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National

Revisiting Shakespeare's Sonnets With Peter O'Toole

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

It's time for me to chuck in the sponge. That's how the legendary actor Peter O'Toole began a statement announcing that he's retiring from films and stage at age 79. O'Toole, who famously played Hamlet, King Henry II and Lawrence of Arabia, among dozens of roles, wrote this: 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.

BLOCK: Well, that news sent me back to an interview I did with Peter O'Toole five years ago. We talked about how he first got into acting in the '50s. He'd been serving in the Royal Navy.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

BLOCK: And so a career was born. Now, speaking of poetry, the most memorable part of our conversation had to do with Shakespeare; in particular, with Shakespeare's sonnets.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

(LAUGHTER)

BLOCK: And you're going to remember that last couplet as soon as you leave the studio, I know.

: And yet I believe my love more fair than any she belied with false compare. There.

BLOCK: Done.

: Not a very good couplet, is it?

(LAUGHTER)

: That's probably why I can't remember it.

BLOCK: I love that, Robert. Now, ready for the part of this that really still makes me smile?

SIEGEL: This doesn't make you smile already?

BLOCK: They all make me smile, but I love this part in particular.

SIEGEL: All right.

BLOCK: Are you ready?

SIEGEL: Yes.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

(LAUGHTER)

BLOCK: I love that.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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