If Lawrence was the definitive young OToole, Venus (2006), for which he won his final Academy Award nomination, was a masterly performance in a role that couldve been him in real life. An aged actor calls his ex-wife to tell her that hes been cast as a corpse on TV. Typecast again! is her response. Age has withered the actor, but when a young woman sees his obituary in the paper, it is accompanied by a photo of Lawrence-era OToole, whereupon she exclaims: He was gorgeous!
By the time Hollywood claimed him, OToole already had a distinguished career on the British stageplaying Hamlet in the National Theatre Company production directed by Laurence Olivier and the original angry young man, Jimmy Porter, in Dont Look Back in Anger. Though OToole seemed to be the successor to British theatre greats who had made the jump to cinema, on stage he was thought to have brought a gritty realism to the mannered, declamatory Shakespearean theatre of the time. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere, he said in Ratatouille (2007). His character, Anton Ego, was talking about the rat-chef Remy, but he could just as easily have been speaking of his alter ego.