Laurence Olivier's Greatest Role

Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh

"Olivier spent his last 30 years as a workaholic, reproducing the same rigorous performance schedule that had characterized his rise to fame. He worked so intensely, and for so long, that many interpreted it as a means of making penance for his behavior toward Leigh. Still, there are dozens of plays, movies, roles, and dalliances this piece hasn’t even touched. I could spend another 4,500 words of your time simply describing his 1960s career, the influence of his filmic Shakespeare, or the dozens of accounts, some more substantial than others, that he was bisexual. But for all of his genius, all of his work in sustaining and rejuvenating the theater before, during, and after World War II, his passion for Leigh — and hers in return — remains his defining feature." [The Hairpin]