Peter O'Toole, <EM>The Tudors</EM> Peter O'Toole, The Tudors

From Lawrence of Arabia to Caligula to Troy, Peter O'Toole has a knack for playing historical figures to the hilt. Now, the eight-time Oscar nominee is robing up as Pope Paul III on The Tudors (Sundays at 9 pm/ET, Showtime) and he's ready to confess.

TV Guide: What made you decide to take this role?
Peter O'Toole: It is beautifully written with some stunning scenes and some terrifying ones. Pope Paul III was the greatest thief in the history of the church. The guy skinned 'em!

TV Guide: You were raised Catholic....
O'Toole: I was reared as a holy Roman acolyte for five years starting when I was 10 in 1943…. Unfortunately, there were some wonky priests who tried to touch you up…. It was abominable. I was lucky; I wasn't touched by it. The hard kids put a needle in their jeans so that when the priest went to touch them they got a nasty shock.

TV Guide: You've been famously critical of the state of acting, as well.
O'Toole: Acting today is s--t. London theater is a graveyard and it's all because of this whole invention of The Director…. The power [of the actor] has been taken away. There are only three indispensable things: the audience, the actor and the author. The rest is dross.

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