Peter O'Toole has been nominated for an Oscar eight times during his long career, first for his breakout role in Lawrence of Arabia and most recently in 2006, for Venus. Many Oscar-watchers and O'Toole fans had hoped, practically assumed, that one day he would have a role that could finally snag him a win-- after all, look what happened when the never-nominated Christopher Plummer was finally acknowledged for The Last Station two years ago, and then won this year for Beginners.

But O'Toole, apparently has decided to make it impossible for that to happen. The actor announced today in a statement (via THR) that he was retiring from acting, or as he put it, "it is time for me to chuck in the sponge." Here's the rest of the statement:

"To retire from films and stage. The heart for it has gone out of me: it won’t come back. My professional acting life, stage and screen, has brought me public support, emotional fulfillment and material comfort. It has brought me together with fine people, good companions with whom I’ve shared the inevitable lot of all actors: flops and hits. However, it’s my belief that one should decide for oneself when it is time to end one’s stay. So I bid the profession a dry-eyed and profoundly grateful farewell."

At 79 years old O'Toole is well within his right to retire, and the official announcement may make it a little easier to accept his departure from the screen-- unlike, say, Gene Hackman, who filmed his last role in 2004 but has never actually confirmed his retirement. Then again, we can probably hold out hope for O'Toole if we want. After all, one of his most memorable recent roles was the voice work he did as Anton Ego in Pixar's Ratatouille, a role with great challenges but none of them physical. Couldn't something similar come along and coax him back into the recording booth?

Even if O'Toole really does never make another movie, we now have the unique opportunity to appreciate him while he's alive. So, go ahead, speak up-- what's your favorite Peter O'Toole performance? I know it's a cliche, but i have no choice but to go with Lawrence of Arabia. The fact that he commanded the screen that way, with virtually no film acting experience, is mind-blowing even decades later. Alright, now it's your turn-- when did O'Toole wow you the most?

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