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Confessions Of An Actor

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  199 ratings  ·  18 reviews
Laurence Olivier was a true legend. No classical actor had ever been such a dazzling star. No star had been such a magnificent actor. In this marvellous autobiography Laurence Olivier tells his own story: his brilliant career as actor, director, film-maker and producer; his role as husband to three women including Vivien Leigh and Joan Plowright; and his many friendships - ...more
Published November 3rd 1994 by Orion (first published 1982)
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Joy H.
Added 9/29/13.

This book was very readable because Olivier seems to be talking directly to the reader. It was interesting getting his perspective of the theater world. He mentions the many classic plays he acted in, so many of which I had never even heard of. His interactions with the theater world and the film world made interesting reading. Of course there were people I had heard of but there were also many names that were new to me.

He tells about the period in his life when he suffered from "s
Alexander Arsov
Laurence Olivier

Confessions of an Actor

Weidenfeld & Nicholson, Hardback, [1982].

8vo. xii+305 pp. Appendices, Chronology, Index [pp. 262-305]. 48 pages with black-and-white photographs.


List of Illustrations

Part One
1. How It Began
2. Cradle to Choirboy
3. Rough, Not Ready
4. Gags and Giggles

Part Two
5. New Wife, New World
6. Call to Arms
7. Hired and Fired
8. The Feverish Fifties Begin
9. Le Fievre Recule Pour Mieux Sauter
10. The Prince and the Showgirl

Part Three
11. Sea Changes
12. The Start of
"We had never before been made to face the extent to which our lives together had been supported and bolstered up by the companionship of our friends and the glitter of our position."

The heart of this book is the rise and fall of the marriage of Laurence and Vivien Leigh. From Leigh's falling out of love, manic depression, nervous breakdowns, and ultimately to shock treatment.

He's worked beside so many Hollywood legends; made me wish he could shed more light on them than simply the word "lov
[These notes were made in 1984:]. Olivier's autobiography is full of satisfying detail and even more satisfying name-dropping. Instead of adopting the usual self-justificatory tone, he inverts it to one of deep humility - a rather self-conscious humility, at that: no doubt the consequence of growing up a minister's son. If there is one habit he has that really irks me, it's that of adding "ie" on to everyone's name - "Ralphie," "Willie Walton," "Noelie." The two real standouts from thais rule ar ...more
This book does not give much away about his 'preferences' because it is an autobiography so for potential PR reasons some things may not have been written about and understandably so. I read this book more to learn about his side of stories of him working with Marilyn in my all time favourite Marilyn Monroe film The Prince and the Showgirl and to get a more detailed description of vivien leigh's struggle with her mental health. This book was very interesting. More detail on his time with these l ...more
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This book was enlightening to me. I had for some reason always assumed that Laurence Olivier was more like the characters he acted in his movies and plays -- dark, brooding, moody types. But it turns out he was quite the opposite. He enjoyed playing pranks and trying to get his fellow actors to laugh in the middle of a play. His writing also shows a sense of humor.
It's far from being the best autobiography ever - at times it felt like a listing of the stage plays he was in; but there's also some interesting information in it, so I'd recommend it to Laurence Olivier-fans nonetheless.
Jessica Barkl
Uhhhh....this book is Fabulous, with a capital "F". For all of you out there who love a trashy novel about someone real: this is your hot ticket. Loved it!
Some extremely minor details clouded the revelations that varied in significance but also revealed the author/actor's great intelligence.
El libro está bien. He echado de menos algo más de concreción en las fechas.

La edición española (Torres de papel) es terrible.
I read this mainly to get Olivier's perspective on Vivien Leigh. It was good though, for being autobiographical.
This book made Olivier feel like an old friend. I appreciated his emotional honesty and intimacy in the writing.
Very sweet autobiography that is also insightful about one of the greatest actors ever acting methods.
J. D.
An entertaining and enlightening view of a great actor's life. I found the self-deprecating humor soothing.
Charlotte Smith
Stunningly written, witty and thought provoking.
A little bit pedantic, but still interesting.
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