Celebrities Remember Christopher Plummer, a ‘Great Actor in the Truest Sense’

Antonio Ferme
·6-min read

Christopher Plummer, the Canadian-born Shakespearean actor, died peacefully at his home in Connecticut Friday morning. The Oscar winner was best known for his roles in “The Sound of Music,” “Beginners” and Rian Johnson’s recent film “Knives Out.” He was 91.

Following the news of Plummer’s death, the actor’s co-stars and other prominent entertainment figures shared tributes and reflected on his long career in Hollywood.

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In a statement to Variety, filmmaker Ridley Scott and his wife, Giannina, paid tribute to the actor. They worked together on “All the Money in the World” in 2017.

“What a guy. What a talent. What a life. And I was fortunate enough to work with him less than 2 years ago and had a wonderful experience. My heartfelt condolences go to [Plummer’s wife] Elaine. He will be really missed.”

Helen Mirren also gave a statement to Variety about the death of Plummer, reminiscing on their time working together on the set of Michael Hoffman’s “The Last Station.”

“I had the great honour to work with Chris Plummer in his Oscar-nominated role of Tolstoy,” Mirren said. “He was a mighty force both as Man and Actor. He was an actor in the 19th century meaning of the word — his commitment to his profession. His art was total, theater being a constant and the most important part of the totality of his drive to engage with storytelling. He was fearless, energetic, courageous, knowledgeable, professional and a monument to what an actor can be. A Great Actor in the truest sense.”

Mirren’s spouse, Taylor Hackford, told Variety that Plummer knew every acting trick in the book — and many that weren’t even in the book. He shared a story from their time working together on the set of “Dolores Clairborne.”

“When we were making ‘Dolores Clairborne’ together in Nova Scotia with Kathy Bates & Jennifer Jason Leigh, I was having a terrible time getting my consume designer, Shay Cunliffe, to find an old rumpled suit to match the haggard, ruthless character Chris was playing, Inspector John Mackie,” Hackford said. “She had put 3 or 4 terrible suits on him, but each time he looked like a million buck$. Finally, I said: ‘Shay, why can’t you make this character looked like the rumpled, old cop I envision?’ Deeply frustrated, she said she’d picked the worst suits she’d ever seen. Chris walked over to me and whispered: ‘Taylor, it’s impossible for me to look bad in a suit – that’s just the way I’m built. But let me do something that will change all that – I’ll break my nose.’ While Shay & I stood there confused, Chris went into the make-up trailer, took an eyebrow pencil and drew a line across his perfect nose, expertly shading it into a deep and vicious scar. Immediately, his appearance changed dramatically – that old suit looked thread-bare and baggy – his face became haggard and hawk-like. My desired image of Inspector John Mackie suddenly materialized before my eyes. Chris Plummer always knew what to do to perfect a role – he and Kathy Bates went on to trade acting blows brilliantly – both delivering the definition of consummate acting.”

Mike Mills, director of “Beginners,” told Variety that it was a great honor to work with Plummer and to be in conversation with such a dedicated artist.

“In his 80’s when we met, I marveled at his intense curiosity, hunger to make something vulnerable, and his need to challenge himself,” Mills said. “Christopher was both dignified and mischievous, deeply cultured and always looking for a good laugh. As he said about playing my father who was dying “not an ounce of self-pity”, and that’s how he was. I’ll always be indebted to Christopher for honoring the story of an older man who dares to come out of the closet, to overcome shame with grace, and intelligence, and a rowdy desire for life – Christopher knew how to make that story alive for so many people.”

Shirley Maclaine, who last acted alongside Plummer in “Elsa and Fred” in 2014, said “he was my favorite. Such cynical wit, may he rest in laughter.”

“Up” director Pete Docter said, “Mr. Plummer was an actor who carried his 50+ years of experience into the room, carrying with him experience alongside actors like Orson Welles. You felt it. I was in awe, and in fear of him, because he made it clear he was not one to suffer fools. He was self-assured and stubborn, but he also delivered. When we recorded him for the role of Charles Muntz, in ‘Up,’ every take was strong, honest and believable, bringing dimension and depth to the character beyond anything we’d imagined, leaving us only to decide which of the great takes we wanted to use. We will miss him dearly.”

Ted Chapin, president of The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, told Variety that he will miss Plummer greatly.

“Christopher Plummer was, well, the Captain,” Chapin said. “Although he had a love/not-so-much relationship with his role in The Sound of Music, he gradually came around to realizing that he might as well embrace the movie and his performance in it. On some of the movie’s anniversaries, he was coaxed to join in, and no one did the coaxing better than Julie Andrews. I shall miss the gatherings when I was often on ‘Chris’ duty, keeping him amused while, for example, Annie Leibovitz prepared for the anniversary photo. I shall miss him greatly, but I’m so glad his contribution to the Rodgers and Hammerstein legacy will live on.”

Other celebrities flooded social media with tributes regarding Plummer’s death. See their reactions below:

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