christopherplummer.eu

Christopher Plummer website



Christopher Plummer quotes


For his performance in The Last Station he received a personal Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor at the 2010 Oscars.

“Well, I said it’s about time! I mean, I’m 80 years old for God’s sake. Have mercy.”


He is busier than ever before, and puts this down to the fact that:

“There’s not that many old actors. They all died. I’m one of the last men standing! I think there’s maybe four of us. I hope the other b…….s die first”

   

In 2008 he finished writing his memoirs for his riotous autobiography ‘In Spite of Myself’. 

“I wanted people to know how one develops through working with other extraordinary actors and actresses, what one learns.”


To sum up his life as an actor, Plummer says:

 “I love my profession. It keeps me young. It’s my hobby as well as my profession…………It’s a great profession if you’re lucky at it. I’ve had a wonderful life, seen the world and they’ve paid for it!”


Quotes about the Marriage of Christopher Plummer and Elaine Taylor:

Victor Davis: "So, thanks to Elaine, his sweet-natured wife of 40 years, it seems Plummer's blood is slower to boil these days."




     





More Christopher Plummer Quotes:

 

“I’ve been very fortunate…it’s just been an amazing piece of luck. I haven’t had to suffer for my art but I’ve suffered enough inside to hopefully be called an artist.” – Christopher Plummer


Here is Mike Wallace, who is visible to the public, and I have been watching him since the early '50s. Smoking up a storm and insulting his guests and being absolutely wonderfully evil and charming too.


I want to paint Montreal as a rather fantastic city, which it was, because nobody knows today what it was like. And I'm one of the last survivors, or rapidly becoming one.

 

I would rather not know about how one gets parts in movies these days.

 

I'm too old-fashioned to use a computer. I'm too old-fashioned to use a quill.

 

In Stratford you either turn into an alcoholic or you better write.

 

It is a culture voice, but it is a very American culture voice, and I am very used to English culture voice. So I had to work like hell to flatten those R's.

 

Most of my life I have played a lot of famous people but most of them were dead so you have a poetic license.

 

The first time my father saw me in the flesh was on the stage, which is a bit weird. We went out to dinner, and he was charming and sweet, but I did all the talking.

 

The part of Mike Wallace drew me to the movie because I thought, what an outrageous part to play.

 

They realized I was alive again, even though I was playing an old, dying sop.

 

Working with Julie Andrews is like getting hit over the head with a valentine.

 

I`m bored with questions about acting.

 

Unless you can surround yourself with as many beautiful things as you can afford, I don`t think life has very much meaning.

 

(why he prefers playing evil characters) "The devil is more interesting than God."

 

A lot of great people have seen people portray them and loathed them. But I did my best and I don`t think there is anything to be offended at.

 

  

More . . . Christopher Plummer quotes:

 

The Insider was a hot movie and an important movie and it was upgraded from the movies I had been doing," Plummer says. "You see, I loved the theater and I stayed in the theater most of my life and I was a bit snobbish about it. I made a lot of movies through the '60s and '70s which were pretty awful, but then most of the movies in the '60s and early '70s were pretty awful. The quality wasn't always there, unfortunately, but the money was. And I was grateful for that because I could afford to then do what I wanted to do in the theater. 

    Christopher Plummer - Robert Siegel interview for All Things Considered (3 June 2011)

  

 Drinking was particularly fun and fashionable in the '50s. Drugs started to creep in and do their rather remote work in the late '60s and '70s. And then in the '80s and '90s everyone started to get terribly serious — drinking water all the time — or taking drugs. Poor old booze took a back seat. 

    Christopher Plummer - Boston Globe interview (31 January 2010)

 

I adored the part [Hal in Beginners] and I thought it was so well written and so unsentimental and brave and witty and free. Totally free," Plummer says. "Of course he was so relieved to be able to come out of the closet in such a happy way because he was so fond of his latest boyfriend. I just adored the way it was tackled. It was tackled with such humanity and sweetness and fun. 

    Christopher Plummer - Robert Siegel interview for All Things Considered (3 June 2011)

  

 I couldn't believe when I first got a fan letter from Al Pacino, it was unreal. 

    Christopher Plummer

  

 I happened to be sort of leading man-looking. And then finally I was dissipated enough in my 40s to look like a character actor and that's when everything began to change. And I enjoyed being a character actor because of course the roles were so much more interesting. It started with John Huston's film The Man Who Would Be King, which is a very good film, and certainly after The Insider. And now I'm getting nice lovely scripts like Beginners. 

    Christopher Plummer - Robert Siegel interview for All Things Considered (3 June 2011)

  

 I love what I'm doing on the screen, particularly now. The roles are getting richer and more interesting as I grow older — I'm very lucky. Or maybe there's nobody left, at my age. I have no competition anymore because I am the oldest man on earth. 

    Christopher Plummer - Boston Globe interview (31 January 2010)

  

 I loved the script because I thought it made Tolstoy — who I always thought was rather dry — seem full of humanity and humor. 

    Christopher Plummer - Boston Globe interview (31 January 2010)

  

 I made my mark in the theater, in the mid-'50s. And I continued to try and keep that standard going for the rest of my life. And I hope I have. Films are another matter. The theater is our medium, and the writers. Screen is the medium of a committee, largely so I'm not responsible for how things ended up. 

    Christopher Plummer - Dark Horizons interview (28 December 2009)

  

 I was a bit bored with the character [Captain Georg von Trapp]. Although we worked hard enough to make him interesting, it was a bit like flogging a dead horse. And the subject matter is not mine. I mean, it can't appeal to every person in the world. 

    Christopher Plummer - Boston Globe interview (31 January 2010)

  

 I would rather not know about how one gets parts in movies these days. 

    Christopher Plummer

  

 I'm bored with questions about acting. 

    Christopher Plummer

  

 I'm glad to see [drinking is] coming back these days, particularly in the young — at least they've got good taste. Because I could never connect with my friends who were on drugs. They were in a totally gaga world, but at least booze — you could be violent, you could be funny, you could tell stories. It was a much more gregarious form of anathematizement. 

    Christopher Plummer - Boston Globe interview (31 January 2010)

  

 I'm in good shape. I could play 60 with ease. 

    Christopher Plummer - Robert Siegel interview for All Things Considered (3 June 2011)

  

 I'm too old-fashioned to use a computer. I'm too old-fashioned to use a quill. 

    Christopher Plummer

  

 I've been very fortunate — it's just been an amazing piece of luck. I haven't had to suffer for my art but I've suffered enough inside to hopefully be called an artist. 

    Christopher Plummer

  

In my book I call [The Sound of Music] 'S&M'. An abbreviated version. But I'm grateful for it because it certainly was famous and put me in the public eye and I could help fill a theater when I was doing the great works. 

    Christopher Plummer - Robert Siegel interview for All Things Considered (3 June 2011)


In Stratford you either turn into an alcoholic or you better write. 

    Christopher Plummer

  

 Most of my life I have played a lot of famous people but most of them were dead so you have a poetic license. 

    Christopher Plummer

  

 Oh, [acting is] the most fascinating job. I mean, it's a vocation, a hobby, a job. It's everything to me. I won't go as far as saying it's a religion but I think it's more fun than religion. It's — romance, and escape. And I've been escaping all my life. I love it. 

    Christopher Plummer - Dark Horizons interview (28 December 2009)

  

 The devil is more interesting than God. 

    Christopher Plummer

  

 The drama critic for The Montreal Gazette gave me a good review in a high-school production of Pride and Prejudice. It went to my head. 

    Christopher Plummer

  

 The first time my father saw me in the flesh was on the stage, which is a bit weird. We went out to dinner, and he was charming and sweet, but I did all the talking. 

    Christopher Plummer

  

 The part of Mike Wallace drew me to the movie because I thought, what an outrageous part to play. 

    Christopher Plummer


There were so many nuns around [the The Sound of Music set], I was determined to play Peck's Bad Boy and be the naughty fellow. Well it needed somebody naughty to keep it away from mawkish sentimentality. 

    Christopher Plummer - Robert Siegel interview for All Things Considered (3 June 2011)

  

 There's a whole new generation every year, poor kids, that have to sit through [The Sound of Music]. But It was a very well-made movie, and it's a family movie and we haven't seen a family movie, I don't think, on that scale for ages. I don't mind that. It just happened to be not my particular cup of tea. 

    Christopher Plummer - Dark Horizons interview (28 December 2009)

  

 These young actors are not trained enough. They jump into television and want to be stars without doing any work. And they do become stars, but will it last? 

    Christopher Plummer - Boston Globe interview (31 January 2010)

  

 Too many people in the world are unhappy with their lot. And then they retire and they become vegetables. I think retirement in any profession is death, so I'm determined to keep crackin'. 

    Christopher Plummer

  

 Unless you can surround yourself with as many beautiful things as you can afford, I don't think life has very much meaning. 

    Christopher Plummer

  

 Well, I said it's about time! I mean, I'm 80 years old, for God's sake. Have mercy. 

    Christopher Plummer - on his first Oscar nomination, to CBC (7 March 2010)

  

 When I went to see [Up], I thought, 'My god, what an absolutely marvelous movie this is. I mean it really is human. It really has everything in it. And that's the sort of thing that surprises you and that's the pleasant one when you can't dream of what it's going to look like and there it is, much more thrilling than you ever dreamed it would be. 

    Christopher Plummer - Robert Siegel interview for All Things Considered (3 June 2011)

  

Working with Julie Andrews is like being hit over the head with a Valentine's card. 

    Christopher Plummer

   

Christopher Plummer Speeches

  

Year: 2011 (84th) Academy Awards

Category: Actor in a Supporting Role

Film Title: Beginners 

Winner: Christopher Plummer 

Presenter: Melissa Leo 

Date & Venue: February 26, 2012; Hollywood & Highland Center

  

CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER:

 [To the Oscar:] You're only two years older than me, darling. Where have you been all my life?

 

I have a confession to make. When I first emerged from my mother's womb, I was already rehearsing my Academy thank you speech. But it was so long ago, mercifully for you I've forgotten it. But I haven't forgotten who to thank. The Academy, of course, for this extraordinary honor. And my fellow nominees: Kenneth, Nick, Jonah, dear Max. I'm so proud to be in your company. Of course I wouldn't be here at all if it weren't for Michael Mills and his enchanting film, "Beginners." And my screen partner, of course, Ewan McGregor, that superb artist who I would happily share this award with if I had any decency -- but I don't. All the producers at Olympus Films, especially Leslie Urdang and Miranda de Pencier. All the people at Focus, for their tremendous generosity and support. And not to mention my, haha, little band of agents provocateurs: Lou Pitt and his wife Berta, Carter Cohn, Pippa Markham, Perry Zimel, who've tried so hard to keep me out of jail. My daughter Amanda, who always makes me proud. And lastly, my long-suffering wife, Elaine, who deserves the Nobel Peace Prize for coming to my rescue every day of my life. Thank you so much.

   

Year: 2012 Golden Globe Awards

Category: Actor in a Supporting Role

Film Title: Beginners 

Winner: Christopher Plummer 

  

Christopher Plummer has charmed his way to the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture.

 

The legendary actor starred in "Beginners" as Hal Fields, a 70-something man who comes out of the closet after his wife dies. Through flashbacks in the memory of his son, played by Ewan McGregor, the film sees him experience a new freedom and then quickly deteriorate as he dies from cancer. Plummer is equally delightful and tragic; the film delivers the message that it's never too late to be the person you want to be, but that you can never get back lost time.

 

Remarkably, the win gives Plummer his first career Golden Globe win

 

"I want to salute my partner, Ewan -- that wily Scott -- Ewan 'My Heart's in the Highlands' McGregor," he said. "That scene-stealing swine... also, a 21 gun salute goes to Michael Mills, whose talent and wisdom made 'Beginners' such an enchanting story. And of course the rest of the family, including Cosmo my favorite dog... and lastly, a lady called Elaine, my wife of 43 years, whose bravery and beauty haunts me still."

 

Behind the scenes, he told the press, "Gay characters are human beings. we’re all exactly the same. That's the reason I played it the way I did, not as a caricature. They're a part of our society since the Egyptians, the Greeks - it's part of the human condition. I know there is a lot of antigay sentiment in our society at the moment and I abhor it."

 

 

Q&A: Christopher Plummer, The Guardian, Saturday 13 February 2010

 

'I'd like to be remembered as benign, beneficent and brilliant, but there's no hope of that'

 

When were you happiest?

When I was skipping school.

 

What is your greatest fear?

Loss of memory.

 

Which living person do you most admire, and why? 

My wife of 40 years, because she's beautiful, as wise as Solomon and a Cordon Bleu cook to boot.

 

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? 

A leaning toward procrastination.

 

What is the trait you most deplore in others? 

Man's incessant cruelty to man and to animals, which is almost worse.

 

What was your most embarrassing moment? 

Being caught in bed with a lady, by her husband.

 

Property aside, what's the most ­expensive thing you've bought?

A Renoir.

 

What would your super power be? 

To be able to play superbly Brahms' terrifying Paganini Variations.

 

What makes you unhappy? 

The slow disappearance of style.

 

What do you most dislike about your appearance? 

I really can't think.

 

If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would you choose? 

Let's just try to save all living beasts.

 

Who would play you in the film of your life? 

Colin Farrell, because he's desperate and because he can play anything.

 

What is the worst thing anyone's said to you? 

After slapping Sir John Gielgud a ­resounding crack on the back ­accompanied by a loud, "How are ya, Jack?" he turned, adjusted his cravat and said in a soft, melli­fluous voice, "And how are you, Christopher, in your own small way?"

 

What is your guiltiest pleasure? 

Stealing money from my grand­father's winter coat pockets.

 

To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why? 

My mum, for not showing her my gratitude ­before it was too late.

 

What or who is the greatest love of your life? 

Ma femme, la belle Elaine.

 

What does love feel like? 

Agony and ecstasy.

 

What was the best kiss of your life? 

My French nanny kissed me at a very tender age. It was long and tempting – my first real turn-on.

 

What has been your biggest disappointment? 

Not being a concert pianist.

 

How often do you have sex? 

Mentally, nonstop.

 

What is the closest you've come to death? 

Skiing at great speed and falling headfirst into a drift. I was starting to suffocate when the ski patrol and their St Bernard got me out.

 

What do you consider your greatest achievement? 

Arriving at 80 and staying there.

 

What song would you like played at your funeral? 

The Liebestod from Tristan And Isolde.

 

How would you like to be remembered? 

As being benign, beneficent and ­brilliant, but there's no hope of that.

 

What is the most important lesson life has taught you? 

Never forget your sense of humour.

 

 

The New Zealand Herald, Friday Nov 16, 2012

 

Nearing his 83rd birthday hasn't meant Christopher Plummer is slowing down. In fact, he seems to be putting the pedal to the metal.

 

"I've never worked as hard as I have in my life at the present time and I think it's wonderful," the oldest Oscar winner says. "It keeps me on my toes. It keeps me young. It keeps my memory going."

 

Plummer has enjoyed a late-career push that has included his first two Oscar nominations in the past three years. He won this year for his role in Beginners as Hal Fields, a museum director who becomes openly gay after his wife of 44 years dies.

 

Now two of his stage roles have hit the movie screens - The Tempest, which was recorded live over two days in 2010 by Des McAnuff, the artistic director of the Stratford Festival in Ontario, and his Barrymore, a two-person play exploring the life of actor John Barrymore that earned Plummer his second Tony in 1997.

 

"He is a force of nature. He is the tempest itself," says McAnuff, who is still stunned by Plummer's energy and skill. Right after winning the Oscar, McAnuff called to congratulate Plummer, but all he wanted to do was talk about his one-man show.

 

"He's got an insatiable appetite for hard work and for creativity."

 

Plummer has always been reluctant to allow his stage performances to be captured on film.

 

"I don't like it because it's always so cold. There's a barrier between you and the audience, which the screen always puts up, and so it loses a lot of its immediacy generally. So I don't approve really of just filming a play just straight on as it is."

 

The Tempest and Barrymore are more than just point-a-camera-at-the-stage recordings. In Shakespeare's play, the cameras swoop about the stage, creating close-ups and long shots.

 

In Barrymore, which was filmed over seven days in and around the Elgin Theatre in Toronto, director and adapter Erik Canuel used an empty theatre for some scenes and filmed others in alleyways. Plummer says the piece got more laughs in front of a live audience, but becomes more emotional on screen.

 

"I think film does the play justice in both cases. Barrymore is more filmic, but some of the magic does come through very well in The Tempest."

 

As for his own magic, Plummer hopes it keeps flowing. He laughs at all the accolades he's lately accepting.

 

"I think that's because I'm getting old. They're sort of saying, 'Oh, we better give it to him now otherwise he'll drop dead."

   

Christopher Plummer: On drugs vs. drinking, Stratford, and why he’s no longer a monster

 

by Kate Fillion on Sunday, July 4, 2010

  

Q: Many critics consider you the finest classical actor in North America—

 A: [Laughs] I don’t know why they stop at North America. What’s wrong with my English acting? I played the classics in England for years.

 

Q: On the day of a performance, do you have a particular routine?

 A: I like to get to the theatre a little early so I can go through the play, but that’s simply to exercise one’s memory, which, particularly at my age, 80, is important.

 

Q: Is your memory still sharp?

 A: Touch wood, I haven’t had any scares yet. Acting helps a great deal because you have to memorize everything, it keeps the brain alive. I hope.

 

Q: Reviewers are ecstatic about your performance of Prospero in The Tempest. What does it feel like when a performance is going well?

 A: Marvellous, because you know the audience is on your side, will do anything to encourage you along your way. I always say the audience is your real partner, and the other actors come after that.

 

Q: What do you do when the audience isn’t so responsive?

 A: You don’t give them your C performance, you try to give them your A performance, and press on. And you have to enjoy it, because otherwise the audience has won.

 

Q: You’ve said you were “avoiding Prospero like the plague” because, among other things, it’s a very difficult part. Why is it so difficult?

 A: Prospero is a sort of figurehead in a funny way: for a long time, at the end of the first half, he’s not present on the stage. And one has to find, in the middle of the piece, some sort of motivation for his sudden depressed feelings—it comes out of left field. That’s the playwright’s fault, I think. Believe it or not, I’m actually criticizing Mr. Shakespeare! The emotional line is not clear, and there’s an emptiness for Prospero, who’s just sitting in his dressing room waiting to go on.

 

Q: What are you doing in that time period?

 A: Trying to stay awake! Trying to keep the energy going, which subsides rather markedly while you sit there waiting for the end of the first act. But you can’t do anything else, because then you’d really lose concentration.

 

Q: Why do you think people are surprised by the comic touch you bring to the part?

 A: There’s millions of chances to get unexpected laughs in The Tempest. But the Prosperos I’ve seen over the years have made the mistake of playing him like a dry old professor, or a deacon who wears great big robes and pontificates. Even Gielgud played it rather intellectually, kind of distant. The thing I desperately tried to do was to find the humanity in Prospero. It’s a play about magic, and the disillusion of magic, and he is an extraordinary creature but he is also a human being.

 

Q: On opening weekend, the audience went crazy. How do you come back down to earth afterwards?

 A: I’ve been at it forever, it seems, so it doesn’t really take me too far up to the sky now. When I was young, the euphoria was truly extraordinary, and in those days, we drank ourselves down. We hit the bar, kind of anaesthetizing ourselves. We don’t drink so much these days, and I miss it dreadfully, the laughter, the naughtiness of the mid-century. It was such fun. Everybody takes themselves soooo seriously now.

 

Q: You’ve been in a lot of movies recently with actors known as bad boys: Russell Crowe, Colin Farrell. Do they remind you of yourself?

 A: A little bit, yes. But I didn’t take my badness quite as far as they did, to world-renown. I kept it rather local, and I’m terribly depressed about that. I’d love to have been just as famously bad as Russell and Colin.

 

Q: They don’t really behave any worse than you did?

 A: No, they’re not bad at all, they just have wonderful rebellious natures, which I love. It’s so necessary for an artist to be a rebel, and to want to be unique, original.

   

Q: And carousing was expected of actors in the fifties, but now it’s portrayed as a sign of emotional trouble.

 A: Yes. And remember, I was bad before drugs became fashionable. Drugs made everyone introspective and kind of selfish, they take you away from reaching out to people. In the fifties, drinking, we were much more friendly and open. I’m sure I was a terrible bore, but I thought I was being frightfully friendly.

 

Q: At 80, a lot of people give up things: big houses, work, sometimes driving. Is there anything you’ve given up?

 A: No, not yet. I certainly don’t want to retire—that is death to me. And I still enjoy driving, rather. Of course, flying, which used to be such fun, is a terrible bore now, unless you are lucky enough to have a time-share in a private plane. Which I don’t.

 

Q: But aren’t you flying first class, with people kowtowing to you?

 A: Oh yes, I’m spoiled, people do meet me and take me through the lines so I don’t have to wait as long, but it’s still miserable.

 

Q: Are there any roles you’d like to revisit that you can’t play because of your age?

 A: It’s such a shame that the electronic media have taught us to look upon age as a sort of yardstick for what to do or what not to do, because of course in the old days people were playing Hamlet until they were 70—and probably playing him better than they did in their twenties. I could be a terrific Hamlet now, because I know so much more about the theatre, I’ve done so much and could bring that in.

 

Q: Which Shakespearean characters are left to play?

 A: I’ve played all the greatest of the Bard’s, with the exception of Othello. And I know that one would get lynched over here playing Othello, which is a shame, because I’d love to take a crack at it. I might want to do Shylock, too.

 

Q: What about Falstaff?

 A: I’m not sure about him. It’s very sweaty standing around in those big costumes with padded tummies. The comfort level is not terribly intriguing.

 

Q: Your co-star in The Last Station, Helen Mirren, is playing Prospero in Julie Taymor’s film version of The Tempest. Are there any female parts you’d like to play?

 A: A very tacky, old Cleopatra! No, wait: the nurse in Romeo and Juliet! I think that is my dream, to play the nurse.

 

Q: Seriously, if asked to play the nurse, would you?

 A: It depends who was playing the other parts, but if they were exciting actors? Yes, damn well I’d do it.

 

Q: You’ve been extremely busy over the past few years. Do you ever relax?

 A: It’s a wonderful place to escape to, the theatre. I feel perhaps more relaxed there than I do in life. And strangely enough, I have just the same energy I always did, and I’m awfully ambitious still, I haven’t lost any of that.

   

Q: Because Prospero is often a career-capping role, you’ve said you intend to do something very quickly afterwards, to prove you’re not making an exit. So what’s next?

 A: I’ve been offered the part of Salvador Dali, on film, and I’m dying to do it if they can raise the money. The more outrageous the part, the better I like it. Actually, I’m in a bit of a panic at the moment, there are several great comic characters I’d like to try. It’s got to be comic, I just want to get laughs from now on.

 

Q: Is it easier to get laughs than to make people cry?

 A: I think it is easier, despite the famous line that dying is easy but comedy is terrifically hard. Making people cry is out of your hands. You can’t come into a performance with the intention of making people cry, because then you’re dead. Pathos is something totally inexplicable; you can’t play pathos, you have to own it. To simplify: if somebody cries a lot of real tears on the stage, it’s not going to be terribly moving. If you don’t cry, then the audience has a chance to cry.

 

Q: Would you consider doing something on TV? Like, say, an HBO series?

 A: HBO is interesting. But a series? No, it just chains you down, you end your life in a series. I’d rather end my life in action, on the stage.

 

Q: Just keel over while doing a play?

 A: Absolutely! It’s the way to go. I want to be very present at my own death, I want to know every second of it, every subtle change. It’ll be fascinating.

 

Q: Do you think people mellow with age?

 A: Yes, I think they do, though I’m not sure about me. I think I have entered a sort of second childhood: I’m kind of giddy, having a good time. I don’t want to mellow too much, that would be rather dull.

 

Q: But aren’t you easier to work with now?

 A: Oh, I’m a lot easier to work with. I’m a pushover, a sweetheart when it comes to my fellow players. I used to be a monster.

 

Q: What changed?

 A: In that respect, I suppose I have mellowed. It was just too exhausting to go on being a prick.

   

Plummer’s Peak

By David Edelstein 

Published May 29, 2011

  

On playing gay in Beginners: “Goran Visnjic [as Plummer’s young lover] was nervous, ’cause he’s very butch, and he would be pacing up and down and saying, ‘My God, my God, we’ve really got to kiss,’ and I began to get petulant about it and said, ‘What’s so bad about kissing me?’ It was nerve-racking, but once it happened, it was rather pleasurable, actually … We fell into it as if we’d always been gay.”

   

On not milking his death scene: “My character, Hal, is happy to die knowing he has finally been honest with himself and known a great love. Same with Cyrano de Bergerac. I acted with José Ferrer, who was great in that role, but he made the mistake of crying at his own death, and I said, ‘That is something I can never do.’ ”

   

On why he wanted to be a bad-boy ­actor: “My great-grandfather was prime minister of Canada, and I had a very Edwardian upbringing. It was a beautiful, romantic way of growing up, until the family lost its money. And I decided to be bad and rough and find the streets rather than the gates. Most actors come from the streets, and their rise to fame is guided by a natural anger. It was harder to find that rage coming from a gentle background. I think anger does fuel a successful acting career. To play the great roles, you have to learn how to blaze.”

   

On his high-living early acting days: ­“Jason Robards and I used to play scenes on the stage, and after we’d say the line, we’d ask, under our breath, ‘Where are we starting out tonight?’ It was usually the White Horse Inn, and we couldn’t wait for the show to be over to invade that bigger show called life. I thought at one or two glamorous moments that I wasn’t going to last very long. I thought, If I make 35, it’ll be okay, and then at 40 I got scared, and now that I’m 81 I’m scared to death.”

   

On being a dark presence on the set of The Sound of Music: “There had to be someone involved who was a shit—cynical, naughty—and I think [director] Robert Wise was grateful for my presence because it helped him steer the movie from veering over the cliff into a sea of mawkishness. But I loved Julie Andrews. The littlest one, who played Gretl, was an absolute monster, she took such attention away from everybody else. Then years later, I was in a play on Broadway, and this blonde bombshell showed up in my dressing room and said, ‘You don’t remember me, do you? My name is … Gretl.’ ”

  

On reuniting with the cast on Oprah: “I was dreading it, but it was nice to see the kids again. Some have done very well. They didn’t all become actors. Wise …”

   

On a crucial piece of direction from John Huston on The Man Who Would Be King: “At the end, when they bring the head [of Sean Connery], [my character] Kipling looks at it and says some line, and I tried to cry, and finally John said, ‘Chris, just take the music out of your voice!’ And by Jesus, I suddenly learned if you have a terribly emotional line in a huge close-up, you just have to deadly whisper it. And if you look at those old movie stars—the John Waynes and Gary Coopers—when they have a deadly line to say, it’s absolutely straight. The face does all the rest.”

 

On playing Mike Wallace: “He was a wonderful villain. He recognized that television is there to humiliate us; it’s the medium of accident and spontaneity, and he used it brilliantly. He once interviewed me and said, with his usual charm and tact, ‘Tell me, Mr. Plummer, why you aren’t considered a household name.’ But I loved his sort of zeroing in and zapping you. I admired his guts.”

   

On romping with Helen Mirren in The Last Station: “We are old theater buddies, and when you’re making a Hollywood movie, that’s such a relief, to talk the same language. She, who will take her clothes off at the drop of the hat, is the most joyous person to know. We laughed our way through Tolstoy. Can you imagine?”

   

On acting for Terrence Malick in The New World: He’s fascinated by nature, and just cuts to birds. Colin Farrell kept saying, ‘My character, he’s a fuckin’ osprey. That’s how he sees me.’ You’d be playing a passionate scene, and he’d say in that strange southern voice of his, mixed with Harvard and Oxford, ‘Ah, jes’ stop a minute, Chris. I think there’s an osprey flying over there. Do you mind if I just take a few shots?’ I wrote him an infuriated letter because I saw the film and I was hardly in it—he cut my part to shit. And it recalled the story of Adrien Brody, the lead in The Thin Red Line. He went to the premiere, and he wasn’t in it! I wrote to Terry and said, ‘You need a writer, baby, you need somebody to follow the ­story.’ I was awful to him, but I did say I admired him. He’s an individual—also mad as a hatter.”

 






UA-29874639-1