terry Gilliam’s first choices for his Baron were O’Toole, Michael Hordern and the third Docor Who, Jon Pertwee. Strangely enough, although Hordern, in particular, was also perfect for another Gilliam fixation - The Man Who Killed Don Quixote - he was never invited aboard the long-delayed dream movie, begun in 2000, finished (?) in 2017.

64 - Jack Nicholson, Batman, 1988.

65 - Lance Henricksen, The Pit and the Pendulum, 1990.        Quit due to production delays. Anthony Perkins, his first replacement as Torquemada, also had to leave.

66 -    Tommy Lee Jones, JFK, 1991.

67 -    Sam Waterston, Nixon, 1995.      He was on writer-director Oliver Stone's must list as Richard Helms, the Director of Central Intelligence under Presidents LB Johnson and Richard Nixon.

68 -    Jeremy Kemp, Angels and Insects, 1995.      A coolly erotic version of AS Byatt’s novel by Mr and Mrs Philip Haas.

69 -    Paul McGann, Doctor Who (The Movie), TV, 1996.

70 -    Freddie Jones, Married 2 Malcolm, 1998.    The titular Mark Addy has two wives... and a tedious scenario as O’Toole quickly noted. The next Jasper choice, Ronald Fraser, also fell out - by falling down and dying.

 

71 -    Michael Gambon, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, 2003.      Did not take to the idea -suggested by Richard Harris’ family- to take over his late pal’s Albus Dumbledore (outed as gay by author JK Rowling in 2007).

72 - David Kelly, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, 2004.      Among Tim Burton’s Grandpa Joe choices. Two passed before passing: Gregory Peck and Peter Ustinov. Also in the loop: O’Toole, Richard Attenborough, Michael Caine, George Carlin (yes, not Carlin), Kirk Douglas, Albert Finney, Richard Griffiths, Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Lloyd (favourite of author Roald Dahl’s widow, Liccy), Ron Moody, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Paul Newman, Max von Sydow, Eli Wallach, David Warner.  Burton finally gave the role to Kelly (“in three minutes”) on running into him at Pinewood studios on another film.

73 -     Billy Connolly, Quartet, 2012.    
The End…  A new director - fella named Dustin Hoffman -  first asked  another old-timer  to head his first directed  film. “But when the time came,” said Connolly, “Albert Finney was a bit sick. He couldn’t do it.  So [Hoffman]  went to Peter O’Toole but Peter O’Toole doesn’t want to work any more, so [Hoffman] came to me.” And he stole the movie… from such renowned film stealers as Sir Michael Gambon, and Sir Tom  Courtenay and, for the second time in a film called Quartet,  Dame Maggie Smith.  O’Toole ahd bowd out in July, just before reaching 80...   "It’s 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…So I bid the profession a dry-eyed and profoundly grateful farewell."

 

 

 





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