‘Does he prefer films to theatre? “I enjoy both,” Olivier replied, “but in general the film is the director’s medium, the theatre is the actor’s medium”.’ (Karsh)
Olivier performed all the major Shakespearian roles and from 1963 to 1973 was the Director of the National Theatre in London. His first Shakespearian success was on the stage in Hamlet at the Old Vic in 1937. In his film career he starred in Wuthering Heights (1939), Rebecca (1940) and in adaptations of Shakespeare’s Henry V (1944), Hamlet (1948) and Richard III (1955), which he also directed. The Olivier Theatre, which is part of the National Theatre, is named in his honour. He was married to Vivien Leigh from 1940 to 1961 and to Joan Plowright from 1961. In 1970 he became Lord Olivier, the first actor to be named a baron in English history.