Laurence Olivier - Rotten Tomatoes

Laurence Olivier

Highest Rated:   100% War Requiem (1990)
Lowest Rated:   0% Inchon (1981)
Birthday:  
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

Photos

Highest Rated Movies

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT BOX OFFICE YEAR
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
72% Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
  • Dr. Totenkopf
$37.6M 2004
No Score Yet Clouds Over Europe
  • Actor
2000
No Score Yet Shakespeare's Women & Claire Bloom
  • Actor
1998
100% War Requiem
  • Old Soldier/NarratorOld 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
82% 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
66% Clash of the Titans
  • Zeus
1981
0% Inchon
  • Gen. Douglas MacArthur
1981
15% The Jazz Singer
  • Cantor Rabinovitch
1980
64% Dracula
  • Prof. Abraham Van Helsing
1979
69% A Little Romance
  • Julius
1979
70% The Boys from Brazil
  • Ezra Lieberman
1978
No Score Yet Daphne Laureola
  • Actor
1978
No Score Yet The Betsy
  • Loren Hardeman
1978
65% A Bridge Too Far
  • Doctor Spaander
1977
No Score Yet Jesus of Nazareth
  • Nicodemus
1977
No Score Yet Come Back, Little Sheba
  • Actor
1977
82% 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
71% Nicholas and Alexandra
  • Count Witte
1971
No Score Yet David Copperfield
  • Mr. Creakle
1970
75% Oh! What A Lovely War
  • Field Marshal Sir John French
1969
63% Battle of Britain
  • Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding
1969
97% Romeo and Juliet
  • Narrator of Prologue
1968
50% The Shoes of the Fisherman
  • Piotr Ilyich Kamenev
1968
100% Khartoum
  • The Mahdi
1966
80% Othello
  • Othello
1965
83% Bunny Lake Is Missing
  • Superintendent Newhouse
1965
No Score Yet Term of Trial
  • Graham Weir
1962
96% Spartacus
  • Marcus Licinius Crassus
1960
89% The Entertainer
  • Archie Rice
1960
No Score Yet The Devil's Disciple
  • Gen. John Burgoyne
1959
83% The Prince and the Showgirl
  • Director
  • Producer
  • The Regent
1957
80% 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
No Score Yet Carrie
  • George Hurstwood
1952
91% 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)
  • Director
1946
100% This Happy Breed
  • Narrator
1944
No Score Yet Olivier's Shakespeare
  • Director
  • Actor
1944
No Score Yet The Demi-Paradise
  • Ivan Kouznetsoff
1943
88% 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
100% 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

TV

RATING TITLE CREDIT YEAR
No Score Yet Great Performances
2000
  • Appearing
  • Actor
  • 2014
No Score Yet Masterpiece
1971-2015
  • Actor
  • 1987

Quotes from Laurence Olivier's Characters