Laurence Olivier (1907-1989) is widely considered to be one of the most iconic actors of the twentieth century, dominating the British stage and appearing in over fifty films.
His great-great-grandfather was of French Huguenot descent and, in fact, Olivier came from a long line of Protestant clergymen; his father was ordained a Reverend in the Church of England. Olivier supposedly imitated the forceful sermons he saw his father give while his mother steered him towards dramatic speeches from plays.
Olivier, encouraged by his parents, acted in school productions and embarked on a career on stage and behind the scenes. He played a variety of Shakespearean roles and was made the first Artistic Director of the National Theatre in 1970. His film roles include Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights (1939) and Maxim de Winter in Rebecca (1940). Olivier won two Academy Awards, three BAFTAS and was the first actor to be made a Lord.