Obituary: Christopher Plummer

Christopher Plummer 1929-2021

“You’re only two years younger than me, darling. Where have you been all my life?”

These are the words said by Christopher Plummer to his newly-won Oscar back in 2011. An Oscar some would say was also well-overdue.

As unbelievable as it may seem, Plummer was only first nominated two years earlier, in 2009, thirty-five years earlier, he won a Tony Award for his leading role in Cyrano on Broadway. He is, in fact, the only Canadian to complete the Triple Crown of Acting (Academy Award, Emmy Award, and Tony Award).

All three of his Academy Award nominations came for Supporting Roles, but throughout his career, he showed himself to be incredibly versatile as both a Leading and Supporting player.

Many modern cinema-goers will recognize him from recent films such as Knives out (as family patriarch Harlan Thrombey), his Oscar-winning turn in Beginners, and, of course, perhaps most (in)famously as J. Paul Getty in All the Money in the World (for which he scored another Oscar nomination).

It would do a disservice to the man’s legacy to ruminate on the circumstances that saw him hastily film Getty’s scenes in Ridley Scott’s drama. Suffice it to say, he made it seem like there was never any other choice for the role.

To many older heads, he will perhaps be most recognisable for his famous turn as Captain von Trapp in The Sound of Music, although the man himself had little love for the film which made him a household name. Labelling the film ‘The Sound of Mucus’ in the years since its release.

All of this to one side, however, he was a phenomenally respected actor in his field, with a filmography as long as your arm. His career spanned nearly seventy years, on stage and screen, and showed no signs of slowing down in his twilight years, with him consistently working into his nineties, with notable roles in the aforementioned Knives Out, and a leading TV role in NBC’s departure. At the time of his passing, he was, according to his wife, preparing to appear as ‘King Lear’ in a film adaptation of the famous Shakespeare tragedy.

It is perhaps no great shock when someone of Plummer’s age passes away, but it is no less sad. He showed in recent years that he still had something left to give, and brought a unique class to the projects he was involved with, the sort of which is gradually becoming a dying art in Hollywood. Not to mention the tremendous amount of range he possessed as a performer that saw him in roles that varied from Shakespearean kings to Star Trek Klingons, and everything in-between.

Still, while we mourn the loss of a true talent, we must spare a thought for his immeasurable legacy he leaves us, and of course, the family he leaves behind; the family that surrounded him as he passed, following a fall at his home.

It must be said that Plummer had few equals, and his passing is yet another example of us losing a ‘last of his kind’ talent, we are not likely to see a performer like him again.

Nevertheless, he is outlived by his immeasurable legacy. One that spans seven decades, and goes beyond awards and accolades. The shadow he cast was long indeed, and many will be grateful for having been able to stand in it.

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