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Monday, January 05, 2009


Laurence Olivier: legendary thespian and cussin'-machine.

While reading Boze Hadleigh's highly entertaining behind-the-glamor tell-all, BROADWAY BABYLON (2007, Back Stage Books), among the million other classic tidbits I was delighted to find this bit of erudite commentary from the late Sir Laurence Olivier:

“How dare you call yourself an actor? You’re not even a bad actor. You can’t act at all, you fucking stupid hopeless sniveling little cunt-faced cunty fucking shit-faced arsehole.” — Laurence Olivier to Laurence Harvey at a dinner party after Harvey criticized John Gielgud’s acting, as quoted by Harvey’s biographer and sister-in-law, Anne Sinai.

And the rest of the book is equally memorable. Get yours today!


Czel said...

Laurence Olivier? He had nothing on Brittany, NOTHING!

Satyrblade said...

Huh. I would have expected someone who'd done that much Shakespeare to be more inventive with insults and profanity.

I always loved his question to Dustin Hoffman when they were doing Marathon Man together. Hoffman had gone days without sleep, had worn himself ragged and was teeting somewhere past the edges of exaustion. When Olivier asked him why he was doing all this, Method man Hoffman replied that he wanted to stay in character. "Dear boy," Olivier supposedly replied, "Why don't you try acting?"

Of course, this also explains why I think Hoffman could act circles around Olivier, whom I consider - in most cases - to have been the inspiration for John Lovitz's Master Thespian character on Saturday Night Live: "I am ACTING!!!"

(Hmmmm... let's see... Kevin Bragnah's Henry V... Olivier's Henry V... No question. My props go to Bragnah, who's chewed his own share of scenery in his day, but never as badly as Oliver - except maybe in Frankenstein.)

My hat (if I wore one, that is) remains off to Gielgud, who was game for almost anything and marvelous through it all. Asked about Peter Greenaway's bizarre film Prospero's Books, Sir John admidded he hadn't had the slightest idea what Greenaway was going for with the film. Even so, he got naked, voiced all the roles in the production and got peed on by a little boy, regardless. Now THAT'S an actor!

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