Laurence Olivier

Laurence Olivier

Highest Rated: 100% War Requiem (1990)

Lowest Rated: 0% Inchon (1981)

Birthday: May 22, 1907

Birthplace: Dorking, Surrey, United Kingdom

Laurence Olivier -- Sir Laurence after 1947, Lord Laurence after 1970 -- has been variously lauded as the greatest Shakespearean interpreter of the 20th century, the greatest classical actor of the era, and the greatest actor of his generation. Although his career took a rather desperate turn toward the end when he seemed willing to appear in almost anything, the bulk of Olivier's 60-year career stands as a sterling example of extraordinary craftsmanship. Olivier was the son of an Anglican minister, who, despite his well-documented severity, was an unabashed theater lover, enthusiastically encouraging young Olivier to give acting a try. The boy made his first public appearance at age nine, playing Brutus in an All Saint's production of Julius Caesar. No member of the audience was more impressed than actress Dame Sybil Thorndike, who knew then and there that Olivier had what it took. Much has been made of the fact that the 15-year-old Olivier played Katherine in a St. Edward's School production of The Taming of the Shrew; there was, however, nothing unusual at the time for males to play females in all-boy schools. (For that matter, the original Shakespeare productions in the 16th and 17th centuries were strictly stag.) Besides, Olivier was already well versed in playing female roles, having previously played Maria in Twelfth Night. Two years after The Taming of the Shrew, he enrolled at the Central School of Speech Training and Dramatic Art, where one of his instructors was Claude Rains. Olivier made his professional London debut the same year in The Suliot Officer, and joined the Birmingham Repertory in 1926; by the time Olivier was 20, he was playing leads. His subsequent West End stage triumphs included Journey's End and Private Lives. In 1929, he made his film debut in the German-produced A Temporary Widow. He married actress Jill Esmond in 1930, and moved with her to America when Private Lives opened on Broadway. Signed to a Hollywood contract by RKO in 1931, Olivier was promoted as "the new Ronald Colman," but he failed to make much of an impression onscreen. By the time Greta Garbo insisted that he be replaced by John Gilbert in her upcoming Queen Christina (1933), Olivier was disenchanted with the movies and vowed to remain on-stage. He graduated to full-fledged stardom in 1935, when he was cast as Romeo in John Gielgud's London production of Romeo and Juliet. (He also played Mercutio on the nights Gielgud assumed the leading role himself.) It was around this time that Olivier reportedly became fascinated with the works of Sigmund Freud, which led to his applying a "psychological" approach to all future stage and screen characters. Whatever the reason, Olivier's already superb performances improved dramatically, and, before long, he was being judged on his own merits by London critics, and not merely compared (often disparagingly) to Gielgud or Ralph Richardson. It was in collaboration with his friend Richardson that Olivier directed his first play in 1936, which was also the year he made his first Shakespearean film, playing Orlando in Paul Czinner's production of As You Like It. Now a popular movie leading man, Olivier starred in such pictures as Fire Over England (1937), 21 Days (1938), The Divorce of Lady X (1938), and Q Planes (1939). He returned to Hollywood in 1939 to star as Heathcliff in Samuel Goldwyn's glossy (and financially successful) production of Wuthering Heights, earning the first of 11 Oscar nominations. He followed this with leading roles in Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca (1940),Pride and Prejudice (1940), and Alexander Korda's That Hamilton Woman (1941), co-starring in the latter with his second wife, Vivien Leigh. Returning to England during World War II, Olivier served as a parachute officer in the Royal Navy. Since he was stationed at home, so to speak, he was also able to serve as co-director (with Ralph Richardson) of the Old Vic. His most conspicuous contribution to the war effort was his joyously


Highest Rated Movies



67% Never Apologize: A Personal Visit With Lindsay Anderson Actor 2007
No Score Yet Tony Palmer's Classic Film of John Osborne and the Gift of Friendship Actor 2006
70% Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow Dr. Totenkopf $37.7M 2004
No Score Yet Clouds Over Europe Actor 2000
No Score Yet Shakespeare's Women & Claire Bloom Actor 1998
100% War Requiem Old Soldier/Narrator Old Soldier 1990
No Score Yet Lost Empires Actor 1987
No Score Yet Peter the Great King William of Orange 1986
No Score Yet Wild Geese 2 Rudolf Hess 1985
57% Terror in the Aisles Actor 1984
74% The Bounty Admiral Hood 1984
No Score Yet A Voyage Round My Father Father 1984
No Score Yet The Ebony Tower Actor 1984
No Score Yet The Jigsaw Man Adm. Sir Gerald Scaith 1984
No Score Yet Mr. Halpern and Mr. Johnson Mr. Halpern 1983
No Score Yet King Lear King Lear 1983
No Score Yet Wagner Actor 1983
No Score Yet Laurence Olivier: A Life Actor 1982
68% Clash of the Titans Zeus 1981
0% Inchon Gen. Douglas MacArthur 1981
19% The Jazz Singer Cantor Rabinovitch 1980
59% Dracula Prof. Abraham Van Helsing 1979
71% A Little Romance Julius 1979
69% The Boys from Brazil Ezra Lieberman 1978
No Score Yet Daphne Laureola Actor 1978
No Score Yet The Betsy Loren Hardeman 1978
No Score Yet Saturday, Sunday, Monday Actor 1978
64% A Bridge Too Far Doctor Spaander 1977
No Score Yet Come Back, Little Sheba Actor 1977
79% The Seven-Per-Cent Solution Prof. Moriarty 1976
80% Marathon Man Szell 1976
No Score Yet Cat On A Hot Tin Roof Actor 1976
No Score Yet Laurence Olivier Presents Actor 1976
No Score Yet Hindle Wakes Director 1976
No Score Yet Love Among the Ruins Arthur Cranville-Jones 1975
No Score Yet The Gentleman Tramp Narrator 1975
No Score Yet The Three Sisters Ivan Chebutikin Director 1974
No Score Yet The Rehearsal Actor 1974
No Score Yet The Merchant Of Venice Shylock 1973
96% Sleuth Andrew Wyke 1972
No Score Yet Lady Caroline Lamb Duke of Wellington 1972
67% Nicholas and Alexandra Count Witte 1971
No Score Yet David Copperfield Mr. Creakle 1970
79% Oh! What A Lovely War Field Marshal Sir John French 1969
67% Battle of Britain Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding 1969
95% Romeo and Juliet Narrator of Prologue Chorus 1968
43% The Shoes of the Fisherman Piotr Ilyich Kamenev 1968
100% Khartoum The Mahdi 1966
82% Othello Othello 1965
87% Bunny Lake Is Missing Superintendent Newhouse 1965
No Score Yet Term of Trial Graham Weir 1962
93% Spartacus Marcus Licinius Crassus 1960
77% The Entertainer Archie Rice 1960
No Score Yet The Devil's Disciple Gen. John Burgoyne 1959
71% The Prince and the Showgirl Director Producer The Regent 1957
84% Richard III Director Richard III 1956
No Score Yet A Queen Is Crowned Narrator 1953
No Score Yet The Beggar's Opera Producer Capt. MacHeath 1953
No Score Yet The Magic Box Police Constable 94-B (uncredited) 1952
83% Carrie George Hurstwood 1952
95% Hamlet Director Producer Screenwriter Hamlet 1948
100% Henry V (The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France) Producer 1946
100% This Happy Breed Narrator 1944
No Score Yet Olivier's Shakespeare Actor Director 1944
No Score Yet The Demi-Paradise Ivan Kouznetsoff 1943
92% 49th Parallel (The Invaders) Johnnie 1941
100% That Hamilton Woman Lord Horatio Nelson 1941
100% Pride and Prejudice Fitzwilliam Darcy 1940
100% Rebecca Maxim de Winter 1940
No Score Yet 21 Days Larry Durrant 1940
96% Wuthering Heights Heathcliff 1939
No Score Yet Q Planes Actor 1939
No Score Yet The Divorce of Lady X Everard Logan 1938
No Score Yet Fire Over England Michael Ingolby 1937
No Score Yet As You Like It Orlando 1936
No Score Yet Conquest of Air Vincent Lunardi 1936
No Score Yet I Stand Condemned Capt. Ignatoff 1936
No Score Yet Perfect Understanding Nicholas Randall 1933


No Score Yet Great Performances
Appearing 2014
No Score Yet Masterpiece
No Score Yet Jesus of Nazareth
Nicodemus 1977
80% Brideshead Revisited
Lord Marchmain
No Score Yet The World at War
Host Narrator Voice


Szell says: Is it safe? To go in the water?

Dr. Totenkopf says: Who dares come before me? Who dares enter this place? What has begun cannot be stopped. The time for this world is over.

Polly Perkins says: Totenkopf.

Joe "Sky Captain" Sullivan says: Hello, doctor. Why are you doing this

Dr. Totenkopf says: I have been witness to a world consumed by hatred and bent on self-destruction, watched as we have taken what was to be a paradise and failed in our responsibilites as its steward. I know now that the course of human race has set for itself cannot be changed. I am the last desperate chance for a doomed planet. Now, leave this place or die!

Szell says: Is it safe?

Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding says: I don't care much for propaganda, Minister. If we're right, they'll quit. If they're right, they'll be in London in a week.

Zeus says: Release the kraken!

Zeus says: (abolut Kalibos) He will become abhorrent. He shall be shunned and forced to live as an outcast in the swamps and marshes! He will become a mortal mockery. A fitting mark for his vile cruelty... That is my judgement.

Zeus says: [abolut Kalibos] He will become abhorrent. He shall be shunned and forced to live as an outcast in the swamps and marshes! He will become a mortal mockery. A fitting mark for his vile cruelty... That is my judgement.

Richard III says: Now is the winter of our discontent, made glorious summer by this sun of York. And all the clouds that glowered upon our house in the deep bosem of the ocean, buried. Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths, our bruised arms hung up for monuments, our stern alarums changed to merry meetings. Our dreadful marches to delightful measures. Grim visaged war has smoothed his wrinkled front. And now, instead of mounting barbed steeds to fright the souls of fearful adversaries, he capers nimbly in a lady's chamber, to the lascivious pleasing of alute. But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks, nor made to court an amorous looking glass, I that am rudely stamped, and want love's majesty to strut before a wanton ambling nymph, I that am curtailed of this fair proportion, cheated of feature by dissembling nature. Deformed! Unfinished. Sent before my time into this breathing world scarce half made-up! And that so lamely and unfasionable that dogs bark at me as I halt by them. Why, love foreswore me in my mother's womb. And for I should not deal in her soft laws, should it corrupt frail nature with some bribe to shrimp mine arm up like a withered shrub. To heap a hidious mountain on my back. To shake my legs upon unequel size. To disproportion me in every part. Like to a chaos! Or an unlicked bare fret that carries no impression like the d*mned. Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace, have no delight to pass away the time. Except to spy my shadow in the sun, and descant on mine own deformity. Then, since this earth provides no joy for me, but to command, to check, to forebare such an hour of better persons than myself, I'll make my heaven to dream... upon the crown. And while I live, I shall account this world but h*ll, until this misshaped trunk that bears this head givin this glorious crown. But, yet, I know not how to get the crown, for many lives stand between me and it. And thus, I am like one lost in a thorny wood, that rends the thorns and is caught with the thorns, seeking away and straying from the way, not knowing how to find the open air, but toiling desperately to find it out! Torment myself to catch the English crown! And by that torment I will free myself, or hew my way out with the bloody axe! Why, I can smile, and murder while I smile. I can wet my cheeks with artificial tears, and frame my face to all occasions. Why, I'll drown more sailors than the mermaids shall. Decieve more slyly than Ureses could, and like a siron, take another troy. I can add colors to the canyons, change shape with many advantages, and set the murderous bell to through! Can I do this? Can I get a crown? Tut, were it further off, I'll pluck it down.

Richard III says: Here, pitch our tents. Even here, in Bosworth Field.

Richard III says: Teach not thy lips such scorn, for they were made for kissing, Lady.

Sir William Catesby says: My liege! The Duke of Buckingham is taken!

Richard III says: Off with his head. So much for Buckingham.

Maxim de Winter says: And I should be making violent love to you behind a palm tree.

Maxim de Winter says: It's gone forever, that funny young, lost look I loved won't ever come back. I killed that when I told you about Rebecca. It's gone. In a few hours, you've grown so much older.

Heathcliff says: I didn't break your heart, Cathy, you did. And mine.

Marcus Licinius Crassus says: "I shall not violate Rome at the moment of possessing her"

Marcus Licinius Crassus says: I shall not violate Rome at the moment of possessing her.

Marcus Licinius Crassus (some scenes 1991 restoratio says: "Sneak out"

Marcus Licinius Crassus (some scenes 1991 restoratio says: Sneak out.

Glabrus says: "As you wish"

Glabrus says: As you wish.

Marcus Licinius Crassus says: "And for heaven's sake, my young friend, try and see to it that you don't have to sneak back again"

Marcus Licinius Crassus says: And for heaven's sake, my young friend, try and see to it that you don't have to sneak back again.

Marcus Licinius Crassus says: "We've already been made to look a fool. Let's not add the trappings of a clown"

Marcus Licinius Crassus says: We've already been made to look a fool. Let's not add the trappings of a clown.

Glabrus says: "I don't know how I shall ever be able to repay you"

Glabrus says: I don't know how I shall ever be able to repay you.

Marcus Licinius Crassus says: "Time will solve that mystery"

Marcus Licinius Crassus says: Time will solve that mystery.

Szell says: Is it safe?