Why Peter O’Toole really should not retire from acting


Peter O’Toole, chucking in the sponge. (LEE CELANO/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Specifically, according to People, the statement begins with a “Dear All,” then says: “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.”

The letter concludes with these two statements: “However, it’s my belief that one should decide for oneself when it is time to end one’s stay. So I bid the profession a dry-eyed and profoundly grateful farewell.”

O’Toole turns 80 next month. Given his age, his more than five decades in the industry and the impressive filmography he’s amassed, he obviously has earned the right to retire if he wants to. But I wish he would reconsider because the world of cinema, as well as the media outlets that cover it, needs more Peter O’Tooles. These are a few of the reasons why it would be better for humanity if O’Toole did not retire from acting.

Because O’Toole has starred in movies like this:

And also movies like this:

Because, although he has an honorary Academy Award, he has never won an Oscar for one of his performances, despite having been nominated eight times. He most recently lost in 2007, when Forest Whitaker’s work in “Last King of Scotland” edged out his performance in “Venus.”

Because during this 1978 Washington Post interview, O’Toole stood in front of reporter Henry Allen wearing nothing but a pair of boxer shorts and declared, “There’s no truth to the rumor that I’m dead.”

Because during an appearance on “The Tonight Show” that same year, Johnny Carson tried to give O’Toole the benefit of the doubt by suggesting that the actor’s previous, incoherent appearance on the program could be attributed to jet lag. O’Toole aknowledged that this was true, but that, also, he was drunk at the time.

Because — and I think this might be the best reason of all — he once began an interview with David Letterman by smoking a cigarette while riding a camel, then forcing the camel to chug a can of Heineken. Most contemporary actors either can’t pull this off or don’t have the will to try. This is why O’Toole should not call it quits. In addition to needing O’Toole to appear in more films and finally outright win the Oscar he so richly deserves, we also desperately, desperately need him to ride more alcohol-consuming camels on talk shows.

When she isn’t at a movie theater or writing about movies, Jen Chaney is ... um ... probably at home, watching a movie.

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