With 87 years and About to turn 88, Christopher Plummer got a call to meet Ridley Scott right away in New York: He had nine days to shoot all the scenes for his next film in which he appeared Kevin Spacey, fired for his sex scandals.
It was a night in November 2017, the film was released in December and Plummer had two days to learn the script. He approved the challenge with capital letters, and incidentally earned an Oscar nomination. Then it was joked in Hollywood circles that if you had an actor involved in scandals, just call Plummer.
More than three years after that, the world of cinema mourns the loss of a recognized actor for his theatrical presence and great temper before the cameras that aroused total confidence among the directors. “With his attitude he can polish the mirrors,” critic John Simon once claimed.
Perhaps the best example of his pristine, almost Shakespearean attitude, was his role as the rigid, yet endearing father of the Von Trapp family in the musical ‘Smiles and tears’ (1965), one of the films most loved by the public. The combination of his formality with the tenderness of Julia Andres generated an unforgettable chemistry.
In 1998 the American Film Institute considered ‘Smiles and tears’ the fourth best musical film in history. The funny thing is that Plummer never liked the character. “Horrible, sentimental and corny,” he went on to say of him. But it was his job and he surpassed it with flying colors.
He was born in 1929 in Toronto, Canada, and raised in Quebec to a prominent Canadian family, whose relatives included a former prime minister, a pioneering patent attorney, an artist, and actor Nigel Bruce. Plummer decided explore the artistic side after garnering the attention of local newspapers with a ‘Pride and Prejudice’ feature during his high school years.
Thus began a career on the stage that culminated in his Broadway debut in 1953, where he earned his first Tony nomination, the highest accolade on the theater circuit. “Chris was an extraordinary man who deeply loved and respected his profession with excellent old-fashioned manners, a self-deprecating humor and musicality in his words. He was a national treasure deeply proud of his Canadian roots, “has written Lou Pitt, his friend and manager for nearly 50 years.
Before ‘Smiles and tears’ catapulted his fame on the big screen, Plummer participated in the filming of one of the biggest super-productions of the moment ‘The Fall of the Roman Empire’ (1964), filmed in Spain. Since then, the Canadian has carved out a career in all possible disciplines – film, theater and television – with the surprise that, despite his good reputation, they always called him for supporting roles in films such as ‘The search’, ‘Hidden plan’, ‘The dilemma’, ‘Alexander the Great’ or ‘Daggers in the back’.
His greatest accolades on the big screen came at the end of his career. Since 2009 he has accumulated three Oscar nominations, another three at Golden Globes and two from the Hollywood Screen Actors Guild. He made a treble in 2012 by winning all the awards for ‘Beginners’ when he was 82 years old. Became the longest-lived actor in history who took the stage to collect an Oscar. In the film, he played another of his emblematic personalities, Hal, an elderly widower who, at the end of his days, confesses to his family that he is homosexual and meets his boyfriend.
Some time later he would receive praise for replacing in an impeccable way Kevin Spacey, expelled by accusations of sexual abuse, in ‘All the money in the world’ (2018) under the control of a Ridley Scott who made him repeat all the scenes filmed by Spacey in record time. “We only had nine days to shoot and I had the script two days before filming. So there was not much time for introspection or long discussions“, said then in a meeting attended by the late interpreter Efe.
Plummer died this Friday at a residence in Connecticut (USA) at the age of 91.