According to the April 21, 1958 edition of "Time Magazine", as an addendum to its cover story on Alec Guinness, in 1957, Laurence Olivier turned down a Hollywood offer of $250,000 for one motion picture. Instead of making the movie and pocketing the dosh (worth approximately $1.7 million in 2005 dollars), Olivier preferred to take on the role of Archie Rice in John Osborne's "The Entertainer" (a role written specifically for him) at the princely sum of £45 per week (worth $126 in 1957 dollars at the contemporaneous exchange rate, or $856 in 2005 dollars).
Part of Laurence Olivier's performance was based on the Music Hall comedian Max Miller a.k.a. "The Cheeky Chappy" ("They'll never be another one like me"). Miller was anything but third rate, having been the highest-paid variety show entertainer of his time at 1,500 pounds per week, plus a percentage of the takings. (Olivier purposely toned down the act because being third rate was part of the story.) Miller never performed in Blackpool however because he believed his humor wouldn't travel to the north.
John Osborne wrote his play "The Entertainer" specifically at the request of Laurence Olivier, who wanted the Angry Young Man of the British theater to create a vehicle for him, one of the figures of the British Establishment that Osborne was rebelling against. Olivier hoped that appearing in the Osborne play would make him relevant to a new generation of theater goers. It proved to be one of Olivier's greatest stage successes (The Colonial Theatre in Boston has a plaque on the outside wall commemorating Olivier's appearance there during the US tour of the play), while the film adapted from the play won him the sixth of his ten acting Academy Award nominations. His performance as Archie Rice, as well as his marriage to his young co-star Joan Plowright, one of the leading actresses of the new wave of British thespians, did keep Olivier contemporary with the new leaders of the British theater. Conversely, Olivier's generational contemporaries, including the actors John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson and the playwright Terence Rattigan, would become to seem stout and old-fashioned as they failed to keep up with the theatrical evolution. (Gielgud would counter with the role of Julian in Edward Albee's obscure "Tiny Alice" on Broadway in 1962, but outside of the classical repertoire, he and Richardson did not recover their cachet as actors in contemporary plays until the mid-1970s, in Harold Pinter's "No Man's Land".) Olivier would help shepherd the new generation of actors, directors and playwrights as the head of the National Theatre in the 1960s and early '70s.
The original Broadway production of "The Entertainer" by John Osborne opened at the Royale Theater in New York on February 12, 1958 and ran for 97 performances. Brenda de Banzie was nominated for the 1958 Tony Award (New York City) for Supporting or Features Actress in a Drama for her role as Phoebe Rice which she recreated in the filmed production.