Christopher Plummer, Oscar-Winning Actor, Dies at 91
It seems like we’ve lost a slew of Hollywood greats in recent weeks, including Cloris Leachman and Cicely Tyson, and now here is another. Christopher Plummer, the Oscar, Emmy, and Tony winner, has died. He was 91 years old.
According to the Associated Press, “Plummer died Friday morning at his home in Connecticut with his wife, Elaine Taylor, by his side.” Plummer remained active until the end of his life. Just three years ago, he became the oldest performer in history to be nominated for an Academy Award for his work in Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World. Plummer famously stepped into the role after the entire movie was shot, when sexual abuse allegations emerged against one of its previous stars, Kevin Spacey. Plummer took over Spacey’s role, and reshot every single one of his character’s scenes in a matter of eight days. He wound up getting an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. It was his third nomination.
Still, Plummer was arguably best known for his performance as Captain von Trapp in The Sound of Music. Despite the fact that the film helped launch his career in Hollywood, Plummer was never fond of the movie, often referring to it dismissively by a variety of nicknames like “The Sound of Mucus.” In 2010, he told the Boston Globe he was “a bit bored with the character,” and although he “worked hard enough to make him interesting, it was a bit like flogging a dead horse.”
That interview was during the time Plummer was promoting the 2010 movie that wound up winning him his Oscar. In Beginners, he plays Hal, the father of the main character, played by Ewan McGregor. Late in Hal’s life, after the death of his wife, he comes out to his son as gay. The story was based on the real-life relationship between Beginners’ writer/director Mike Mills and his own father. At 82 when he won the award, Plummer became the oldest actor to win an Oscar.
Born in Toronto, Plummer fell in love with acting as a boy and after finding some success in Canadian television, he began getting work in America. He was nominated for his first Tony in 1959, and won his first in 1974, for the musical version of Cyrano. (He’d win a second 25 years later, in Barrymore.)
Plummer worked steadily in stage, film, and television for decades, but his later career resurgence was largely thanks to his performance in 1999’s The Insider, where he played 60 Minutes anchor Mike Wallace and garnered numerous awards and nominations. Still, my personal favorite Plummer performance might be as the Shakespeare quoting Klingon General Chang in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
All in all, Plummer leaves behind an incredible body of work across multiple mediums. (He missed the EGOT by a hair; he was even nominated for a Grammy in 1986, but lost.) He will be missed.
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