16 December 2013 4:05 PM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Peter O'Toole's death may herald the end of an era in which actors walked a line between self-destruction and preservation

While Jack Nicholson is alive, Peter O'Toole cannot truly be called the last of the great hellraisers. Nevertheless, O'Toole's death at 81 may herald the end of the era in which male stage and film actors walked a line between self-destruction and self-preservation – while surviving longer and more creatively than seemed possible. The hellraisers were not just celebrity drunks. They were drinkers whose stormy lifestyle was a product of their time and place too. Of course, there were hellraisers before Hollywood and there will be hellraisers in the future. But the line that stretches from John Barrymore through Errol Flynn to Warren Beatty is faltering. O'Toole was one of the last flowerings of a hellraising culture that included Richard Burton, Peter Finch, Richard Harris, Trevor Howard, Oliver Reed and Nicol Williamson, »

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