The late Peter O’Toole tells Terry Gross in 1993 about learning to ride a camel for Lawrence of Arabia, and how uncomfortable (and dangerous) it was:
I loved the desert, I really did. … I was there three months before filming started and the idea was to learn to ride a camel. [It was] impossible. What you see is a European perched uneasily on the top of this huge brute, snorting and galloping. … I found after a while my bottom was bleeding from bouncing up and down on this snorting great dragon.
I went to Beirut — not to gamble this time — but to buy sponge rubber and it was — I remember — mucus membrane pink. And I arrived back to my Bedouin friend with this lump of thick, thick rubber and I stuffed it, shamelessly onto my saddle. … But after a while they looked and they saw it was quite comfy, too, and they could bounce more easily on sponge rubber than you could on wooden hump, so they began to ask me to buy more. So I was requisitioning tons of this damn stuff, yards of it. I think I introduced sponge rubber into Arabian culture. … They called me [in Arabic] “the father of rubber.”
Peter O’Toole’s most iconic role was playing T.E. Lawrence in the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia. This year, we spoke to author Scott Anderson who wrote a book called Lawrence IN Arabia. The interview goes into detail about Lawrence’s background in archeology and medieval military history and his affinity for Arab culture.