Alec Guinness

Alec Guinness de Cuffe was born on April 2, 1914 in Marylebone, London, England, and was raised by his mother, Agnes Cuffe. While working in advertising, he studied at the Fay Compton Studio of Dramatic Art, debuting on stage in 1934 and played classic theater with the Old Vic from 1936. In 1941,...

Born on April 02, 1914

Marylebone, London, England, UK

Height 1.78m / 5' 10"

Biography

Alec Guinness de Cuffe was born on April 2, 1914 in Marylebone, London, England, and was raised by his mother, Agnes Cuffe. While working in advertising, he studied at the Fay Compton Studio of Dramatic Art, debuting on stage in 1934 and played classic theater with the Old Vic from 1936. In 1941, he entered the Royal Navy as a seaman and was commissioned the next year. Beyond an extra part in Evensong (1934), his film career began after World War II with his portrayal of Herbert Pocket in Great Expectations (1946). A string of films, mostly comedies, showed off his ability to look different in every role, eight of them, including a woman, in one movie alone, Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949). His best known recent work was as the Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) and its sequels. He earned a Best Actor Oscar and Golden Globe Award in The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) and an Honorary Academy Award (1980) for "advancing the art of screen acting through a host of memorable and distinguished performances". Academy nominations have included The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) (actor); The Horse's Mouth (1958) (screenplay); Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) (supporting) and Little Dorrit (1987) (supporting). He was awarded Knight Bachelor of the Order of the British Empire in the 1959 Queen's Honours List for his services to drama. Sir Alec Guinness died at age 86 of liver cancer on August 5, 2000.Read More

Known For

TradeMarks

Known for playing multiple complex characters and changing his appearance to suit.

Deep smooth voice

Often worked with David Lean and Ronald Neame

Often played noble and fiercely proud leaders and authority figures

Trivia

Reportedly hated working on Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) so much, Guinness claims that Obi-Wan's death was his idea as a means to limit his involvement in the film. Guinness also claims to throw away all Star Wars related fan mail without even opening it.

He was voted third in the Orange Film 2001 survey of greatest British film actors.

Despite popular belief, he never uttered the line "May the force be with you" in any of the Star Wars films (the closest he came was "the force will be with you").

He was a huge fan of the television series Due South (1994).

He was awarded Knight Bachelor in the 1959 Queen's New Year Honours List for his services to drama.

He was awarded the CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1955 Queen's Birthday Honours List for his services to drama.

He was awarded the Companion of Honour in the 1994 Queen's Birthday Honours List for his services to drama.

"de Cuffe" is his mother's surname; he never knew the identity of his father (source: obituary, Daily Telegraph, 7 August 2000).

He was one of the last surviving members of a great generation of British actors, which included Sir Laurence Olivier, Sir John Gielgud and Sir Ralph Richardson.

Father of actor Matthew Guinness and grandfather of Sally Guinness.

Quotes

[on how much he disliked working on Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) and his attempts to encourage George Lucas to kill off Obi-Wan Kenobi] And he agreed with me. What I didn't tell him was that I just couldn't go on speaking those bloody awful, banal lines. I'd had enough of the mumbo jumbo.

Once I've done a film, it's finished. I never look at it again.

I don't know what else I could do but pretend to be an actor.

I prefer full-length camera shots because the body can act better than the face.

I gave my best performances during the war, trying to be an officer and a gentleman.

[replying to a writer whose script he rejected, who sent him a note saying "We tailored it just for you"] But no one came to take measurements.

[in 1985 to The Guardian newspaper, on what he intends to do by the end of his life] A kind of little bow, tied on life. And I can see myself drifting off into eternity, or nothing, or whatever it may be, with all sorts of bits of loose string hanging out of my pocket. Why didn't I say this or do that, or why didn't I reconcile myself with someone? Or make sure that someone whom I like was all right in every way, either financially or, I don't know...

We live in an age of apologies. Apologies, false or true, are expected from the descendants of empire builders, slave owners, persecutors of heretics and from men who, in our eyes, just got it all wrong. So with the age of 85 coming up shortly, I want to make an apology. It appears I must apologize for being male, white and European.

Failure has a thousand explanations. Success doesn't need one.

I shrivel up every time someone mentions Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) to me.

Spouses

Merula Salaman Merula Salaman June 20, 1938 - August 05, 2000 (his death) (1 child)

Salaries

Kind Hearts and Coronets  Kind Hearts and Coronets  £ 6,000
Little Dorrit  Little Dorrit  £ 180,000
Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope  Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope  $ 150,000 + 2 1/4% of profits
The Lavender Hill Mob  The Lavender Hill Mob  £ 6,000

Filmography

The Ed Sullivan Show The Ed Sullivan Show Himself-Guest(1episode,1964)
Kind Hearts and Coronets  Kind Hearts and Coronets  TheD'AscoyneFamily:TheDuke/TheBanker/TheParson/TheGeneral/TheAdmiral/YoungAscoyne/YoungHenry/LadyAgatha
The Lavender Hill Mob  The Lavender Hill Mob  Holland
The Promoter  The Promoter  EdwardHenry'Denry'Machin
Malta Story  Malta Story  FlightLt.PeterRoss
The Square Mile  The Square Mile  Narrator(voice)
The Stratford Adventure  The Stratford Adventure  Himself
Rowlandson's England  Rowlandson's England  Narrator
To Paris with Love  To Paris with Love  Col.SirEdgarFraser
Startime Startime JebalDeeks(1episode,1959)
Lawrence of Arabia  Lawrence of Arabia  PrinceFeisal
Situation Hopeless... But Not Serious  Situation Hopeless... But Not Serious  WilhelmFrick
The Quiller Memorandum  The Quiller Memorandum  Pol
The Comedians in Africa  The Comedians in Africa  Himself(uncredited)
Haiti - wyspa przekleta  Haiti - wyspa przekleta  MajorH.O.Jones
Conversation at Night Conversation at Night TheExecutioner
Cromwell  Cromwell  KingCharles'Stuart'I
A Selection from E.E. Cummings A Selection from E.E. Cummings Himself-Reader
Scrooge  Scrooge  JacobMarley'sGhost
The Gift of Friendship  The Gift of Friendship  JocelynBroome
Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope  Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope  BenObi-WanKenobi
To See Such Fun  To See Such Fun  Himself(archivefootage)
The South Bank Show The South Bank Show Himself(3episodes,1985-2010)
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy GeorgeSmiley(7episodes,1979)
Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back  Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back  Ben(Obi-Wan)Kenobi
Little Lord Fauntleroy  Little Lord Fauntleroy  EarlofDorincourt
Raise the Titanic  Raise the Titanic  JohnBigalow
Late Night with David Letterman Late Night with David Letterman Himself-Guest(1episode,1986)
Smiley's People Smiley's People GeorgeSmiley(6episodes,1982)
Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi  Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi  Ben'Obi-Wan'Kenobi
Monsignor Quixote Monsignor Quixote FatherQuixote
Little Dorrit  Little Dorrit  WilliamDorrit
Kafka  Kafka  TheChiefClerk
Tales from Hollywood Tales from Hollywood HeinrichMann
A Foreign Field A Foreign Field Amos
Mute Witness  Mute Witness  TheReaper(asMysteryGuestStar)
Great Performances Great Performances FatherQuixote(1episode,1987)
Parkinson Parkinson Himself-Guest(1episode,1977)
Film 2016 Film 2016 Himself-Guest(2episodes,1987-2015)
The Star Wars Holiday Special  The Star Wars Holiday Special  Ben(Obi-Wan)Kenobi(archivefootage)(uncredited)
Arena Arena Himself(3episodes,1976-2003)
Omnibus Omnibus Himself(2episodes,1983-1994)
Thirty-Minute Theatre Thirty-Minute Theatre TheExecutioner(1episode,1969)
The Morecambe & Wise Show The Morecambe & Wise Show Himself/...(1episode,1980)
Lionpower from MGM  Lionpower from MGM  MajorH.O.Jones(archivefootage)(uncredited)
The 73rd Annual Academy Awards  The 73rd Annual Academy Awards  Himself(MemorialTribute)(archivefootage)
The Making of 'Star Wars'  The Making of 'Star Wars'  Himself
ITV Sunday Night Theatre ITV Sunday Night Theatre Malvolio(1episode,1970)
Screen One Screen One Amos(1episode,1993)
Performance Performance HeinrichMann(1episode,1992)
R2-D2: Beneath the Dome  R2-D2: Beneath the Dome  Himself(archivefootage)(uncredited)
The 61st Annual Academy Awards  The 61st Annual Academy Awards  WilliamDorrit(archivefootage)
'Doctor Zhivago': The Making of a Russian Epic  'Doctor Zhivago': The Making of a Russian Epic  Himself(archivefootage)
Empire of Dreams: The Story of the 'Star Wars' Trilogy  Empire of Dreams: The Story of the 'Star Wars' Trilogy  Himself/Obi-WanKenobi(archivefootage)
The Golden Gong  The Golden Gong  (archivefootage)
Boffo! Tinseltown's Bombs and Blockbusters  Boffo! Tinseltown's Bombs and Blockbusters  Col.Nicholson(archivefootage)(uncredited)
Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy  Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy  Obi-WanKenobi(archivesound)(uncredited)
Magnificent Movies Magnificent Movies Obi-WanKenobi(archivefootage)
Flushing Out the Mole Flushing Out the Mole GeorgeSmiley
Smiley Sets a Trap Smiley Sets a Trap GeorgeSmiley
Smiley Tracks the Mole Smiley Tracks the Mole GeorgeSmiley
Tarr Tells His Story Tarr Tells His Story GeorgeSmiley
Tinker Tailor Tinker Tailor GeorgeSmiley
Eye on New York Eye on New York Herself(1episode,1964)
Episode #1.4 Episode #1.4 GeorgeSmiley
Sauce, Satire and Silliness: The Story of British Comedy Sauce, Satire and Silliness: The Story of British Comedy Himself(archivefootage)
Our All Time Favourite Films Our All Time Favourite Films BenObi-WanKenobi(archivefootage)
George Lucas George Lucas Obi-WanKenobi(archivefootage)
Star Wars: The Force Awakens  Star Wars: The Force Awakens  Obi-WanKenobi(voice)(archivefootage)(uncredited)
The Ancient Astronaut Cover-Up The Ancient Astronaut Cover-Up BenObi-WanKenobi(archivefootage)
The Rise and Fall of a Jungle Giant  The Rise and Fall of a Jungle Giant  Himself
Episodio 100: Especial Star Wars Episodio 100: Especial Star Wars BenObi-WanKenobi(archivefootage)
Episodio 100: Especial Star Wars Episodio 100: Especial Star Wars
Man and Machines Man and Machines (archivefootage)
1983 1983 Himself(archivefootage)(uncredited)
Special interview footage with John le Carré and John Irvin  Special interview footage with John le Carré and John Irvin  GeorgeSmiley(archivefootage)
Episode IV: Crew and Cast Interviews  Episode IV: Crew and Cast Interviews  Himself
The Second Annual West End Theatre Awards  The Second Annual West End Theatre Awards  Himself-Presenter
The Old Vic The Old Vic Himself
The London Standard Film Awards  The London Standard Film Awards  Himself
The 18th Annual Tony Awards  The 18th Annual Tony Awards  Himself-Winner:BestPerformancebyaLeadingActorinaPlay
Tuesday's Documentary Tuesday's Documentary Himself(1episode,1970)
Special Collector's Edition Special Collector's Edition
Farewell to the Vic  Farewell to the Vic  Himself
Little Gidding Little Gidding Himself-Reader
Solo Solo Himself-Reader(2episodes,1970)
Sidney James Sidney James (archivefootage)
Alastair Sim Alastair Sim (archivefootage)(asSirAlecGuinness)
2009 Awards 2009 Awards Himself(archivefootage)
Q.E.D. Q.E.D. Himself-Narrator(1episode,1994)
Episode #1.6 Episode #1.6 GeorgeSmiley
Episode #1.5 Episode #1.5 GeorgeSmiley
Hitler: The Comedy Years  Hitler: The Comedy Years  AdolfHitler(archivefootage)(uncredited)
Episode #3.7 Episode #3.7 Himself-Setof"TheBridgeontheRiverKwai"
Sir Alec Guinness Sir Alec Guinness Himself
David Lean: A Life in Film David Lean: A Life in Film Himself
Episode dated 26 September 1986 Episode dated 26 September 1986 Himself-Guest
Les livres du mois (Janvier 1986) Les livres du mois (Janvier 1986) Himself
Science of Star Wars Science of Star Wars (archivefootage)(3episodes,2005)
Star Wars: Battlefront  Star Wars: Battlefront  BenObi-Wan(archivefootage)
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