It is always so sad to hear of the passing of yet another celebrity, especially one who has quite literally been front and center in film for my entire life. Christopher Plummer was a phenomenal actor, one who left a filmography of more than 119 films to remember him by. With his booming voice and subtle pensive demeanor, there is perhaps no film that is not elevated by the gravitas of his presence.
There is no better example of this than his performance in “All The Money in the World.” Plummer stepped in after the film was already completed, replacing Kevin Spacey at the height of his sexual misconduct allegations. Not only did he step in, but he filmed all 22 scenes in 8 days and ended up earning himself an Oscar nomination for his performance. That my friends, is the power of Plummer. With such an extensive filmography, it’s almost impossible to truthfully and earnestly list all of my favorites, so I’ll just quickly highlight ones that are the most personal to me. I don’t think any list can do Plummer’s wonderful career justice, but I hope to at least honor him with my fond memories of his work.
The Sound of Music
There is no Christopher Plummer list that would be truly complete without Captain Von Trapp. It’s an injustice to perhaps his most beloved role, one that has transcended generations and continues to be cherished some 56 years later. Interestingly enough, Plummer actually hated the role. He refused to call the film by name in interviews and was very outspoken about his dislike of the film and character. He didn’t even make an appearance for the film until 45 years later, finally relenting and showing for the anniversary in 2010. While Plummer may not have been fond of the role, we are all the better for him bringing it to life. Yet another example of Plummer’s unyielding professionalism and work ethic; I hate this character, but I’m going to make sure the world does not.
It is very important to remember that I was quite clear about my criteria for this list. These are personal preferences based solely on my own experience with his work. It is not a hard, unwavering best of list. It is purely subjective, which is why a cartoon you probably don’t remember ever existing makes the list. I grew up on this film, and while I haven’t seen it in some time, I will never forget the villainous Grand Duke owl, voiced by Plummer. Critical and Box Office failures aside, “Rock-a-Doodle” holds a special place in my heart, and yes, the gravitas of Plummer as the primary antagonist unequivocally has a lot to do with that. It stays.
Another hidden gem, Plummer’s work in this romantic comedy/drama earned him numerous awards, including The Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. The film also stars Ewan Mcgregor and Melanie Laurent of “Inglorious Bastards” fame. The whole film is really good. Uniquely organized and brilliantly acted, it’s one of those films that just kind of showed up at the Oscars without anyone outside of critics knowing it existed. If you’re looking for a film that demonstrates the versatility and brilliance of Christopher Plummer, absolutely check this one out.
So what? I like cartoons. I like Shakespeare too, but this is a list of my personal favorite Plummer films, not Plummer’s stellar stage work. I absolutely adore “Up.” Not only is packed with some of the most adult themes within the first 5 minutes that are consistently heartbreaking, but the voice cast it features is top notch. Plummer truly understands voice work, and the power of his booming voice lent to Charles Muntz as the protagonist’s hero turned nemesis is truly brilliant. Even in animation, Plummer delivers.
Nobody does old rich father figure with mysterious motives delivered with the best of intentions quite like Christopher Plummer. His performance in “Knives Out” is no different. The film is star studded from top to bottom, and while he is not prominently featured in the film despite being the catalyst of events, you’re always rewarded when he IS on screen. I love this entire film from start to finish, but some of my absolute favorite scenes are the short and sweet ones between him and Ana De Armas. Plummer is big and wise yet charming and lovable, always adding complexity to otherwise straight forward archetypes. Seriously, he’s REALLY good here. Get over your “Last Jedi” resentment and watch this movie.
So there you have it, a quick glimpse at some of my personal favorite Christopher Plummer performances. I’m sure your list is wildly different, and that’s ok. We were rewarded to have been able to witness Plummer’s work, and he left us with a massive legacy of terrific performances to choose from and remember him by. Thank you, Christopher Plummer.
What are some of your favorite Christopher Plummer performances?