Christopher Plummer is featured in Shakespeare Uncovered: King Lear with Christopher Plummer, which airs Friday, January 30 at 10PM EST (check local listings).
Christopher Plummer has enjoyed almost 60 years as one of the theatre’s most respected actors and as a veteran of over 100 motion pictures. Raised in Montreal, he began his professional career on stage and radio in both French and English. After Eva Le Gallienne gave him his New York debut (1954) he went on to star in many celebrated productions on Broadway and London’s West End winning accolades on both sides of the Atlantic. He has won two Tony Awards for the musical Cyrano and for Barrymore plus seven Tony nominations, his latest for his King Lear (2004) and for his Clarence Darrow in Inherit the Wind (2007); also three Drama Desk Awards and the National Arts Club Medal. A former leading member of the Royal National Theatre under Sir Laurence Olivier and the Royal Shakespeare Company under Sir Peter Hall, where he won London’s Evening Standard Award for Best Actor in Becket; he has also led Canada’s Stratford Festival in its formative years under Sir Tyrone Guthrie and Michael Langham.
Since Sidney Lumet introduced him to the screen in Stage Struck (1958), his range of notable films include The Man Who Would Be King, Battle of Britain, Waterloo, Fall of The Roman Empire, Star Trek VI, Twelve Monkeys and the 1965 Oscar-winning The Sound of Music. More recent films include The Insider (as Mike Wallace; the National Film Critics Award), the acclaimed A Beautiful Mind, Man in the Chair, Must Love Dogs, National Treasure, Syriana and Inside Man. His TV appearances, which number close to 100, include the Emmy-winning BBC Hamlet at Elsinore playing the title role; the Emmy-winning productions The Thornbirds, Nuremberg, Little Moon of Alban and HBO’s Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight earning him seven Emmy nominations and taking home two Emmys.
Apart from honors in the UK, USA, Austria and Canada, he was the first performer to receive the Jason Robards Award in memory of his great friend, the Edwin Booth Award and the Sir John Gielgud Quill Award. In 1968, sanctioned by Elizabeth II, he was invested as a Companion of the Order of Canada (an honorary knighthood). An Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts at Juilliard, he also received the Governor General’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000. In 1986 he was inducted into the Theater Hall of
Fame and in 2000 Canada’s Walk of Fame.
Plummer’s more recent projects include the highly praised animated films Up, 9 and My Dog Tulip, as well as the title role in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, directed by Terry Gilliam. He played the great novelist Tolstoy opposite Helen Mirren in The Last Station for Sony Classics where he received his first Academy Award nomination in 2010. He followed that up the next year with another nomination and a win for Best Supporting Actor in Beginners from writer/director Mike Mills and appeared in David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo that same year. In July and August 2012, he returned to the Stratford Festival to perform his one-man show that he created entitled A Word or Two, directed by Des McAnuff. In 2013, he starred opposite Oscar winner Shirley MacLaine in Elsa & Fred directed by Michael Radford, Hector And The Search for Happiness directed by Peter Chelsom, Imagined opposite Al Pacino and Annette Bening for writer/director Dan Fogelman and The Forger opposite John Travolta directed by Phillip Martin.
His recent self-written best selling memoir, In Spite of Myself (Afred A. Knopf Publishers) is being much lauded by critics and public alike.