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Peter O'Toole and a Young 'Venus'

Peter O'Toole made his first indelible impression on the movie screen at age 28, in the role of T.E. Lawrence in the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia.

In his latest film, Venus, O'Toole, now 74, plays Maurice, a character O'Toole refers to as a "dirty, old man."

Maurice and Ian (played by Leslie Phillips) are aging actors who never quite hit the big time. While they are still able to find work, the roles they get aren't glamorous — including playing a corpse in a TV medical drama.

When Ian's grand-niece Jessie visits, the aspiring model disrupts the men's comfortable routine. Jessie (played by Jodie Whittaker) and Maurice develop an unlikely friendship as he shows her the sights of London.

O'Toole says that he was drawn to the film, which explores the themes of friendship, beauty and, particularly youth and age.

"You know when you've found a part that you want to play," says O'Toole. "You know it because the part takes you over. It sits in the script waiting for you to play him."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

As special correspondent and guest host of NPR's news programs, Melissa Block brings her signature combination of warmth and incisive reporting. Her work over the decades has earned her journalism's highest honors, and has made her one of NPR's most familiar and beloved voices.