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Laurence Olivier, Confession of an Actor: An Autobiography, by Olivier, Laurence


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Laurence Olivier, Confession of an Actor: An Autobiography, by Olivier, Laurence

30 review for Confessions of an Actor

  1. 4 out of 5

    W

    The autobiography of one of the great actors his time.Has more on his work in the British theatre,than his film career.Particularly interesting is his account of the difficulties of working with Marilyn Monroe,and his troubled marriage with Vivian Leigh.

  2. 5 out of 5

    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 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 "stage fright". Who would have guessed! To me it seemed that some of the sentences in the book were clumsily put together. Perhaps it indicates that he wrote from the heart and didn't go through an editor. It's his personal story. I'm glad I read it. It includes his marriages to Vivien Leigh and Joan Plowright, as well as his work with Marilyn Monroe. What a busy life he led!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Joe Rodeck

    "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 "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 "lovely." There is much of value from the master of the craft, but too much information: stuck on straight chronology with casts and roles, set decorators, fashion designers, asst producers, etc--mostly forgotten. I was amused to see somebody take a few shots at American Lee Strasberg Method Acting. "2.5% work. 97.5% do not. The profession has always been overcrowded. . . but the theatre arts possess a fatal fascination for too many people, and there seems to be no effective way of scaring them off." - Laurence Olivier "The Merchant of Venice" is horrid, cruel . . . what it more, it is thought to be eminently suitable for schoolchildren!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Annabelle

    An honest enough autobiography, and he can be very candid with his sexual shortcomings and modest with his artistic achievements, which are legion. He was in the air force, and could fly a plane--I never realized that. He regrets not having posted to battle, having been deemed more worthy doing propaganda films for the war effort. And the bubble has burst: the Oliviers, half of whom was Vivien Leigh, were not the soul mates we all thought them to be. That endearment goes to Joan Plowright, no An honest enough autobiography, and he can be very candid with his sexual shortcomings and modest with his artistic achievements, which are legion. He was in the air force, and could fly a plane--I never realized that. He regrets not having posted to battle, having been deemed more worthy doing propaganda films for the war effort. And the bubble has burst: the Oliviers, half of whom was Vivien Leigh, were not the soul mates we all thought them to be. That endearment goes to Joan Plowright, no raving beauty, but the much better partner for Olivier. I would have wanted to know more about the cinema, and what he thought of his co-stars, especially with his later movies--The Betsy, A Little Romance, Marathon Man...instead we get more of an in-depth review of his peers in the theatre, which was where his heart was, I suppose. All things considered, I can't help but wonder if he was made to write this autobiography in much the same way he was obliged to do The Betsy--for the money.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Crystal

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I read this while I was in high school. Certain moments still stick in my mind: his father's reaction to seeing him play Puck in school; his first marriage; how his affair with Vivien Leigh started; how after his divorce from Leigh he and friends played savior, and the state they found in her when they entered her home; the line about worrying he'd fall in love with Marilyn Monroe when they started filming and by the end of it he wanted to kill her.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    Olivier was one of the greatest actors of the 20th century. Perhaps the greatest, though comparison at his lofty level is folly and maybe even wrong-headed. He was also a difficult, vain, and in some ways startlingly weak man. All of this is more or less inadvertently revealed in his autobiography, which is compulsively readable, if at times petty, venal, and grasping in the extreme. He was a great man, but not a great soul. The autobiography is yet another brilliant performance, but pieced Olivier was one of the greatest actors of the 20th century. Perhaps the greatest, though comparison at his lofty level is folly and maybe even wrong-headed. He was also a difficult, vain, and in some ways startlingly weak man. All of this is more or less inadvertently revealed in his autobiography, which is compulsively readable, if at times petty, venal, and grasping in the extreme. He was a great man, but not a great soul. The autobiography is yet another brilliant performance, but pieced together, much like people said of his stage roles. It was as if there was no whole human being there, but one put together with a stance, a walk, a putty nose, hair and costume. By the time all the pieces were assembled, you had a semblance of a man. A brilliant man, in fact, but a construction. In the end, he was a conundrum, but one who lived to act, and maybe he was not mysterious at all, but as simple as that. Finally, you don't trust the autobiography, but it is fascinating.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Peter Burton

    Easy to read and informative especially on his marriages including Vivian Leigh and his movie with Marilyn Monroe,both of them horrendous experiences.It reads like hes talking to you.Probably not of interest to modern readers who have little knowledge of British theatre in the 1920s and 30s but worthwhile on his movie career.But I realised how distant those days from 1920s are - a completely different age,so probably only of interest to oldies.Its a little different with movies as we can still Easy to read and informative especially on his marriages including Vivian Leigh and his movie with Marilyn Monroe,both of them horrendous experiences.It reads like he’s talking to you.Probably not of interest to modern readers who have little knowledge of British theatre in the 1920s and 30s but worthwhile on his movie career.But I realised how distant those days from 1920s are - a completely different age,so probably only of interest to oldies.It’s a little different with movies as we can still see them and appreciate their style and skill but theatrical performances are gone forever.Sad really.We’ll never know their real power.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Marianna Androulaki

    Δεν μου ήταν γνωστός σαν προσωπικότητα. Παρ' όλ' αυτά, βρήκα εξαιρετικά ενδιαφέρουσες τις προσωπικές εξομολογήσεις του γνωστού ηθοποιού, και τις εμπειρίες του, από την δική του σκοπιά. Μπήκα στο πνεύμα μια εποχής και περιόδου που δεν γνώριζα, και πλέον μου είναι πολύ πιο κατανοητή η εξέλιξη του κινηματογράφου. Μου κέντρισε αρκετά το ενδιαφέρον ώστε να αναζητήσω ταινίες του και να δω πως πραγματικά ήταν. Τα στιγμιότυπα από τη ζωή του που μας μεταφέρει είναι πιστεύω με σεβασμό προς τους ανθρώπους Δεν μου ήταν γνωστός σαν προσωπικότητα. Παρ' όλ' αυτά, βρήκα εξαιρετικά ενδιαφέρουσες τις προσωπικές εξομολογήσεις του γνωστού ηθοποιού, και τις εμπειρίες του, από την δική του σκοπιά. Μπήκα στο πνεύμα μια εποχής και περιόδου που δεν γνώριζα, και πλέον μου είναι πολύ πιο κατανοητή η εξέλιξη του κινηματογράφου. Μου κέντρισε αρκετά το ενδιαφέρον ώστε να αναζητήσω ταινίες του και να δω πως πραγματικά ήταν. Τα στιγμιότυπα από τη ζωή του που μας μεταφέρει είναι πιστεύω με σεβασμό προς τους ανθρώπους που τον πλαισίωναν. Εντόπισα τις στιγμές που μετάνιωσε και τις προσωπικές του αποτυχίες, αλλά διέκρινα και τον εγωισμό του, και την ικανότητά του με υπερηφάνια να αναγνωρίζει τα λάθη του. Θα πρότεινα το βιβλίο οπωσδήποτε σε ανθρώπους που ασχολούνται με τον κινηματογράφο, την ηθοποιία και το θέατρο.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Keria Rossin

    More than an autobiography, it is a history of the English stage in the 20th century.. Well written, insightful and sometimes tragic story of his life and marriage to Vivien Leigh.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Surreysmum

    [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 [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 are Vivien Leigh and Peter Finch, with whom she had an affair just before the end of her marriage to Olivier. I must say that Olivier manages to slide rather well over the apparent meanness of divorcing a mentally ill woman on her way to death. He is, in that respect, a persuasive enough writer. But I feel much happier when he is telling cheerful anecdotes about the making of Henry V or rehearsing and improvising in Private Lives.

  11. 4 out of 5

    ReneeS

    Po Fryově místy až nestydaté otevřenosti se mi Olivierův uhlazený styl vypravování zdál falešně skromný. Alespoň první polovinu knihy. Bylo těžké si najít cestu k mladíčkovi, který ač to rozhodně lehké neměl, působí místy vychloubačně a tam kde se mu nedaří teatrálně. S každou další stránkou ale Olivier získával na opravdovosti a v závěru knihy jsem měla pocit, že na mě ze stránek mluví obyčejný člověk, který dokázal neobyčejné věci. Může to být i tím, že poslední část knihy se zabývá něčím, k Po Fryově místy až nestydaté otevřenosti se mi Olivierův uhlazený styl vypravování zdál falešně skromný. Alespoň první polovinu knihy. Bylo těžké si najít cestu k mladíčkovi, který ač to rozhodně lehké neměl, působí místy vychloubačně a tam kde se mu nedaří teatrálně. S každou další stránkou ale Olivier získával na opravdovosti a v závěru knihy jsem měla pocit, že na mě ze stránek mluví obyčejný člověk, který dokázal neobyčejné věci. Může to být i tím, že poslední část knihy se zabývá něčím, k čemu mám blíž a co si už dokážu představit konktétněji. Není to jen záplava neznámých jmen a míst. Je zvláštní číst Olivierovy zmínky o mladých členech souboru - Meggie Smith, Derek Jacobi, Ronald Pickup, když mně se pod těmi jmény vybaví stárnoucí legendy své profese. Není tajemstvím, že miluji divadlo, ale jen jako divák, který vše sleduje z povzdálí. Olivierův životopis pro mě byla smršť informací, které netuším jak zpracovat. Je jich příliš mnoho. Láká mě zjišťovat víc, ale není čas.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nicci

    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 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 legends would have been better. Learnt more about his love of theatre and preference to theatre of films. His love of shakespeare is clear too. Good book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    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.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Anastasia

    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.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    I read this mainly to get Olivier's perspective on Vivien Leigh. It was good though, for being autobiographical.

  16. 4 out of 5

    J. D.

    An entertaining and enlightening view of a great actor's life. I found the self-deprecating humor soothing.

  17. 5 out of 5

    M.C.

    Some extremely minor details clouded the revelations that varied in significance but also revealed the author/actor's great intelligence.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Juanita

    A little bit pedantic, but still interesting.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jessica López-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!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Šárka

    A fascinating and honest review of the great lord acto's life.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Very sweet autobiography that is also insightful about one of the greatest actors ever acting methods.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    This book made Olivier feel like an old friend. I appreciated his emotional honesty and intimacy in the writing.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte Smith

    Stunningly written, witty and thought provoking.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Emma

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rob

  26. 4 out of 5

    Samuel

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jim Bartruff

  28. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Lee

  29. 4 out of 5

    rustbeltbaby

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tim L Floyd

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