Co-star O’Toole changes way actress works



Actors Peter O’Toole and Jodie Whittaker form a bond in the movie Venus, which opens in theatres today.


Aging hasn’t seemed to have slowed down Hollywood legend Peter O’Toole.


His new film Venus earned the senior statesman of the silver screen a Golden Globe nomination this year for best leading actor in a drama, and some have even predicted an Academy Award nomination for the performance.

If Oscar does decide to recognize the effort it would be O’Toole’s eighth nomination. He walked away with an honorary statuette in 2003 for his body of work, which includes iconic roles in Lawrence Of Arabia and The Lion In Winter.

But despite still being active in film, the 74-year-old O’Toole is undoubtedly in the winter of his illustrious career.

For his Venus co-star Jodie Whittaker, on the other hand, the chances for career longevity are numerous — and having the chance to work alongside an actor of O’Toole’s calibre will surely serve as a springboard for the native of Huddersfield, England.

Only three months out of London’s Guildhall School Of Music And Drama, Whittaker was chosen to play the prickly Jessie in Venus, a precocious teen who catches the eye of the aging actor Maurice (O’Toole), a friend of her uncle.

The two become virtual soulmates despite their almost 50-year age gap, as Maurice finds new life in the girl’s company and she discovers the importance of kindness in his.

“I think it’s a scary story in a way of getting to the end of your life and wondering what have I achieved, that someone can still bring an amazing lot of energy into your life,” Whittaker says. “Although Jessie’s a little moody in the beginning, (Maurice) lights up and lives again. When he feels it’s all slipping away, he feels like he has the re-burst of life.”

As one might expect, Whittaker, who had amassed less than a handful of British television acting credits prior to winning the role of Jessie, was intimidated as she stepped onto the Venus set to begin her dramatic duel with O’Toole.

Early meetings with O’Toole diffused Whittaker’s sense of trepidation, but the young actress admits she still can’t quite single out a lesson or two she took from working with the Irish-born actor, only that she’s a different actress after having had the privilege.

“I know that my approach to work changed after working with him,” she says. “I really felt that (Hollywood icons) have been labelled like this because they act in a way that is completely giving.”