(CNN) -- Actor Peter O'Toole died peacefully Saturday in a hospital, his agent Steve Kenis said Sunday. He was 81.
O'Toole's first major film role in the title role of T.E. Lawrence in "Lawrence of Arabia" in 1962 was "absolute genius," British film critic Richard Fitzwilliams told CNN. It earned him the first of eight Academy Award nominations and propelled him to world stardom.
"Ireland, and the world, has lost one of the giants of film and theatre," Irish President Michael D. Higgins said in a statement.
Born in Ireland and raised in England, O'Toole's acting career began on stage in England as a teenager, moving later to television roles in the 1950s and then the big screen.