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File:Laurence olivier 2853.jpg

Laurence Olivier (1907 – 1989) was an actor and director, considered by many the greatest actor of the twentieth century. His roles range from the Academy Award-winning title role of Hamlet (which he also directed) to a Razzie-winning supporting role in the remake of The Jazz Singer.

As a film director, he's best known for his three Shakespeare adaptations: Henry V (1944), Hamlet (1948), and Richard III (1955). He also played the title role in each, being nominated for the Best Actor Oscar each time (and winning for Hamlet, making him the first person to direct himself to an acting Oscar).

He also received two honorary Academy Awards: the first in 1947 for Outstanding Achievement for his Henry V, which he produced, directed and starred in; and a Lifetime Achievement award in 1979.

Other roles that attracted Academy Award nominations but not wins included Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights (1939), Maxim de Winter in Rebecca (1940), the title role in The Entertainer (1960), the title role in Othello (1965), Andrew Wyke in Sleuth (1972), Dr Christian Szell in Marathon Man (1976), and Ezra Lieberman in The Boys from Brazil (1978).


Tropes associated with Laurence Olivier include:

  • Dramatic Pause: This anecdote by Peter Ustinov, Olivier's Spartacus co-star on the Jack Paar Show demonstrates Olivier's tendencies toward this.
  • Knight Fever: Was made Sir Laurence Olivier in 1947, then ennobled as Baron Olivier of Brighton and also given the Order of Merit.
  • Method Acting: He famously hated method acting, which is reassuring given some of the roles he played. This hatred of method acting made filming The Prince And The Showgirl with Marilyn Monroe difficult for Olivier, since Marilyn's coach Paula Stasburg would insist she employ all the Stanislavskian techniques even in a read-through.
    • A story goes that, when filming Marathon Man, Dustin Hoffman stayed up all night in order to appear tired for a scene. Olivier was unimpressed by the show and said "Why not try acting, dear boy? It's easier".
  • Money, Dear Boy: Trope Namer. It was the reason he gave for appearing in Inchon (which netted him the second of his two Razzies).
    • Actually, he started doing film roles like Inchon - which he hated making - just for the money after he was forced out of his job as director of the National Theatre. He was worried that he would die and his family would be left with nothing.
  • Playing Gertrude: His film version of Hamlet is the Trope Namer.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: If his acceptance speech of an honourary Oscar at the 1979 Academy Awards ceremony is anything to go by. Actually, it is said that this speech was intended as a little dig at the American Academy over how they would applaud anything even if they didn't understand it. However, judging by some of his other interviews and comments, he really was that poetic.
  • Shakespearian Actors: He was one.
  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs: Type B. In defiance of his knighthood and later peerage, he insisted on being called Larry.
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