8 February 2013 9:00 AM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Despite acting rivalries, it's striking how few genuine feuds there have been in the tribe of British actors over the last 100 years

The news that Alec Guinness felt a personal distaste for Laurence Olivier, reported in this morning's papers, didn't exactly come as a bolt from the blue. I recall reading in one theatrical biography that Guinness was deeply offended when, while both men were playing at the Old Vic in 1937, Olivier made caustic enquiries as to what may or may not have happened when Guinness paid a weekend visit to Gielgud's country cottage. The two men, both as actors and as people, were as different as chalk and cheese: Guinness a fastidious miniaturist, Olivier a strange mix of the earthy and the exalted.

Olivier was a king among actors, and, like many Shakespearean monarchs, jealously guarded his throne. That's a polite way of saying that he wasn't always generous to potential rivals. »

- Michael Billington

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