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 Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars (1977) trilogy. He earned a best actor Oscar and Golden Globe 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 (1977) (supporting) and Little Dorrit (1988) (supporting). He was awarded Knight Bachelor of the Order of the British Empire in the 1959 Queen's Honours List for his accomplishments in theater and film.