Biography Film Stage Television Voiceover  
 
Oliver Tobias - a Biography
       
  Birth Name Oliver Tobias Freitag
  Date of Birth 6. August 1947
  Place of Birth Zurich, Switzerland
  Height 5'11 or 1.81 m
  Colour of Eyes Blue
  Colour of Hair Dark Brown
  Parents Maria Becker, actress
Robert Freitag, actor
     
  Languages English, German
       

As long as you live, keep learning how to live.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Don't take yourself too seriously!
Tobias Oliver

             
             

 

 

I became an actor because of circumstance.  
             
  From his early years in Switzerland where he was born in 1947 in a village called Leimbach by Zurich to standing on stage in London’s Royal Opera House Covent Garden his life has been out of the ordinary.  
     
    I loved the little village in Switzerland where I spent my early youth. Not for long, sadly. Zurich, Munich, Hamburg. I played in the bombed out ruins of Hamburg and Munich as a child, history. I changed schools eight times before I finally ended up in England...The victors who had paid a heavy price. My parents were Anglophiles.
             
    Son of the legendary actress Maria Becker and actor director Robert Freitag (Swiss), his schooling started in a Swiss village Kindergarten in Leimbach (ZH) and by the time he was sent to boarding school in England in 1958 had included different schools in Zurich, in Hamburg and in Munich, because of his mothers work commitments.  
             
 

The first role I played was at boarding school in England in the early sixties: Edmund the Bastard in King Lear:

Enter Edmund with a letter

Edmund :
“Thou nature art my goddess; to thy law
My services are bound. Wherefore should I
Stand in the plague of custom and permit
The curiosity of nations to deprive me.”

etc.

After leaving school I played base guitar for Champion Jack Dupre at the Africana in Zurich.
Then lead singer in the Rock –Blues Band.“Barracudas” and then “Why Not”
.

 
             
   

In 1966 he started drama school at East 15 Acting School London, an off-spring of Joan Littlewoods Theatre Workshop.

At the same time during his holidays he studied dance at the “Ecole de Dance” in Zurich.

 
             
Poets, musicians, painters, dancers, actors, writers, composers and philosophers are the ones that keep the world sane, and faith.
             
  I decided to become an actor because of the circumstances, in which I found myself at the time. It seemed the best option. However, three years of training stood before me. Only then did I venture out to join the professionals!    
             
 

Oliver’s big break was the lead role of Berger in The Musical Hair when it first opened at The Shaftsbury Theatre in London’s West End in 1968 forty years ago!

After huge acclaim from being in Hair his first feature film Romance of a Horsethief starred such well known names as Yul Brynner, Serge Gainbourg and Jane Birkin. This was followed in 1971 by the classic film Tis Pity She’s a Whore in which he co-starred with Charlotte Rampling as well as being the star of the International Series Arthur of The Britons in which he starred as King Arthur.

Another series then followed in Australia directed by Peter Weir: Luke’s Kingdom in which he played the starring role.

He was then cast in such films as Dick TurpinArabian Adventure with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.”The Wicked Lady with Faye Dunaway, Sir John Gielgud and Alan Bates and the popular TV series Smuggler and Adventurer. The smash hit film The Stud in which he co-starred with Joan Collins is another one.

             

When I remind myself of the roles I have played and any particular one; I can vividly recollect a lot of what took place at the time not just on set or on stage but the life that went on surrounding the work.

I wouldn’t call it a white-knuckle-ride but certainly a bumpy one. You make your own luck...

1968: Berger in Hair was my first professional role. I brought to that exactly what I was. I just stepped out and played . What we put across was not just entertainment but valuable.

Then Arthur of the Britons: Right is might! Not might is Right! It's like another life I had lived a long time ago. The years as a swashbuckler were certainly enjoyable...Took me around the world as far away as New Zealand.

 
             
   
His life has taken him to 28 different countries around the world with his work.

 
             
 

After a performance of Bassa Selim in Mozarts’ Entfuehrung aus dem Serail at Royal Opera House Covent Garden I had dinner with my erstwhile agent Dennis Selinger. He said to me he had never known anybody in the business to play such a variety of roles in musicals, theatre, television, film and opera. He reckoned this was unique.

Most performers repeat themselves throughout their careers, the same easily recognisable identity and are very succesful. Thats ok, safe and boring. I only repeated The Pirate King and Bassa Selim.

A play I really enjoyed was Oscar Wildes’ A Woman of No Importance where I took the part of Lord Illingworth:

“Women are pictures. Men are problems. If you want to know what a woman really means.

Which by the way is always a dangerous thing to do, look at her don’t listen to her.”


They wanted me to make another movie with Joan Collins after the success of The Stud. I had started training with the sword master Alf Joint, at Pinewood Studios, for the movie Arabian Adventure; leaving that prospect behind me!

             

„My brother also directs and what I like most about him doing it, is that he gets the people on stage to talk. They really TALK with each other, instead of just delivering their lines.”

Benedict Freitag, August 2010

   
             
   

By the time I started to direct I had had enough experience working with some great directors...As an actor you are a colour in the painting , I wished to be the painter. The ideas just seem to come to me naturally and I comprehend actors.

One of the highlights was Ritter von Miracle by Lopez de Vega which was produced in the castle of Berlechingen in Germany. My brother Benedict played the leading role of Luzman brilliantly. It was sensational success!

I am the father of two daughters; Angelika and Celeste; and two sons. Luke and Felix. My wife Arabella and I are currently raising these boys.

Currently I'm slowly bringing my Autobiography to paper.

I go for burn ups on my motor bike.

 

 
     
Copyright Oliver Tobias, 4. February 2011