Trivia / Hamlet

The play

1948 film

  • Acting for Two/Talking to Himself: Laurence Olivier played both Hamlet and his father.
  • BFI Top 100 British Films: #69
  • Dawson Casting: Laurence Olivier was 41 when he played the title role. Eileen Herlie, who played Gertrude, was 30. The former was actually a pragmatic choice; with Orson Welles adapting Macbeth and also prepping for his version of Othello, Hamlet was the only other option and he had to cast himself as the lead to secure funding.
  • Directed By Castmember: Laurence Olivier naturally played Hamlet, his father and was director.
  • Dueling Works: With Orson Welles's Macbeth. Laurence Olivier had planned to adapt that but changed to Hamlet when he realised the other one would come out first.
  • Jossed: For years it was suspected that John Gielgud was the voice of Hamlet's father. It was just Laurence Olivier himself with his voice altered. Amusingly enough he would later play the ghost twice more.
  • No Stunt Double: The final scene to be filmed was the famous shot of Laurence Olivier jumping off a high tower onto Claudius and killing him, because it was considered to be so dangerous that it was feared that Olivier would injure himself too badly performing the stunt to film any other scenes. Olivier emerged uninjured from the leap, but the stuntman doubling as Claudius was knocked out from the impact and lost two teeth.
  • The Other Marty: Stanley Holloway was an 11th-hour choice; the actor who was supposed to play the grave digger, F.J. McCormick, died shortly before filming.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The reason the film is in black and white? Laurence Olivier claims "I was in the middle of a furious row with Technicolor."
  • Those Two Actors: This was the first of 24 films in which Christopher Lee (Spear Carrier) and Peter Cushing (Osric) both appeared.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Vivien Leigh, who was married to Laurence Olivier at the time, wanted to play Ophelia but Olivier felt she was too famous, and cast the relatively unknown Jean Simmons instead.
    • Many actresses reportedly turned down the role of Gertrude because of "age concerns".
    • Claire Bloom auditioned for the role of Ophelia. She would later get to play Lady Anne in Richard III, Laurence Olivier's final Shakespeare film (directed by him anyway).

1990 film:

1996 film


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