Friday, September 30, 2011

Building A Statue Of Snow

"LAWRENCE!" O'Toole spat out, swallowing his Scotch. "I became obsessed by that man, and it was bad. A true artist should be able to jump into a bucket of shit and come out smelling of violets, but I spent two years and three months making that picture, and it was two years, three months of thinking about nothing but Lawrence, and you were him, and that's how it was day after day, and it became bad for me, personally, and it killed my acting later. After Lawrence...I did BAAL and a close friend of mine, after my dress rehearsal, came back and said, `What's the matter, Peter, what is it?' I asked what the hell he meant, and he said, `There's no give!'...Christ, his words struck terror in me. Oh, it was bad acting! I was flabby, diffuse...Later I said, 'You're in trouble daddy,' and I felt it in my fucking toes. I was emotionally bankrupt after that picture.

"Oh a BBC show...I said that after LAWRENCE I was afraid of being mutilated. That filming for that length of time, two years, three months, and having all the responsibility for the performance but none of the control...Christ, in one scene of the film I saw a close-up of me when I was 27 years old, and then 8 seconds later, there was another close-up of me when I was 29 years old! 8 goddamn seconds! and two years of my life had gone from me!

Oh, it's painful seeing it all there on the screen, solidified, embalmed," he said, staring straight ahead toward the rows of bottles. "Once a thing is solidified it stops being a living thing. That's why I love the theatre. It's the Art of the Moment. I'm in love with ephemera and I hate permanence. Acting is making words into flesh, and I love classical acting because...because you need the vocal range of an opera singer...the movement of a ballet have to be able to's turning your whole body into a muscial instrument on which you yourself play...It's more than behaviorism, which is what you get in the movies...Chrissake, what are movies anyway? Just fucking moving photographs, that's all. But the theatre! Ah, there you have the impermanence that I love. It's a reflection of life somehow. It'' building a statue of snow...."

Peter O'Toole looked at his watch. Then he paid the barman and waved good-bye to the drunks in the corner. It was 1:15 P.M.--time to be getting to the track.

- from FAME AND OBSCURITY by Gay Talese

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