At 85, Christopher Plummer Finds New Life in Older Roles

Christopher plummer is having “terrible nightmares” about his upcoming hand and footprint ceremony.

“How am I going to walk away?” he quips of the March 27 honor taking place at TCL Chinese Theatre Imax in Hollywood as part of the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival. (John Huston’s 1975 “The Man Who Would Be King,” in which Plummer plays opposite Michael Caine and Sean Connery, is also screening.) “Is there a plastic surgeon available to replace my hands and feet? I dream at night that they get stuck in the cement. But it’s a terrific honor and I hope it doesn’t mean that once I’m buried, that’s it.”

The odds that the legendary Canadian-born actor, witty and distinguished and prone to jocular self-doubt, will vanish from the public eye at this point in time are, of course, nil. To the contrary, Plummer, who earned fame as the stoic patriarch Captain Georg Von Trapp in Robert Wise’s 1965 best picture Oscar winner, “The Sound of Music,” has never been more popular. Over the past six years, the Emmy and Tony Award winner has been nominated twice for an Oscar (his role as Leo Tolstoy in “The Last Station” fielded his inaugural nom and he snatched the prize in 2012 for his supporting role as a dying septuagenarian who emerges from the closet and develops a zest for life in “Beginners”); starred as John Barrymore in PBS’ “Great Performances”; and regaled audiences with his one-man stage show, “A Word or Two.”

“There are a few people that have kept me in mind. How nice, how sweet, because all of my real friends in life have either died of drink or have left me,” says Plummer. “But really, (the best actor Oscar win) it launched me into another career, because now you’re playing older roles and King Lear is looking awfully young. And it’s wonderful, because it stretches you out of old age. It was a very warm reception when my name was called. They didn’t throw stones.”

Plummer is drawing praise for his role as the long-suffering manager of aging rocker Al Pacino in Bleecker Street’s music-biz dramedy “Danny Collins,” written and directed by Dan Fogelman. “He gave himself over so easily to the movie and to me as a director,” says Fogelman.

“They don’t make them like him anymore, both in terms of how kind a man he is but also the skill set and the theater chops,” says Fogelman.

For Plummer, “Danny Collins” presented an opportunity to play a character that, per Fogelman, showcases “a completely different side of him.”

“Dan is bright as hell and he’s such a good writer,” says Plummer. “He’s sophisticated and wonderfully naïve and fresh all at the same time. I just had a wonderful time and I hope to God he asks me to do something again.”

Ultimately, it’s the craft, not the accolades, that sustains Plummer’s passion for working on both stage and screen.

“You never have time to think, ‘Oh God, is this going to be an award-winning performance?’ ” says Plummer. “I mean, what a conceited way of tackling your life’s work.Just be as good as you can be, you silly fool.”

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