British actor, director and producer (1907–1989)
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- Acting is illusion, as much illusion as magic is — and not so much a matter of being real. I mean, I would probably shock Lee Strasberg.
- As quoted in Famous Actors and Actresses on the American Stage (1975) by William C. Young, p. 885
- If I wasn't an actor, I think I'd have gone mad. You have to have extra voltage, some extra temperament to reach certain heights. Art is a little bit larger than life — it's an exhalation of life and I think you probably need a little touch of madness.
- As quoted in Laurence Olivier (1979) by Foster Hirsch, p. 166
- Never. The shot is too big for the cannon.
- On filming Shakespeare, before he did it, as quoted in Olivier (2005) by Terry Coleman
- I think that bloody old National nearly killed me.
- On the Royal National Theatre, as quoted in Olivier (2005) by Terry Coleman
- Like coming for a living.
- On acting to a live audience, as quoted in Olivier (2005) by Terry Coleman
Quotes about OlivierEdit
- He could speak Shakespeare's lines as naturally as if he were actually thinking them.
- Such subtlety, such detail, biting deeper into the role than any actor of my time, or indeed any time.
- Bernard Miles, quoted in Olivier by Terry Coleman, Bloomsbury, 2005, p. 504
- I'm breaking all the rules, but I have to say you have been my idol. I admit being jealous of an actor. How I would like to have been what you are. How I wish my career had approximated yours. You have never deserted or failed to serve our profession. Sir, to be presented an award by you gives me infinite pride. You, being a Lord, have raised me to a slightly higher position. I don't feel that I'm quite such a commoner. But, more important, I'm Eddie and you're Larry. And how much easier that is.
- Edward G. Robinson, portion of never-delivered acceptance speech—addressed to prospective presenter Olivier—for what eventually proved to be Robinson's posthumously awarded Honorary Oscar; All My Yesterdays: An Autobiography (1973), by Edward G. Robinson, p. 283
- I think you're the only actor in the world who plays in a Shakespeare play with a special, tender familiarity as if you were keeping it in the family.
- J. D. Salinger, in a letter to Olivier dated 1 September 1951, quoted in Olivier by Coleman, p. 240
- When I was young, I used to queue at the theater early in the morning to see Olivier. His performances were electrifying...I admired their originality and courage...and their terror. There is no acting like it today. He made me want to become part of the theater.
- Peter Shaffer, quoted in Theater Week Magazine 1989.
- As a man and an actor he was an inspiration. I loved him.
- Dorothy Tutin, actress, quoted in Olivier by Coleman, p. 504