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Peter O'Toole is one of Hollywood's most highly regarded actors. He is best known for playing T.E. Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia.
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In 1968, O'Toole gave a stellar performance opposite Katharine Hepburn in the English historical drama Lion in Winter. He once again played England's King Henry II in this movie, which earned him another Oscar nod. The following year, O'Toole landed the lead role in a more contemporary yet equally acclaimed film, Goodbye, Mr. Chips,
playing a shy teacher who becomes smitten with a showgirl. O'Toole continued to show that he was clearly capable of great transformations on screen with 1972's The Ruling Class, in which he stars as a mentally disturbed English aristocrat who believes that he is Jesus Christ.
In addition to being known as a great actor, O'Toole established a reputation for his heavy drinking around this time. His substance abuse caught up with him in 1975, landing him in the hospital, and he subsequently underwent surgery for what doctors called an abdominal irregularity. The 43-year-old actor nearly died. Soon after, O'Toole decided to put end to his drinking, stating, "The time has come to stop roaming. The pirate ship has berthed. I can still make whoopee, but now I do it sober," according to the Daily Mail.
Before this incident, O'Toole's career had been a downward spiral. He continued to make some poor choices over the next few years, especially the gory and explicit Roman era flop Caligula. After some delay, the film was finally released in 1980 to scathing reviews.
O'Toole managed to overcome his personal challenges to return to top form as an actor. He starred in another Oscar-nominated role, as an egomaniacal director in The Stunt Man (1980), and again won raves for his portrayal of a beloved and wild film star in My Favorite Year (1982).
Continuing to work steadily over the next two decades, O'Toole won an Emmy Award in 1999 for his work on the television miniseries Joan of Arc. He also received an honorary Oscar in 2002 for his "remarkable talents [that] have provided cinema history with some of its most memorable characters."
In 2006, O'Toole received his eighth Oscar nomination for his performance in Venus. He plays a mature actor who develops a platonic relationship with a much younger woman in the film. The actor returned to the small screen in 2008, portraying Pope Paul III in The Tudors.
In 2012, however, O'Toole announced that he was retiring from acting. After more than 50 years as an actor, he released a statement saying that he had lost his desire to perform: "It is time for me to chuck in the sponge," he said. "To retire from films and stage. The heart for it has gone out of me: it won't come back." The actor went on express his gratitude for his career, stating, "My professional acting life, stage and screen, has brought me public support, emotional fulfillment and material comfort. It has brought me together with fine people, good companions with whom I've shared the inevitable lot of all actors: flops and hits."
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