Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Christopher Plummer: Beyond Captain Von Trapp

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Christopher Plummer, the dapper actor who played Captain John Von Trapp in the movie classic “The Sound of Music” and became the oldest actor to win an Oscar at 82, has died . He was 91 years old.

Plummer died  at his home in Connecticut accompanied by his wife, Elaine Taylor, said Lou Pitt, who for years was his friend and manager.

Plummer, whose full name was Arthur Christopher Orme Plummer, was born in Toronto. His maternal great-grandfather was Canadian Prime Minister Sir John Abbott. His parents divorced when he was just a baby; he was raised by his mother and his aunts.

Throughout more than 50 years of experience, Plummer has worked on projects as varied as the film “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” (“The girl with the dragon tattoo”), the animated film “Up” (“Up, an adventure tall”), in which he provided the voice of the villain, and the Broadway play “Inherit the Wind,” as a wily lawyer.

But it was the role of the VonTrapp patriarch, which he played opposite JulieAndrews, that launched him to stardom . Plummer played the Austrian captain who must flee his country with his singing family to avoid serving in the Nazi army, a role he called “humorless and one-dimensional.” He spent the rest of his life referring to the film as “The Sound of Mucus”, or “S & M” (sadomasochism).

“We tried so hard to inject him with humor… It was almost impossible. It was agony trying to make that guy not a cardboard figure,” he said on more than one occasion in various interviews.The character catapulted him to fame, but Plummer never sought leading roles despite his gray hair, good looks and slight English accent. He preferred character roles, which he considered more meaty.

The actor had a notable film renaissance in his later life, beginning with his acclaimed performance as “Mike Wallace” in Michael Mann’s 1999 film “The Insider,” and continuing with films like “A Beautiful Mind” (“A brilliant mind”) of 2001 and “The Last Station” (“The last station”) of 2009, whose role as a deteriorated Tolstoy earned him an Oscar nomination.

In 2017, Plummer replaced Kevin Spacey as J. Paul Getty in “All the Money in the World” just six weeks before its theatrical release. The decision was officially validated in the best possible way: with an Oscar nomination, his third, for best supporting actor. In 2019, he starred in the thriller drama series “Departure.”

There were down periods in his career, with a “Pink Panther” movie, “Dracula 2000″″ and even a “Star Trek” movie. But Plummer had more reasons in mind than the scripts.

“For a long time, I accepted roles that took me to attractive places in the world. Instead of filming in the Bronx, I preferred to go to the south of France, like the crazy creature that I am,” he commented in an interview in 2007… “So I I sacrificed a lot of my career for nicer hotels and more attractive beaches,” he added.

The Canadian-born actor played most of Shakespeare’s great roles, including Hamlet, Othello, Prospero, Henry V and a stunning King Lear at Lincoln Center in 2004. He was a frequent star at Canada’s Stratford Shakespeare Festival.

“I’ve gotten simpler and simpler playing Shakespeare,” he said in 2007. “I’m not as flamboyant as I used to be. I don’t hear my voice as much anymore. All the difficulties of playing the classics, you can fall in love with yourself,” he said.

Awards and a late Oscar

Throughout his career, Plummer was recognized with various awards: he won two Tony Awards. The first in 1974 for best actor in a musical for the leading role of “Cyrano”, and the second in 1997 for his portrayal of John Barrymore in “Barrymore”. He also received two Emmy Awards, a SAG Award (ScreenActorsGuild) and a BAFTA Award (British Academy Film Awards).

In 2012, at the age of 82, he won the Oscar for best supporting actor for his work in “Beginners,” a film in which he played a museum director who comes out as openly gay after the death of his wife of 44 years. years: “His last love relationship becomes an inspiration for his son, who has difficulties to overcome the death of his father and find intimacy in a new relationship,” explained the actor about the events that inspired the film.

Fired by friends and colleagues

After the announcement of his death, Hollywood and Broadway artists were quick to express their condolences. Joseph Gordon-Levitt called Plummer “one of the greats” and George Takei wrote: “Rest in everlasting music, Captain Von Trapp.” The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences noted that Plummer “wowed audiences across generations in memorable roles. He will be missed.” For her part, Julie Andrews posted: “The world has lost an accomplished actor and I have lost a dear friend.”

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