... On David Lean's EPIC 'Lawrence of Arabia':
The role of Sherif Ali was originally intended for Horst Buchholz but he was forced to turn it down owing to his commitment to Billy Wilder's movie One, Two, Three. Second choice Alain Delon tested successfully but suffered problems with the brown contact lenses required for the role. Maurice Ronet was then cast but was replaced after difficulties with his French accent and his Arabian dress (Lean complained "He looked like me walking around in drag").
Marlon Brando was signed for the role of T.E. Lawrence in 1960 but dropped out to take the role of Fletcher Christian in Mutiny on the Bounty. After that, Anthony Perkins was also briefly considered.
While filming, Peter O'Toole bonded with co-star Omar Sharif. Recalls Sharif, "Peter and I were like brothers immediately. He said to me, 'Your name is not Omar Sharif - no one is called Omar Sharif. Your real name is probably Freddy something!' And for the rest of the film and the rest of our lives, he's never called me Omar. He calls me Freddy."
To film Omar Sharif's entrance through a mirage, Freddie Young used a special 482mm lens from Panavision. Panavision still has this lens, and it is known among cinematographers as the "David Lean lens". It was created specifically for this shot and has not been used since.
Peter O'Toole finally mastered his camel-riding technique by adding a layer of sponge rubber under the saddle to ease his bruised backside...a practical innovation quickly adopted by the actual Bedouin tribesmen acting as extras during the desert location filming.
Peter O'Toole is considerably taller and better looking than the real T.E. Lawrence (6'3" to Lawrence's real life height of 5'6"). Noel Coward is rumored to have said, on seeing the premiere, "If he'd been any prettier, they'd have had to call it Florence of Arabia."
Alec Guinness had a life-long interest in T.E. Lawrence, and had played him in a production of Terence Rattigan's play "Ross" on stage. Guinness wanted very much to play Lawrence, but David Lean and Sam Spiegel both told him he was too old. Laurence Olivier was the original choice for Prince Feisal, and Guinness was shifted to that role when Olivier turned it down.
Peter O'Toole was nearly killed during the first take of the Aqaba scene. A gun (used to signal the beginning of the scene) went off prematurely, and O'Toole's camel panicked, throwing him to the ground, while the extras on horseback began charging. Fortunately for O'Toole, his camel stayed still and stood over O'Toole, saving him from being trampled.
The film took longer to make than it did for the real T.E. Lawrence to go from lieutenant to colonel, to see the desert tribes united and tip the balance in the Allies' favor against the Turks in World War I.
Alec Guinness was made up to look like the real Faisal as close as possible. When they were shooting in Jordan, several people who knew the man mistook him for the real thing. Guinness shaved his head for his role.
Anthony Quinn applied his own make-up and would often arrive in real Arab clothes. At one point, David Lean mistook him for a native on the studio lot and so he sent his assistant to tell Quinn that he had replaced by this new arrival.
The film was banned in many Arab countries as they felt they were misrepresented. Omar Sharif arranged with President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt to view the film to show him there was nothing wrong with the way they were portrayed. Nasser loved the film and allowed it to be released in Egypt where it went on to become a monster hit.
Peter O'Toole claimed that he learned more about acting from his few days of filming with José Ferrer than he did in all his years at drama school.
At one point when filming was progressing far too slowly for his liking, producer Sam Spiegel invited William Wyler to visit the set. He wanted Wyler to encourage Lean to rely more on his second units for filming additional scenes, as he had done on Ben-Hur. The visit was to no avail, however, as Lean was too much of a perfectionist to relinquish control.
The film missed out on a 11th Oscar nomination - for Best Costume Design - because someone forgot to submit Phyllis Dalton's name for consideration.
Dalton devised a subtle way to indicate T.E. Lawrence's failing grip. As the film progresses, his robes become thinner and thinner until they are virtually translucent.