Credit: Everett Collection
Peter O'Toole was a cinematic legend, an eight-time Oscar nominee, master of the acting craft, Shakespeare devotee, and star of such timeless classics as "Lawrence of Arabia," "The Lion in Winter," and "The Last Emperor."
He was also an eccentric merrymaker who worked hard, played hard … and drank hard. Legend has grown around some of the Irish-born, English-raised screen icon's escapades around the world. O'Toole often volunteered these stories himself, especially in his later years, when he became an interviewer's dream for his willingness to spill wild tales and give it to you straight, no chaser.
It's the world's loss that O'Toole passed away on Saturday at the age of 81, but his charming candor, infectious wit, and unforgettable quotes and tales will live on forever. Here are 12 of the most memorable to commemorate the life of a legend:
Stupid Pet Tricks: The most famous of O'Toole's yarns comes from his most well-known film, the 1962 classic "Lawrence of Arabia;" namely a scene during the movie's pivotal charge at Aqaba, a moment that lead Time magazine to laud the actor's "look of messianic determination." In an interview with David Letterman in 1995 – after entering the stage on a camel that would then chug a can of beer – the thesp told "The Late Show" host that he and Omar Sharif very intentionally prepared for the scene by swigging brandy to get over their fear of falling off their animals. "This look of messianic determination on my face was in fact a drunk actor," he said.
Quotable: "The only exercise I take is walking behind the coffins of friends who took exercise."
Heady About His Headstone: At age 74, O'Toole shared the message he'd like inscribed on his tombstone, and, in predictable fashion, it was darkly hilarious. After a trip to his dry cleaners' to drop off his beloved leather jacket, one that he sent in "because it was covered in blood and Guinness and scotch and Cornflakes, the usual," the jacket was returned with a note pinned on it: "It distresses us to return work which is not perfect." And that's what Peter O'Toole wants his tombstone.
[Related: Hollywood Icon Peter O'Toole Dies at 81]
Quotable: "The nicest buttocks in the world are in Ireland. Irish women are always carrying water on their heads, and always carrying their husbands home from pubs. Such things are the greatest posture-builders in the world."
Late Night Jaunt: O'Toole claimed to have once went for a beer "at one's local in Paris and woke up in Corsica" (that's a pub crawl of 1,168 kilometers, or 726 miles). Details never emerged, likely because they were not so clearly remembered. Like those tales of Bill Murray surprising random people on the streets, sometimes it's difficult to decipher which Peter O'Toole "drinking" stories are true, and which are urban legends, but O'Toole confirmed this actually happened.
Quotable: "I used to be scared stiff of the nuns: their whole denial of womanhood – the black dresses and the shaving of the hair – was so horrible, so terrifying. Of course, that's all been stopped. They're sipping gin and tonic in the Dublin pubs now, and a couple of them flashed their pretty ankles at me just the other day."
Oscar Wild: Peter O'Toole received eight Academy Award nominations – most recently for 2006's "Venus" – but didn't win for any of them, an Oscar record. He was, however, honored in 2003 with a Lifetime Achievement statuette from the Academy. O'Toole initially planned to say "thanks, but no thanks," penning a letter to the institution saying that he would like more time "to win the lovely bugger outright." The Academy responded he'd be bestowed the award regardless of whether he was there to accept it. Thanks to some prodding by his children, he turned up for one of the night's most memorable moments. "Always the bride, never the bridesmaid my foot," O'Toole said to laughter.
Quotable (on his Oscars experience): "I enjoyed it. The only thing that wasn't enjoyable was in the green room. I said, 'Can I have a drink?' 'We have lemon juice, apple juice, still or sparkling.' I said, 'No, I want a drink. No drink?' I said, 'All right, I'm f--king off. I'll be back.' A man with earphones said, 'No! No!' Eventually this vodka was smuggled in."
"Troy," Oh "Troy:" The reliably candid O'Toole wasn't afraid to publicly diss his career missteps, as evidenced by his shots at the 2004 epic "Troy." He had some harsh words for the Brad Pitt vehicle and its director, Wolfgang Petersen. "Ugh, what a disaster," he said at the Savannah Film Festival. "The director, that kraut, what a clown he was. When it was all over, I watched 15 minutes of the finished movie and then walked out."
[Related: Peter O'Toole's 14 Most Memorable Roles]
Quotable: "When did I realize I was God? Well, I was praying and I suddenly realized I was talking to myself."
Ouch: O'Toole sliced off the top of his finger in a boating accident during the production of "The Lion in Winter." His remedy? The actor dipped the finger in brandy (which now seems like it was O'Toole's version of duct tape, the remedy for everything) before pushing it back into place and getting it bandaged. Three weeks later he unwrapped the bandage and found he'd put the top of the finger on upside down. "Probably because of the brandy, which I drank," he quipped.
Quotable: "I can't stand light. I hate weather. My idea of heaven is moving from one smoke-filled room to another."
Rest in peace, Mr. O'Toole. We hope you found your heaven.
- Arts & Entertainment