AAA Profile: Peter O’Toole
Recently I had the opportunity to view “Lawrence of Arabia” again, the 1962 screen classic which reaped seven Academy Awards, detailing the military career of British officer T.E. Lawrence, who led the Arab Revolt that successfully ousted centuries of Ottoman Turkish rule over the Arabian peninsula in the waning days of World War I. As always, I was taken in by the sweeping majesty of the movie, filmed over a two-year period in the Arabian desert, overwhelming in its epic scope but liberally peppered with human, humane, even humorous moments. But I was struck by the fact that despite wins for Best Picture, Best Director, Cinematography and Original Music Score, among others, none of the actors won an Oscar, not even Peter O’Toole, outstanding in the title role.
“Lawrence of Arabia” was O’Toole’s breakout performance, but it wasn’t his only Oscar snub. Nominated seven more times, four of them in the ensuing decade, the Anglo-Irish actor never took home a little gold statuette for a specific film role, despite a body of work that puts many Oscar winners to shame, including “Becket”, “The Lion in Winter” and “Goodbye Mr. Chips”. O’Toole once quipped that he was “the biggest loser in Hollywood”, but did reluctantly accept a Lifetime Achievement Academy Award in 2003, after initially refusing the honor on the grounds that he was still acting and would prefer to earn one for himself.