Eric Bana Remembers The Time He Made Peter O'Toole Choke On His Chicken Sandwich

As we mourn the passing of another great man, Aussie actor Eric Bana recalls the time he nearly killed the Lawrence Of Arabia star...
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As we mourn the passing of another great man, Aussie actor Eric Bana recalls the time he nearly killed the Lawrence Of Arabia star...

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Eric Bana: "For me, movie legends don't come bigger than Peter O'Toole. The guy's amazing. Not only are the films and the performances incredible - Lawrence Of Arabia, Becket, The Stunt Man, My Favourite Year - but the stories are incredible, too. When we were filming Troy, Peter told me stories about him and Richard Harris tearing it up in the West End that absolutely defied belief. These guys would hit the pub the moment it opened and keep on drinking until the curtain went up on the show they were in that evening - I have no idea how they remembered their lines.

"Naturally, working with Peter was one of the big attractions of appearing in Troy. Midway through the shoot, Peter celebrated a birthday. I'm not sure how old he was, and I don't think he was too sure either. Anyway, everything stopped for Peter's big day. Now, one of the many things I love about Peter O'Toole is that he's cricket mad - I doubt there are many Irishman who know as much about cricket as Peter. Knowing how much he adored the game, I'd had a special gift shipped over for him from Australia - a bottle of wine from a vineyard owned by Shane Warne. It was wonderful, the look on Peter's face when he unwrapped the package - I don't think it's overstatement to say I'd given him one of his favourit gifts that year.

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"Then, with the bottle open and everyone enjoying a sip, I broke out my Shane Warne impersonation. Before I became an actor, I was best known in Australia for my impressions. And since I'm also from Victoria, I had Shane down pretty good. Peter certainly loved it - he was guffawing as I did Shane talking about the famous 'Gatting ball'. He laughed so hard in fact that he started to choke on his lunch. So there we were, me doing Shane Warne and Peter O'Toole collapsing to the floor, looking for all the world like he was about to die. And we still had four or five weeks of shooting left.

"Fortunately, we had a superb nurse on-set and it wasn't long before Peter's lunch was no longer in his windpipe and he was chortling about what so very nearly was. 'I can see the obituaries now, young Eric,' he laughed. 'Peter O'Toole, star of Lawrence Of Arabia and eight-time Oscar nominee died today, from choking on a chicken sandwich while some bloke you've never heard of did a very good impression of the legendary spin bowler Shane Warne. Priceless!'"