[[UsefulNotes/KnightFever Baron Olivier of Brighton]] Laurence Kerr 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 UsefulNotes/AcademyAward-winning title role of ''{{Hamlet}}'' (which he also directed) to a [[UsefulNotes/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),[[note]]which won Best Picture[[/note]] the title role in ''The Entertainer'' (1960), the title role in ''Theatre/{{Othello}}'' (1965), Andrew Wyke in ''Theatre/{{Sleuth}}'' (1972), Dr Christian Szell in ''Film/MarathonMan'' (1976), and Ezra Lieberman in ''Film/TheBoysFromBrazil'' (1978).

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

[[http://www.laurenceolivier.com/ Official site]]

!!Tropes associated with Laurence Olivier include:

* CreatorCouple:[[invoked]] He and Vivien Leigh appeared in many stage productions together but only two films.[[note]] Leigh auditioned for the role of Mrs. de Winter in ''Film/{{Rebecca}}'' but was passed over; the footage of her screen test with Olivier still exists.[[/note]] ''Film/ThatHamiltonWoman'' is considered the best and it was UsefulNotes/WinstonChurchill's favorite film.
* 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'', or his own favorite, Wyler's ''Carrie'' [[note]]As in Theodore Dreiser's ''Sister Carrie'' and not Creator/StephenKing's prom-from-hell[[/note]] or in Creator/OttoPreminger's ''Bunny Lake is Missing'' would know he was capable of more nuanced performances.
** It should also be noted that Olivier was such a great stage actor that he found acting for films harder than many other Hollywood stars since he found it hard to [[DamnYouMuscleMemory dial down his instinctive stagecraft]] for the cameras, and as a constant touring stage actor with a film career, he had to shift and juggle registers, something that actors of later generation (and MethodActing) were able to do more easily. Olivier credited Creator/WilliamWyler for teaching him how to act for films and felt his films with him were his best.
* 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.
** He was however known for a HairTriggerTemper and was capable of [[SirSwearsALot swearing a blue streak]] when agitated. One of Olivier's biographers records him unleashing a savage ClusterFBomb on Laurence Harvey for insulting John Gielgud in his presence. He could also be quite mean to his female co-stars. He hated Merle Oberon who was Cathy to his Heathcliff in the Samuel Goldwyn ''Wuthering Heights'' and treated her badly. He was also irritated with Creator/JoanFontaine on ''Rebecca'' and complained to Creator/AlfredHitchcock, "she can't act, old boy!". Likewise, Creator/StanleyKubrick ran into troubles when Olivier and his ArchEnemy Creator/CharlesLaughton were costars. Kubrick assigned Peter Ustinov to keep them from killing each other as they engaged in HamToHamCombat.
* 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. By most accounts, he had a similar relationship with Ralph Richardson.
** {{Averted}} with Sir Creator/MichaelRedgrave, who was a good friend of Olivier's and even acted in Olivier's production of Theatre/UncleVanya. Olivier, Redgrave, Richardson and Gielgud was considered the finest ShakespeareanActors of the time.
* 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.
* He was once caught by a plainclothes policeman in a public toilet in an entrapment sting to catch homosexuals; the reaction of the Prime Minister of the time, Harold Macmillan, was, "you know, I always thought he looked a bloody fool in men's clothes".