Star Power. Relevance. Endurance. Work!
So, RIP, Captain Von Trapp and so many other faces of Christopher Plummer. Except he, like they, as characters, will remain vital, immortal, valid.
I said the same of Captain Sir Tom Moore last week. The key to a timeless star quality and charm is just to remain relevant, stay focused, have stuff to do, right until the end and beyond.
Plummer will of course be famous in household name terms for The Sound of Music. And that’s fine as legacies go. Except he’s so much more than that one role. There was versatility, longevity, consistency.
Sure, Hollywood went through a phase of casting Plummer as baddie of the week / cuckolded Brit / pound-land James Bond/David Niven. That was inevitable. Actors have to eat! They have to take the work. And he did have that kind of George Sanders / Roger Moore quality. Hence his turning up in Return of The Pink Panther .
Could he have been Bond? Maybe. He had the dapper quality. The action-man credentials. The poise, elegance. But the fact is that Plummer (much like his daughter, Amanda) had way more fun playing within franchise movies on occasion but then going off and doing other work of more varied and experimental nature.
Hence, I return to my ongoing theme. That ‘second wind’. You embrace age, you recognise the advancement of time. You neither rage against the dying of the light nor shuffle into elderly obscurity. Instead? You keep working, vital to the last and upbeat, all the way. THAT was what Plummer did so well, cultivating a kind of eternally mid to old age persona, which set him up in relentless work from the 1970s until his death.
He pops up in Malcolm X, Twelve Monkeys, National Treasure, Star Trek 6, A Beautiful Mind, Alexander, Syriana, The Insider, Inside Man, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Knives Out and many other distinguished films.
You know it’s ‘him’ and yet he blends into ensemble casts and plot utility, as any great actor should. It is for that craftsmanship that he won an Oscar (he had turned 80) in 2010 for Beginners.
And for that same reason, Ridley Scott cast him as J. Paul Getty in All the Money in the World (2017).Plummer replaced Kevin Spacey at short notice and remarkably, Scott reshot and edited the new pieces within weeks, thereby meeting a release date.
Contrary to popular belief, this was not ‘cancel culture’ at work but simply Scott’s quite accurate assessment that the Spacey scandal would engulf the film’s reception. He needed another first rate actor to save his movie and he got just that, with Plummer.
Whilst those Sound of Music clips will accompany every second tribute to the man? And I have no objections because I adore Julie Andrews.. Christopher Plummer should be remembered for class, polish, creativity and a joy in his craft, throughout life. RIP. The work lives on.