Remembering Peter O'Toole

Film legend Peter O'Toole dies at age 81.
3:00 | 12/15/13

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Transcript for Remembering Peter O'Toole
And over my shoulder here, a scene from that great movie and the legendary actor. Peter o'toole in "lawrence of arabia." We learned this sunday the actor has died. This image of a quiet moment while filming that movie, just before he would become a global star. Playing that british soldier in world war i. But from black and white to color, and to what helped make him famous. The blue eyes and good looks. And tonight here, we look back at his career and his life. As we return to an interview he gave to abc news not so long ago about shooting that first movie, and evything that followed. ♪ Come here the girls declare ♪ ♪ he must be a millionaire ♪ ♪ he must be a millionaire ♪ Reporter: Defined by his starring role in "lawrence of arabia," peter o'toole was virtually unknown when they suddenly spotted him in the desert. As t.E. Lawrence, the british soldier who led an arab rebellion against the turks. The playwright noel coward once famously saying that if o'toole had by any prettier, they could have had to call the movie "florence of arab ya." Time to be great again, my lord. Reporter: O'toole remembering it well, when he sat down with "nightline." We were in the middle of the desert. And we lived in tents. And we got on an airplane, one for the actors, one for the technicians and the cameramen. And we'd land in a mud flat and we'd stick up the tents. Wake up in the morning and go off and do the scene. And then after I would go off to beirut. Reporter: O'toole recalling the parties in beirut, the paris of the middle east. Beautiful. There was everything that two young men could have wanted. Yes, there was a big casino, night life, gambling, all sorts of things. Lovely girls kicking their heels up in the air. Reporter: Born seamus peter o'toole, his father was an irish bookie. He was famous for his life offscreen, too, giving up drinking later in life, but always known as a renegade, famous for his candor. Just like his character in "my favorite year." Not for me. I'm not an actor! I'm a movie star! Reporter: He would never win an oscar. When the academy offered him an honorary one, he told them, I'm still in the game, and I'll win the lovely bugger on my own. That was a bit rude of me and I didn't intend it to be. Because it's an honor. The highest honor the film industry can give one. Pointed out to me very severely by my children, I like to do something specific and earn the damn thing. Reporter: Eventually, he relented and accepted, honored for his work in "lawrence of arabia," for "the line in winter" and so many others. In recent years, the film "venus," o'toole playing an actor in the twilight of his life. In the movie, they show a photograph of a young o'toole. And when asked what he would say to that young man? People have asked me about that photograph and I can remember him. And yes, he was a bit noisy and drank far too much. But he wasn't a bad fellow. He wasn't -- whatever else he was, that young man, he was a very serious actor. And I liked that. His daughter kate o'toole said in a statement her father had been ill for some time. He was 81. Pete ore tool once said his idea of heaven is moving from one smoke-filled room to another.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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