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Richards Galore

Close encounters with the bad boys of cinema.

Aug 30, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 47 • By CYNTHIA GRENIER
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Peter O’Toole, Last Man Standing, was delightful, witty, and charming—someone you would like to have as a friend. He certainly made life on any film set, to say nothing of a festival, a special pleasure. I see, looking through my files, that I once described O’Toole thus at a festival in Sicily:

The O’Toole surface is light, rapid, entertaining, enthusiastic with quantities of beguiling, casual charm. He is an easy, almost incessant, talker, darting from reminiscence and anecdote to serious and well-thought-out intellectual judgments. Under the altogether engaging surface, though, one does sense now and then a rather considerable angst.

The last time I saw O’Toole was in a small café on Rue Washington in Paris, just around the corner from my apartment. It wasn’t very late, maybe ten in the evening, and the place was deserted except for O’Toole. He was slumped down, his head on his arms on the table. He looked lonely and, well, miserable. Of course, I couldn’t just say, “Well, hello, Peter. How about coming up to my place.” Fortunately, his health is such nowadays that drink is no longer possible. Also, happily, he is still acting. Last Man Standing.

Cynthia Grenier is a writer in Washington.

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