Peter O'Toole Has a Few Words for Directors - NYTimes.com:
"Q. For this particular character, did you draw upon your experiences with filmmakers who’d directed you?
A. Look, for me, a person, a character, a part is on the page. I don’t invent, I don’t copy anybody or think of anybody. Something happens, and I can’t explain it. I’ve tried to write about it. How the ink from the page comes up into my eyes and forms itself into a part that I want to play, and I’ve no idea how it happens. Intellectually, I can understand that I read it and enjoy it. But why this particular one, I don’t know.
Q.So the notion that Eli Cross was somehow a gloss on, say, David Lean —
A.“That’s Orson Welles?” “That’s John Huston?” No, no, no. It’s Eli Cross. He lives for me. I don’t want to be anybody else, thank you very much. He’s not copying anybody. He’s himself.
Q.Did you do any background research to learn how to play a director?
A.I don’t play directors. I play men. No, I don’t do any of that. Unobserved, uninhibited, private study of the script. I rehearse myself, l lock myself away for a month, before film or any play, and I absorb every word and every moment. And when it comes to the curtain going up or the action being started, I’m there. Ancient old pro speaking."