VETERAN actor Peter O’Toole has launched a scathing attack on the Hollywood blockbuster Troy, saying it was so bad it was funny.
O’Toole, who starred alongside Brad Pitt in the epic, said that the film reminded him of a Hovis television advert.
He also criticised the state of British theatre, saying that he encourages his children to go to cinema or watch television instead.
In an interview with the Radio Times magazine, the 72-year-old actor, who played King Priam in the film, said: "I call it ‘Trovis’ - after watching 50 minutes I found myself in quiet despair, and suddenly that Hovis advert came into my mind over Brad Pitt’s face. I got the chuckles and had to leave."
The film is an adaptation of Homer’s epic and follows the assault on Troy by the Greek forces, chronicling the fates of the men involved.
Despite having a budget of 111 million and starring Brad Pitt as Achilles, the film was poorly received by critics. It was dubbed "Homer-lite", while one critic described it as "utterly preposterous".
Dr Valerio Manfredi, the Italian archaeologist and historical novelist, said: "When I saw the film, I was scandalised.
"I wanted to throw red paint at the screen. I keep an open mind but - Good Lord, this is Homer, one of the geniuses of mankind, who should be treated with respect."
Such has been the level of criticism against the film, it has become a benchmark to judge other "historical dramas". When the Boston Globe wrote a highly critical review of the latest factual-based blockbuster, Alexander, it said: "The best thing that can be said is that it’s better than Troy."
O’Toole is currently playing the older Casanova in the BBC3 series and is set to star in a new Hollywood epic, Gilgamesh. He has had a highly acclaimed career in film and on stage. He received the first of seven Oscar nominations for his role as TE Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia. He has also starred in Lord Jim and The Scarlet Pimpernel, and won an honorary Oscar in 2003.
He is not the first Hollywood star to be critical of a film in which he stars. In 2003, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, who were a couple at the time, were heavily critical of Gigli, in which they both starred.
Before the film was even released, the star couple had admitted it was a big mistake. Affleck said: "The movie didn’t work. We tried to fix it, but it was like putting a fish’s tail on a donkey’s head."
Elsewhere in his Radio Times interview, O’Toole, who was born in County Galway, Ireland, but raised in Leeds, raged against the state of British theatre.
He said: "There are always promising young actors, and today the sensible ones f*** off from what calls itself ‘the theatre’ as soon as they can because it’s such badly done s***.
"Do you feel you can hop on a bus to the West End and see the likes of Paul Scofield, Richard Burton, Laurence Olivier?
"The Old Vic and Stratford were places where the best actors in the English-speaking world did their greatest work. That was their remit - not whether a third-rate, biddable a***hole could do 39 productions of As You Like It upside down with red noses. The bulbous, state-run theatre provides a healthy living for smart-alec t****."
Such is his anger at the current theatre set-up, O’Toole says he tells his three children to stay away from it. He said: "I tell my children to avoid theatre and go into cinema and TV."
However, the Scottish Arts Council was heavily critical of O’Toole’s stance. A spokeswoman said yesterday: "Mr O’Toole should come north if he feels his enthusiasm for theatre waning.
"The standard of Scottish work for the stage - in producing, performing and in writing - is exceptionally high and there is a lot of exciting, entertaining and thought-provoking work being shown on stages from Dumfries to Caithness and all parts in between.
"We've a new breed of young artistic directors re-invigorating Scottish theatre both in style of presentation and in the work produced," she said. "Meanwhile, the National Theatre of Scotland also promises a new era for Scottish audiences, actors and playwrights.
"Nor should the connection between public investment in theatre and the commercial sector be overlooked. The broadcast industries rely very heavily on actors who began their career on the stage; experience which doubtless adds depth to their screen performances."