LOS ANGELES (AP) – Peter O’Toole’s peers want to reward him with an honorary Academy Award. But the actor, who has been nominated for an Oscar seven times but never won, is not sure he’s ready to accept it.
O’Toole, 70, sent a handwritten letter last week to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences saying he was “enchanted” at the thought of an honorary Oscar but that he still had a shot at earning the award for a particular acting performance.
The academy announced last week that it intended to award O’Toole an honorary Oscar for a career that has included best-actor nominations for “Lawrence of Arabia,” “The Lion in Winter,” “Goodbye, Mr. Chips,” “My Favorite Year” and three other film roles.
The actor wrote back that since he was “still in the game, and might yet win (the award) outright, would the academy please defer the honor until I am 80?”
Academy officials said Wednesday they had not gotten a definite answer from O’Toole on whether the letter meant he would not show up to collect the award at the Oscar ceremony March 23. An O’Toole spokeswoman contacted by telephone Wednesday declined to comment.
The story first appeared in the trade paper Daily Variety.
In his letter, O’Toole said he learned of the honorary Oscar from his agent, who had talked informally with the Academy board.
“We don’t negotiate and it’s not contingent upon anyone appearing,” Academy President Frank Pierson told Variety.
The statue will be waiting for O’Toole whenever he is ready to accept it, Pierson said.
The academy’s board “unanimously and enthusiastically voted you the honorary award because you’ve earned it and deserved it,” Pierson said in a response to O’Toole. “It will be there for you at the awards ceremony March 23, and we hope you’ll be there with us. If not, it will be at the academy for you pick up when you’re 80, or whenever you’re ready.”