Veteran actor Peter O'Toole has cited his deteriorating health as the reason behind his decision to step away from the spotlight.

The 80-year-old movie icon announced his retirement last summer (12), 50 years after he broke into the industry with a star turn in 1962's Lawrence of Arabia, and he admits persistent health battles prompted him to quit acting.

O'Toole was hospitalised while filming a movie in Kazakhstan in 2011, and he admits the incident was the final push he needed to start considering his future.

He tells Britain's GQ magazine, "(Retiring) wasn't a sudden decision. I'd been a bit poorly. I'd caught some vicious viral infection in my lungs and bladder. Perhaps while filming in Kazakhstan, perhaps on the way back. The recovering gave me a lot of time to think...

"I thought of all the things I never wanted to do again. Getting up in the mornings... putting on trousers at 5.30 in the morning... Getting the old vocal equipment up to concert pitch at eight-a-f**king-clock in the morning and keeping at concert pitch until eight at f**king night. And I played leading roles right the way through (my career)... I'm 80. I don't fancy shuffling on as a butler."