[[KnightFever Baron Olivier of Brighton]] '''Laurence Olivier''' (May 22, 1907 -- July 11, 1989) was an English actor and director, considered by many the greatest actor of the twentieth century. His roles range from the AcademyAward-winning title role of ''{{Hamlet}}'' (which he also directed) to a [[GoldenRaspberryAward Razzie]]-winning supporting role in the remake of ''Film/TheJazzSinger''.

As a film director, he's best known for his three Creator/WilliamShakespeare adaptations: ''Theatre/HenryV'' (1944), ''Theatre/{{Hamlet}}'' (1948), and ''Theatre/RichardIII'' (1955). He also played the title role in each, being nominated for the Best Actor Oscar each time. He won for ''Hamlet'', which also won Best Picture (the ''only'' movie spoken in Shakespeare's dialogue to win to date) and earned Olivier a Best Director nomination (making him the only person to direct ''himself'' to an Oscar until Roberto Benigni won an Oscar for acting in ''LifeIsBeautiful'' 50 years later).

He also received two honorary Academy Awards: the first in 1947 for Outstanding Achievement for his ''HenryV'', 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 ''Literature/WutheringHeights'' (1939), Maxim de Winter in ''{{Rebecca}}'' (1940), the title role in ''The Entertainer'' (1960), the title role in ''Theatre/{{Othello}}'' (1965), Andrew Wyke in ''{{Sleuth}}'' (1972), Dr Christian Szell in ''MarathonMan'' (1976), and Ezra Lieberman in ''Film/TheBoysFromBrazil'' (1978).

In what was perhaps the logical extreme to both their careers, Creator/KennethBranagh netted an AcademyAward nomination for playing Olivier in ''Film/MyWeekWithMarilyn''.

[[http://www.laurenceolivier.com/ Official site]]
!!Tropes associated with Laurence Olivier include:

* DramaticPause: This [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0RFGBjG35Q anecdote]] by Peter Ustinov, Olivier's ''Film/{{Spartacus}}'' co-star on the Jack Paar Show demonstrates Olivier's tendencies toward this.
* LargeHam: Frequently labeled as such by detractors. Granted, Olivier was a classically trained stage actor, and it did become his default style in Shakespeare adaptations or his [[MoneyDearBoy paycheck roles]]. But anyone watching Olivier in, say, ''The Entertainer'' or ''Marathon Man'' would know he was capable of more nuanced performances.
* RealLife/MeanCharacterNiceActor: Despite playing Nazis and cruel emperors, he was known as a very friendly, down to earth guy in real life to the point that he hated being called by any of his royal titles and preferred to be addressed as Larry. He was such a nice guy that even Creator/MarlonBrando, who was known as a big jerkass, couldn't bring himself to seduce Vivien Leigh when they were married. Creator/DustinHoffman has said that, contrary to rumors that he and Olivier didn't get along while making ''Film/MarathonMan'', Olivier and wife Joan Plowright took Hoffman to dinner several times, and presented him with Olivier's personal copy of the Complete Works of Shakespeare once filming ended.
* MethodActing: He famously hated method acting, which is reassuring given [[Film/{{Spartacus}} some of]] [[MarathonMan the roles]] [[Film/TheBoysFromBrazil he played]].
** This hatred of method acting made filming ''ThePrinceAndTheShowgirl'' with Creator/MarilynMonroe 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 ''Film/MarathonMan'', Creator/DustinHoffman 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".
* MoneyDearBoy: TropeNamer. It was the reason he gave for appearing in ''Inchon'' (which netted him the second of his two [=Razzies=]). 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.
* PlayingGertrude: His film version of ''Hamlet'' is the TropeNamer.
* TheRival: John Gielgud. The two appeared in a stage production of ''Theatre/RomeoAndJuliet'' together in the '30s, clashed over acting styles and became the two preeminent Shakespearean actors of their day. The two initially disliked each other, but grew into VitriolicBestBuds later in life.
* RomanceOnTheSet: Met Vivien Leigh while filming ''Film/FireOverEngland'', and Joan Plowright during the stage production of ''The Entertainer''.
* SesquipedalianLoquaciousness: If his [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TSgvp0l1n2s 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.
* ShakespearianActors: He was one.