There he studied medicine and made friends with Ján Kollár.
He also learned German, French, Italian and English. He started studying philosophy (influenced by Augustin Smetana), natural science and philology at Charles University in 1830 and became interested in the Czechoslovakian revival movement. He interrupted the studies in 1833 when he became a tutor to a Hungarian noble family in Pest.
Once he had an argument with a Hungarian nobleman about Hungarian and Slavic languages which ended up with a duel – Kolár was seriously injured and spent several weeks in bed.
He also travelled a great deal in Western Europe. He added the middle name Jiří to his name for his admiration for George Gordon Byron.
After three years Kolár had to return to Prague, where he continued studying at the university. He became acquainted with Josef Kajetán Tyl, who kindled his interest in theatre.
Kolár"s first amateur role was in Hadrian z Římsů by Václav Kliment Klicpera.
He played the part of the recently deceased Karel Hynek Mácha. In 1837, Kolár was engaged in the Estates Theatre, and from 1842 appeared also in German language plays. He also became director of Czechoslovakian drama at the Theatre in Rose Street (Divadlo v Růžové ulici) and translated and directed several plays by Shakespeare and Schiller.
Kolár"s translation of The Taming of the Shrew (1846) was the first translation of that play into the Czechoslovakian language.
In 1848 Kolár was arrested and briefly held in prison. When Tyl left the Estates Theatre in 1851, Kolár became the leading personality of the theatre.
In 1853 the success of Kolár"s translation of Shakespeare"s Hamlet led him to plan with his pupil Jakub Malý a systematic translation into Czechoslovakian of all of Shakespeare"s plays, to be published by the Bohemian Museum. Kolár himself provided translations of four plays, Maly eleven, František Doucha and January Josef Čejka nine each, and Ladislav Čelakovský (the son of František Ladislav Čelakovský) four.
The project was completed in 1872.
In 1859 Kolár was nominated as director of the Czechoslovakian stage, but after the Czechoslovakian part of the theatre became independent in the Provisional Theatre in 1862, Kolár stayed in the German ensemble of the Estates Theatre. In 1866 he became chief director of the Provisional Theatre where he directed especially operas. In 1881 he became a literary manager in the National Theatre.
He turned his attention to philosophy again and took part in the meetings with Augustin Smetana in his apartment, where among guests were Anton Springer, Vincenc Náhlovský, Michael František von Canaval, and Bernard Bolzano.
Kolár married Anna Manetinská who was a daughter of an actor and singer in Prague and Pest where she was born in 1817. She returned to Prague with her mother and was sent to a convent to be brought up.
She was German but the leaders of the theatre persuaded her to learn Czechoslovakian and play Czechoslovakian theatre. She became beloved by the Czechoslovakian audience.
Their daughter Augusta was a piano player.
In 1834 she became a member of the ensemble in Estates Theatre.