David Thomson makes a half-emotional case for Peter O’Toole finally winning his Best Actor Oscar for his work in Roger Michell‘s Venus, and in the meantime slips this into the general discussion:
“For those of us who remember O’Toole dancing on the roof of the ambushed train — a romantic figure in white robes — or [Venus costar] Vanessa Redgrave hunched over her own breasts, begging to get the pictures back in Blow-Up, it’s astounding to see these two great players looking like noble wrecks. Is it possible that the change that has overtaken them has affected us too?”
There’s only one problem with the O’Toole/Venus campaign, as I understand it. The real-life O’Toole is 74 or thereabouts, and somebody told me during the Toronto Film Festival that his character in the film — a London actor — is supposed to be about the same age. But O’Toole looks like he’s at least 80 or 85, even. He gets weaker and more withered-looking in Venus due to an affliction that I won’t mention, but even in the early stages he’ doesn’t seem anywhere near as peppy as a typical 74 year-old in good health. Today’s 74 is like what 64 was fifteen or twenty years ago. It doesn’t do in today’s environment to look older than your years.