World leaders, film critics and Hollywood stars remembered Peter O’Toole on Monday as an actor of towering talent, blue-eyed Irish charm and unfettered hell-raising — an icon of a vanished, less strait-laced era of filmmaking.
“There won’t be any more like that, will there?” said 73-year-old actor Michael Gambon, who played Dumbledore in several “Harry Potter” films.
O’Toole, the 81-year-old star of “Lawrence of Arabia,” died Saturday in London. Britain’s prime minister and Ireland’s president were among the many expressing condolences
Irish President Michael D. Higgins said O’Toole had been “unsurpassed for the grace he brought to every performance.”
O’Toole was nominated eight times for an Academy Award without winning — a record. He was awarded an honorary Oscar in 2003.
Nick James, editor of film magazine Sight & Sound, said O’Toole was “an actor with a kind of bohemian quality to him which has kind of passed on — largely to do with health and safety concerns on movie sets.”
“You’re not allowed to behave that way anymore,” James said. “You don’t get hell-raisers anymore because you can’t get them insured.”
O’Toole had long suffered from ill health, his famously handsome face eroded by years of prodigious drinking.
He gave up alcohol in 1975 following serious health problems and major surgery, but was unrepentant about his life of excess.
James said O’Toole’s career “was intrinsic to the times he lived in, the milieu he moved in.”
“I don’t think he would have wanted it any other way. The arts have always dallied with the dark side in order to feed creativity.”
O’Toole’s daughter Kate said the family had been overwhelmed by expressions of sympathy.
“In due course there will be a memorial filled with song and good cheer, as he would have wished,” she said in a statement.