It was only last year that Irish actor Peter O’Toole “bid the profession a dry-eyed and profoundly grateful farewell”. Fast-forward 16 months and any teary fans will be pleased to hear the Oscar-nominated actor has done a dramatic U-turn, starring in the new trailer forthcoming flick, Katherine of Alexandria.
The 82-year-old actor plays Corenlius Gallus – a Roman palace orator in the court of Emperor Maxentius – in a new historical epic chronicling the clash between the Emperor and Katherine. The film also stars Joss Ackland, Steven Berkoff and Edward Fox and will be released in 2014.
At the time of his very public retirement in July 2012, O’Toole declared “the heart for it has gone out of me: it won’t come back.” It is not yet clear what exactly tempted him to sign up for the historical drama – perhaps it was the hunt for that elusive Oscar? (With eight nominations, O’Toole holds the record for most acting nods from the Academy without a win).
The Roman epic that appears to have reignited his passion for acting follows the fortunes of Katherine (Nicole Keniheart), brought up as a nomad living in the desert and kidnapped aged 11 by Emperor Maxentius who was obsessed by her beauty. Brought up in his court as a palace translater, she repeatedly rejected his proposals of marriage and bravely denounced the enforcement of his pagan religion, despite the deadly consequences.