Acting – Two Approaches

“We were, and indeed are, very different actors and people. I will always be an active actor, and John a passive one. I’m a peripheral player who goes out to the character, whereas he stays in the center, finds something in the part that will suit him, then pulls it in towards himself.”

Olivier, contrasting himself with John Gielgud. On Acting, Laurence Olivier.

Olivier gets a lesson from Tyrone Guthrie


“Something significant happened to me a short time before I played Richard. I was in Manchester playing Sergius in Arms and the Man. One night, Tyrone Guthrie came to see it, and after the show he and I began walking back to the hotel together. I remember the spot vividly: we were under the canopy at the front of the opera house. I still think of it whenever I’m in Manchester, walking to the studio from the Midland Hotel. He stopped and said, “Liked you very much.”
And I said, “Thank you. Thanks very much.”
Hearing my tone, he asked, “What’s the matter Don’t you like the part?”
To which I replied, “Really, Tony, if you weren’t so tall I’d hit you.”
He then asked me, “Don’t you love Sergius?”
I replied, “Are you out of your mind? How can you love a ridiculous fool of a man like that?”
At which he observed, “Well, of course, if you can’t love him, you’ll never be any good as him, will you?” Words of wisdom. I hadn’t looked at it in that way before. It taught me a great lesson.”

On Acting, Laurence Olivier

Olivier – Richard III, Jed Harris inspiration


“There, staring back at me from the mirror, was my Richard, exactly as I wanted him. I’d based my makeup on the American theater director Jed Harris, the most loathsome man I’d ever met. My revenge on Jed Harris was complete. He was apparently equally loathed by the man who created the Big Bad Wolf for Walt Disney.”

On Acting, Laurence Olivier.