MBTI Type: ISFP
If you watch interviews with Vivian, she is self-contained, and also somewhat shy in public, but fierce about defending her opinions; when a critic is challenging her about being miscast in certain roles and being the only English person present, she defends herself by saying if the actor is good enough, it should not matter where they are from. She fiercely combats and corrects his points, even though she does it with a smile, because she doesn’t care about harmony or middle ground so much as clarifying her points and leaving room for him to disagree, without pretending that she understands his perspective. (He asks her whys he so often gets cast as Southern belles, she replies that twice in twenty years is not “often.” He says he picked up her English accent as Blanche, and it stood out; she says that just means she’ll have to get better at hiding it.) Vivien would dig into her characters and understand them from the inside out, transforming herself into them, and looking for things she identified with in each of them (such as Anna Karenina’s love affair, or Blanche’s descent into mental illness). In the biography about her, Vivian was a very sensitive woman, often feeling torn between her ultimate ambition (to be the greatest actress alive) and the needs and wants of the men around her, such as stifling her creative aspirations when around her first husband, Leigh. She opened up easily to her stepson and made friends with him, but was awkward around her own daughter due to her feelings of guilt for having “abandoned” her to marry Laurence Olivier. She genuinely cared about those around her, and kept meticulous track of their lives—remembering to send flowers and cards of all kinds to commemorate significant events in their life. She cared enormously about appearances, and was over-indulgent in drinking, partying, and purchasing extravagances. Vivian often stayed up until 5 in the morning socializing with her friends and neglecting her sleep, because she loved activities so much. She sometimes miscalculated her own physical abilities and wound up spiraling into meltdowns (assuming she could handle the heat in Cairo and being crippled by it). She had a single-mindedness that others marveled at, and often “knew” before things happened that a part in a film had to be hers. She had a sense she needed to go to America to see her lover, and when she arrived, she happened to get a chance to meet the man who cast her as Scarlett O’Hara, a part she knew she wanted and had championed for, despite being an unknown British actress at the time. She worried more about the threat of WWII than her husband, and had a sense things might go wrong, and thought the Prince of Wales a fool for having met Hitler. She was extremely well read, spent much of her time in intellectual pursuits (reading everything she could get her hands on and discussing it, from Dickens novels to biographies), and had to execute “perfectly planned” dinner parties. When married to Laurence, she abandoned movies for the stage because he preferred the stage, she took on jobs she didn’t wanted because he needed the revenue to back up his theater enterprises, she exhausted herself in performances to be around him and maintain his high levels of output, and even admitted to the press that because he asked her for a divorce to marry another woman, she would do it. Vivien was hard-working and self-disciplined, keeping to a tight schedule and putting aside her feelings to adapt to whatever a performance required of her most of the time. She continued working on the stage despite severe depression, since she could put on a happy face that didn’t match her inner turmoil. Vivien had an inability to question anything about the people she held in her heart. She blamed Joan Plowright for taking her husband away from her, because she could not bear to think ill of him or hold him responsible. She also found it hard to accept when she wasn’t appropriate for a role, just because she wanted it, showing her inability to detached about the suitability of the age of someone portraying a part.
Enneagram: 4w3 so/sx
Vivien is a good example of a sp-blind, in how often socialized and worked herself into exhaustion, neglecting her physical health and well being in order to remain attached to other people. Her biographer says she was often up until the early hours of the morning, because she didn’t want to go to bed and miss out on companionship. so/sx users are incredibly tied to people and co-dependent, which she shows in all of her relationship dynamics. If you watch interviews with her, she comes across as a sensitive, broken heart type. One male critic says she gives the impression of being fragile and needing men to take care of her (which Vivian finds insulting and rebuffs, because it doesn’t fit her internal image). She is a strange blend of quiet assertiveness and withdrawn energy; in her Oscars speech and elsewhere, she says one must not be too sure of themselves (a subtle indication that she thinks of herself as fragile or special), and that she does not necessarily want to be here, but she does it regardless. When her performance is criticized, her 3 wing response is that next time she must “try harder.” She also shows disintegration into unhealthy 2 behaviors in her complex relationship with Laurence Olivier. She was hard-working, single-minded, and dedicated, obsessed with achieving comparable theater acting skill levels to her husband at the time (Olivier). Vivien took on projects not right for her, or that exhausted her physically, just to please him and be around him. She could be possessive of him, especially as she saw him slipping away toward other women late in their marriage. On occasion, she would lash out at him or other people, but this happened very rarely and was tied to a manic bipolar episode. Vivien admitted to others her only concern in life was to feel loved. She immediately latched onto those who seemed to love her, such as Laurence, and tried to become whatever would please him the most. She spent a lot of her time thinking about how to maintain his love, while feeling insecure about it. In her youth at Catholic school, she would give away expensive presents from home to the other girls, earning their admiration and making her widely liked (“You like that?” she would ask with her Cheshire cat smile. “Keep it!”). She spent a lot of money sending cards, gifts, and mementos to her coworkers and friends, sometimes taking four hours at a time to write personal letters to people to maintain their communication. The more insecure she felt, the more she leaned into her 3 wing and tried desperately to become whatever she thought would appeal to others the most.