Honorary Oscar can wait, says O'Toole

Peter O'Toole has asked for his honorary Oscar to be deferred for 10 years because he still wants to win a real one.

The star of films including Lawrence Of Arabia and Goodbye, Mr Chips has been nominated for seven Oscars but has never won one.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Scienceswrote to him announcing its plan to award him the honour at the Oscars ceremony in Los Angeles on 23 March but in a hand-written response he said he would rather wait.

O'Toole said he was "enchanted" by the gesture but as he was "still in the game and might win the lovely bugger outright, would the Academy please defer the honour until I am 80?"

The refusal has left the Academy "bemused and sorry," according to its president Frank Pierson. "It would be great if he decides to change his mind and join us," he said.

Mr Pierson wrote to Mr O'Toole to reassure him: "The board unanimously and enthusiastically voted you the honorary award, because you've earned and deserved it.

"As to being 'in the game', nobody ever thought you were out of it."

Should O'Toole stick to his guns and decline to attend the Oscars ceremony in March, it will leave the Academy with a homeless statuette. Previous winners have refused an Oscar, but no honorary winner has ever declined the prize.

When Marlon Brando and George C Scott refused their honours there was no name on the Oscar but as an honorary recipient, the name of Peter O'Toole will be already on the gong. Mr Pierson told the reluctant star that the statuette, "will be at the Academy for you to pick up when you're 80 or whenever you're ready".

Accepting it now would not exempt Mr O'Toole from winning a real one in years to come. Both Paul Newman and Henry Fonda walked off with competitive Oscars after receiving an honorary award.

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