Laurence Olivier: Career, Movies, Height, Hit Movies, Roles

Laurence Olivier

The man who dominated the Theatre stage in Britain was none other than Laurence Olivier. Olivier, along with John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson, were the three men who dominated the stage in Britain. 

Although he was a big movie star, Laurence Olivier was also known for his plays and, later in life, for his television roles. 

Laurence Olivier started his schooling at All Saints Choir School at the age of nine. At that time, he made a theatrical debut, which was Brutus, in an abridgment of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. 

After five years, he played the female lead role in a film named “The Taming of the Shrew” at st. Edward School. In the early stage, he didn’t get noticed by the theatrical notables of that era. Later, a prolonged struggle period made him capable and then he became a successful Hollywood actor. 

So, if you want to know more about Laurence Olivier and his early life, movies, and other things, keep reading until the end!

So if you wanna know more about Laurence Olivier movies and the man himself, then keep on scrolling. 

Personal Biography

Before you scroll down, here are a couple of facts about Olivier that you might find interesting and will help you know him better. 

BornLaurence Kerr Olivier,
22 May 1907, 
Dorking, Surrey, England
Died11 July 1989 (aged 82)
Resting PlaceSteyning, West Sussex, England
Occupation Actor, Producer, Director
Years Active1925 – 1988
Laurence Olivier SpouseJill Esmond (m. 1930 – div. 1940)
Vivien Leigh (m. 1930 – div. 1960)
Joan Plowright (m. 1961)
Height 1.78 m

Early Life

Early Life
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Laurence was the son of a clergyman and had no background in acting. But his father wanted his son to become an actor, so he was enrolled in drama school. 

Olivier was the youngest among three siblings to his parents, Reverend Gerard Kerr Olivier, and his mother, Agnes Louise. When Olivier was only 6 years old, when the family found a permanent place to settle, and Laurence could make friends for himself. 

Olivier was admitted to a preparatory school where he was in the choir group and the drama club. For a school play, Laurence was selected to play Brutus in Julius Caesar, the audience much appreciated his performance. He was also in other plays like The Taming of the Shrew and Twelfth Night. 


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Seeing his acting talents, his father enrolled him in the Central School of Speech Training and Dramatic Arts. During his initial acting career, he was in a sketch, The Unfailing Instinct. From then, he did important parts in plays like She Stoops to Conquer, Uncle Vanya, and All’s Well That Ends Well. 

Laurence Olivier became a rising star with the play The Temporary Widow and Too Many Cooks. He was then cast in other plays like Private Lives, The Old Wives’ Tales, Wuthering Heights, and Of Human Bondage. 

In 1931, he began his acting career with the films Friends and Lovers, The Yellow Ticket, Westward Passage, Perfect Understanding, and No Funny Business. He was also in Queen Christina. He even did plays like Queen of Scots, Theatre Royal, and Romeo and Juliet. 

Laurence Olivier, in 1936, joined the Old Vic company, that specialized in plays by Shakespeare. Olivier here played in Hamlet, The Observer, Henry V, and the film version of As You Like It. The next year he was in a film with Vivien Leigh called Fire Over England. 

He was a part of the film The Divorce of Lady Iago, Q Planes, Wuthering Heights, and Rebecca by Alfred Hitchcock. Olivier also played the part of Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice. He was also in That Hamilton Woman, 49th Parallel, Henry V, Richard III, Arms and the Man, Peer Gynt, and Richard III. He was also in the main roles in plays like The Critic and Oedipus Rex. 

Laurence Olivier starred in Hollywood films like Carrie, The Sleeping Prince, and The Apple Cart and also in Anthony and Cleopatra, and also Macbeth. He was also paired with Marilyn Monroe in The Sleeping Prince and The Price and the Showgirl. 

In the 50s, he did plays like Forty Years On, Home, Rhinoceros, and films like The Devil’s Discipline, The Entertainer, The Moon and Sixpence, and Spartacus. 

Later Years

Later Years
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During his later years, Laurence Olivier wasn’t able to do many films due to his deteriorating health. But he did movies like Marathon Man, Long Day’s Journey into Night, Love Among the Ruins, The Boy From Brazil, and The Jazz Singer. 

He was also a part of movies like Inchon, Wild Geese II, The Bounty, and Brideshead Revisited. Olivier also appeared in television series like A Voyager Round My Father. His last Shakespearean play was King Lear in the main role. 

Personal Life

Personal Life

In his personal life, Laurence Olivier was married three times, but he had no children. First, he was married to Jill Esmond, the daughter of a fellow actor Hemry V. Esmond. 

The marriage was short-lived, and they both knew that marrying each other was a mistake after 10 years of marriage, they finally got divorced. 

Next, Laurence Olivier found love with actress Vivien Leigh. The couple was quite a pair and appeared in many plays and films together. 

The two got married in 1940 and remained married for twenty years when they lost each other to work commitments, and Leigh began to have an affair with a fellow actor. They, too, got divorced after twenty years of married life in 1960. 

Finally, Olivier got married to Joan Plowright, with whom Olivier remained married till the day he died. But the couple never had kids. Laurence could experience fatherhood with Suzanne Farrington, who was Vivien Leigh’s daughter from a previous marriage, before Olivier. 

Lesser Known Facts About Laurence Olivier

Laurence Olivier was undeniably a successful American actor. He was not just a master of drama in the classic 20th century of Bollywood but also a noble person. Here are some lesser-known facts about Laurence Olivier. 

  • In recent times, Laurence is remembered because of his extraordinary works at past times in the Hollywood film industry. At the end of 1973, he feared that he might be impoverished and have to leave his family with nothing. Thus, he started taking the toles to keep his income steady. 
  • Despite his fame and wealth, everyone insisted on him as “Larry.” He received Knighthood awards for his contributions on screen and stage. 
  • Do you know that Olivier served two to five years of his entire career as a director of the National Theatre? When this theatre was first opened, his first production was Helmet in 1963. Apart from that, there is also an award known as the Laurence Olivier Award. This award is given to an actor and actress every year for playing the best role in the city. 
  • Another one of the most mysterious truths about Laurence Olivier is he was married three times. Every marriage of his lasted for 20 years. His partners appeared in three movies together, including That Hamilton Woman, 21 Days, etc.
  • While Olivier acted in a cinema, he didn’t think much about the character. But he just fully immersed himself in the character. Apart from that, he was also a good friend of Marlon Brando. 
  • Another interesting truth about Olivier is his cool relationship with his father. At the same time, he considered following his brother to make a living in India; instead, his father told him to follow his sister to the Central School of Speech Training and Dramatic Act

Wrapping Up!

Now that you are aware of the magnetic personality and acting talents of Laurence Olivier, it’s high time that you see a few of his movies to understand his charisma. He was known for his stage presence and theatre acting, but films like Laurence Olivier’s Othello are just magnificent. 

Olivier is credited for making British films and actors famous. He had a deep love for theatre. He starred in more than 100 movies. He also starred in films as a director. If you have some of his iconic works throughout his career, please comment below.

So if you are looking forward to seeing the films by Laurence Olivier, then surely let us know which of his films you loved the most.

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Nabamita Sinha