Which British actor played the titular role in the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia?
And the answer: Peter O'Toole.
Peter O’Toole is best remembered for his role as T.E. Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia. The film recounts the semi-historical account of an English officer who unites troops in the Ottoman Empire's provinces of Hejaz and Greater Syria to fight the Turks in this World War I epic.
Beating Marlon Brando, Anthony Perkins, and Montgomery Clift out of a role, Peter O'Toole's Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia would forever change the young actor's life. The film was an immediate hit, receiving ten Academy Award nominations and taking home seven of them.
The film depicts Lawrence's experiences in the Ottoman Empire during World War I. Viewers immediately latched onto the keen depiction of Lawrence's emotional struggles, primarily dealing with the personal violence inherent in war, his own identity, and his divided allegiance.
Interestingly, the film was banned in many Arab countries, as they felt Arab historical figures and the Arab peoples were misrepresented. Omar Sharif, costar to Peter O'Toole, arranged a viewing with President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt in the hopes of proving that there was nothing wrong in the portrayal. Ultimately, Nasser loved the movie, and allowed it to be released in Egypt where it went on to become a smash hit.
Did you know?
While six-foot, three-inch Peter O’Toole was a towering figure as the lead, the real Lawrence was only five feet, five inches tall. It's said that Lawrence remained self-conscious about his height throughout his life, a fact which may have been caused by a childhood case of the mumps.