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Christopher Plummer, Canadian born and one of the world’s great actors

by Marla Lewin

Christopher Plummer as Dr. Parnassus Photo taken by Liam Daniel, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Christopher Plummer not only stars as a mystic who sells his soul to the devil in Terry GIlliam’s Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus,but he plays Leo Tolstoy in the Last Station by Michael Hoffman. He has also just finished his memoirs called “In Spite of Himself”.


Scott Foundas from the LA weekly, had just read the book, and was prepared to question the actor for the tribute. Plummer quiped the book was longer than Tolstoy’s War and Peace. The first question was what else could he have been, other than an actor? Plummer replied, “A classical or jazz pianist. But to be successful in those professions. He decided one would have to like to work very hard, and that is a very lonely life, traveling all the time. He had a cousin who did that and it turned out to be a very lonely experience.”


Instead he spent much of his life in the theatre. He feels that is where he has done his best work. He loves Shakespeare’s, Hamlet, Lear, and Othello. He would like to do that kind of film work, but feels the classical world is gone. He liked the 50’s in New York, that was the golden age of acting. he spent the 60’s in London and that was golden age of living.. New York, and London, those were the two great cities in those times, and he misses them. Drinking is no longer fashionable. He remembers planning to ride his motorcycle into a bar and out the backdoor in New York. He was on board with Jason Robard and another friend they hit the entrance curb at high speed and the bike stopped immediately but hey continued to fly forward into the bar at full speed, they flew through the door and landed at their table and ordered a Jack Daniels. People had a sense of humor then. There were great writers, who understood great tragic moments, but there is no one like Shakespeare. But there was Elia Kazan.


Asked what was the great thing about his starring in the Sound of Music? Plummer confessed what was greatest is that it allowed him to get a great table at a his favorite restaurants. Food, drink and women have always been his lifelong obsession.


James McAvoy and Christopher Plummer Photo taken by Stephan Rabold, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

When asked what it is like playing Mike Wallace or Tolstoy, he joked, he tries not to confuse the two. He gave us some insight into acting. When Mike Wallace was on television, and he used to watch him, he would have a certain screen personality, he would use this for his character. An actor needs to do certain things quite exact. To become Leo Tolstoy, he watched documentaries about him, but there no recordings of his voice. He imagined he would have a deep voice, full of authority. His performance should bring him a best supporting actor nod. He said he loved working with Helen Mirren, she is so talented and sensual. It was one of the reasons he wanted to do the film, he has so admired her work. He would love to do a comedy with Helen.

Christopher Plummer, Michael Hoffman, and Helen Mirren Photo taken by Stephan Rabold, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics


They are terrific as husband of wife of forty eight years, in the Last Station. This is a film about relationships and love. It screened after the interview. Michael Hoffman, the writer/director spoke before the screening, and introduced the author of the best selling novel the movie was based on from the audience, Jay Parini. He explained that Anthony Quinn, had owned the rights for many years, and had planned to play Tolstoy. Producer Bonnie Arnold then bought the rights, and everyone was thrilled with Michael’s screenplay. Michael said Last Station is a tale of two romances, one beginning, and one near its’ end. It is about the difficulty of living with love, and the impossibility of living without it. It fully captures the nature of the man Tolstoy and those around him and what it must have truly living with this bigger than life character that the world was obsessed with like any modern rock star or major celebrity. Even his most mundane actions were photographed or captured on movie film. Every uttterance was captured by multiple secretaries for diaries or commentaries.


Look for this film on many 10 best lists at the end of the year and I hear distinct Oscar buzz building.


For more information on this film visit the website Last Station

by Marla Lewin: The Global Film Village

Check Parnassus's blog with more interview with Terry Gilliam Lily Cole...:

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