On Acting, Signed by Laurence Olivier
[Signed by Laurence Olivier] Olivier, Laurence. On Acting. First English Edition. 1986. Book and dust jacket are both in very good condition. Book is warmly inscribed, “For David, Happy Birthday to you/From your twin, ... well, just a figure of speech/ don’t you know? Laurence Olivier.”
The great Hollywood film stars had over-the-top, idiosyncratic personalities, and they nearly always play versions of themselves (well, the public versions of themselves). It is the opposite for the great stars of the stage, particularly in the United Kingdom. They become the characters, instead of the characters becoming them. There is one Hollywood superstar equally at home in both worlds: Laurence Olivier. For this he credits two Williams—Stratford-upon-Avon’s William Shakespeare and Hollywood’s William Wyler (the great Golden Age director). From the first William, Olivier honed his talent, and from latter, how to modify that talent for the screen. This was Olivier’ second book. His first, Confessions of an Actor, was typical memoir. This follow-up is somewhat biographical, but its focus on craftmanship. It is arranged by role—beginning with Oliver’s breakthrough stage performances (Henry V, Hamlet, Richard III, King Lear) and continuing with his film and television roles in Rebecca, Wuthering Heights, etc. It is a lavishly produced book with b & w photographs interspersed throughout. It would make an excellent gift to an aspiring (or accomplished) actor.
“Rhythm and timing are needed to create effects which also must appear to be spontaneous; it is the seeming absolute spontaneity of reaction which makes the audience feel the moment of recognition, of new understanding.”