Peter O'Toole received his eight Oscar nomination for portraying Maurice in Venus.
Peter O'Toole plays an actor here, a rather washed up an tired actor suffering from colon cancer, and his old age. In the opening of the film O'Toole plays the washed up actor as a man basically drifting through his old age, along with his other aged actor friends. He is reduced to basically taking roles as corpses, talking about various depressing topic with his friends, and occasionally visiting with his estranged wife (Vanessa Redgrave). Peter O'Toole is very strong in showing this weary man, who is not completely dead but obviously very tired. O'Toole is a perfect choice for the role, utilizing his own image, to add to Maurice. He really just is Maurice from the get go, completely believable as a more obscure actor. He could have made Maurice a completely depressed individual and it could have been a little too heavy, but O'Toole does show it in the right amount, but always giving a old glimpse of the character and his own original charm of his youth.
The character gets a bit of a strange new lease on his life when he meets the niece (Jodie Whittaker) of his friend(Leslie Phillips). He instantly becomes very attracted to the young woman, despite her being very hostile to him from the start. O'Toole really is incredibly good here, in his attempt to woo the young woman despite his old age. He really is fascinating in the way O'Toole shows the old man using all of his potential charm in his attempts with her. He recites every seeming intelligent in his head, and quote he knows, and O'Toole properly displays the true lust the old man feels, and how he tries to be even more than he is. O'Toole though unfortunately is hindered a bit by the script, and by his co-star Whittaker. The script leaves their relationship far too artificial, and based mostly on physical favors. Whittaker does not help since she makes her part a complete prude, which makes it so the only feasible reason he likes her is her body. She also for most of the film only suggests that she is not even more creeped out by him is the fact that he does favors for him, but even once when she does not get exactly what she wanted she attacks him.
O'Toole despite these problems still stays very strong. He still makes Maurice interesting to follow, even if the relationship he seeks is rather shallow due to the script. O'Toole conveys the old man's lust for his life, as his relationship grows, but also his remaining sorrow of sorts, very well with a real truth to his performance. He is particular effective in the end of his performance where the two characters finally meet at a little fuller of a relationship even though I felt that the change was rather forced, and not really earned. Still O'Toole shows the changes of his character, from his frustration with her near the end, then their final affection is well earned by O'Toole, and does make for as good of conclusion by himself, without help from the film itself. All in all O'Toole gives an effective performance, and if he had one his long deserved Oscar for it, I certainly would not have minded.