cinema archive tv appearances

Laurence Olivier on “Cinema” with Michael Parkinson

Michael Parkinson, one of Britain’s most famous TV broadcasters and journalists, had a chat series called Parkinson that started in 1971. Prior to this, he hosted Cinema on Granada television, in which he interviewed actors about their film careers. His first star interview was with Laurence Olivier in 1969. The interview was conducted in Olivier’s National Theatre office in Aquinas Street.

This is a wonderful discussion that shows how charming and intelligent Larry was. It is interesting to hear him talk about his film career, as we know cinema was not his favorite medium.

Submitted to by Chris.


Kendra has been the weblady at since 2007. She lives in Yorkshire and is the author of Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait, and co-author of Ava Gardner: A Life in Movies (Running Press). Follow her on Twitter @kendrajbean, Instagram at @vivandlarrygram, or at her official website.

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Comments (14)

  1. the interview was filmed at his national theatre office in aquinas street. the offices and rehearsal rooms were nothing more than huts. they were known to leak i believe. i’m sure it was in 1970. he didn’t enjoy making films in the early days but he always stated that directing and producing a film was his favourite occupation, the most creative.

  2. I am not able to view this. When I click on it I get a blank area. What do I need to do in order to view it?

  3. Olivier was a great actor i think and he brought Shakespeare to the masses through his films of Henry V Hamlet and Richard 111. He was one of the first People in the arts to do this. He brought the theatre and the classics to my interest in the early 60’s. He never gave many interviews during his career but the interview with Michael Parkinson is good to watch as a fan of Laurence Olivier. He had such charm i think and his knowledge of acting and film making etc i find very enlightening to listen too. He was such a famous man in his own right but so modest he never seemed big headed and made fun of himself at times. I would have loved to have met him i was and still am such a great admirer, when he died i felt it was the passing of an era regarding the theatrical profession.

  4. Rare interview indeed, although rare is a considerably overused word it is very applicable in this case, impressive that you got it! I think his Othello reached the same fabulous height as his Richard III, my late grandmother never missed an oppurtunity to see him in the fifties and sixites. Too bad I was born some months after his death. Also the first one of the old ‘posh’ boys to climb a further step into the divine ‘kitchen sink’ era. Pleasure to watch and many congratulations on this splendid webpage, a lucky lass you are to do it!

  5. So Olivier did not understand the artistry of Marilyn Monroe.
    He admits he did not know how to handle her. Indeed he had never had to direct and play against someone not in awe of him and above all not dependent of his grace. We see him during the interview make fun of her in such a low and mean manner as if she is the one with shortcomings rather than he himself.
    Dreadful old monster.

    1. . . . .what really infuriated him was when MM stood up Dame Sybil Thorndike, in her 80s. That rudeness enraged him, & rightly so.
      Judi Dench did an excellent job of intimating that, and showing Thorndike’s graciousness to MM, trying to put her at ease.

  6. Sorry, but I’m inclined to agree with Olivier. As director and producer of The Prince and the Showgirl, Olivier had a right to be annoyed when his leading lady failed to remember her lines or show up on set on time (if at all). This was not only his account, but that of everyone who worked on the film. She didn’t have it together at the time. If there’s one thing he didn’t tolerate on his watch it was unprofessionalism.

  7. I agree with admin Olivier must have found it very difficult regarding working with Marilyn, i read Colin Clark’s book about the making of the P

  8. Thanks so much so this most valuable website, Kendra. Olivier is the yardstick for all of us actors. Franco Zeffereli was right when he described Olivier’s Othello as an anthology of everything we know about acting. LO keeps mentioning the production of his THREE SISTERS, which, according to my research, would have been about 1970-1

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