Dame Maggie Smith recalls being hit by Laurence Olivier

Dame Maggie Smith has recalled being accidentally hit by Laurence Olivier while the pair starred in Othello.

The veteran actress jokingly recounted being struck by Olivier, who became the husband of her great friend Dame Joan Plowright.

She spoke to her fellow actresses Dame Joan, Dame Judi Dench and Dame Eileen Atkins for the BBC Two programme Nothing Like A Dame.

Dame Maggie revealed to her fellow Shakespeareans that Olivier clipped her across the face during  a performance.

She said: “He did knock me out.  He hit me, ‘out devil’, and left black marks on my face.

Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh (PA)
Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh (PA)

“But I did say it was the only time I saw stars at the national theatre.”

The Dame also said that acting in films never became an easy task, and nerves were always something to contend with.

She said: “All days are scary. I don’t know why people assume it is otherwise. It is just scary, and it is every day.

“Filming is very scary because there are so many people involved. Everybody waiting with baited breath.

“If you get it wrong there’s a lot of looking at each other, and the eyes roll.”