Based on unprecedented access, the definitive biography of Sir Laurence Olivier, the dashing, self-invented Englishman who became the greatest actor of the twentieth century. Olivier met everyone, knew everyone, and played every role in existence. But he was as elusive in life as he was on the stage, a bold and practiced pretender who changed names, altered his identity, and defied characterization. Biographer Coleman draws for the first time on the vast archive of Olivier's private papers and those of his family, uncovering the history and the private self that Olivier worked all his life to obscure. Acting and sex were for him inseparable: through famous romances with Vivien Leigh and Joan Plowright and countless trysts, these relationships entangled with his stage work, each feeding the other and driving Olivier to greater heights. Here is the first comprehensive account of the man whose autobiography, written late in his life, told only a small part of the story.--From publisher description.