Friends, I’m going to preface this article with my personal opinion that the late and great Peter O’Toole in addition to being one of the finest actors of all time – was in addition one of the greatest raconteurs of all time too. As to my opinion on the former statement it still amazes me that with roles in such films as Lawrence of Arabia, Becket, The Lion in Winter, Goodbye Mr. Chips, Man of La Mancha, and My Favorite Year as a few of his highlights – he never won an Academy Award for his talent in any film. In fact when informed he was receiving an honorary award for his lifetime of then 70 years in acting, he apparently responded by way of a letter that read:
“I am still in the game and might win the lovely bugger outright. Would the Academy please defer the honor until I am 80?
To be fair, he went on to accept the award when it was explained that other legends in films had accepted the honor – such as Danny Kaye, Gary Cooper, Lillian Gish, Orson Welles, Henry Fonda, and James Stewart to name just a few. In total, O’Toole was honored with eight Oscar nominations – the last being for 2006’s Venus – although at the time of this 1995 interview with David Letterman that I’m sharing today, the number of Oscar nods was only at seven.
And the reason I am sharing this hilariously delightful interview today is it proves my point about saying that Peter was one of the greatest storytellers of all time. At the time of this interview Letterman had taken the Late Show with David Letterman to the UK for an entire week – and I think you’ll agree it’s hard to top having O’Toole appear for his interview on the back of a camel… until you see him give his ‘noble transport’ a can of Heineken to slate it’s thirst!
Fun fact, I’m terrified of horses but love and have ridden camels – I’ve been able to feed them sliced apples but I will admit I’ve not tried to offer them a beer yet. Anyway, in this interview you’ll get to hear O’Toole talk about some behind the scenes magic while filming the attack on Aqaba scene for 1962’s Lawrence of Arabia… involving rope, brandy and milk. As well as with the second video a story involving Richard Harris and a piece of meat that had most definitely gone bad – including a punch line that while horrid still manages to be hilarious thanks to O’Toole’s recounting of the event.