He may not have been a leading man, or an action hero in his days but Christopher Plummer was a class apart. He was a theatre actor who graduated to films and TV and continued to showcase his talent, knowing that he was better than others, and had to play lengthy innings. Unlike his contemporaries from the 1950s and the 1960s, he kept going on like an experienced Test batsman, who grew in stature as he continued, and by the time he left the field, he had become a legend in his lifetime. The older generation may remember him for his countless years as a hardworking actor, but he was popular amongst the newer ones as well. The five roles they would remember him by are sure to keep him alive in the memories of all those who lived in the Christopher Plummer era.
The Sound of Music (Captain Georg von Trapp)
Every now and then, a lesser-known actor gets to play a character that not only changes his life but shapes up his career in a way that even he might not have imagined. The role of Captain Georg von Trapp did the same to Christopher Plummer who was hardly four films old when he got to play the employer turned love interest of Julie Andrews’ Maria (later von Trapp) in 1965. At first, he is shown to be a strict disciplinarian in the movie but ‘The Sound of Music’ changes it all for the father of seven children, who took a liking to their governess long before she changed their father. Although he didn’t get to sing the songs that were filmed on him in the musical (Bill Lee did his singing), his performance was strong enough to steer him into the A-list of Hollywood, an esteemed group he never left till he left for his heavenly abode.
Murder by Decree (Sherlock Holmes)
Before it became a fashion to play Sherlock Holmes, Christopher Plummer had been there and done that. The actor used his ability to sound British perfectly to play the world’s first consulting detective on a case that continues to baffle the whole world – the Jack the Ripper case. Yes, it wasn’t an Arthur Conan Doyle mystery or something from the 56 short stories or 4 novels the master detective appeared in, but it was something that resonated with the viewers of the 1970s (when it was released) and today. As Sherlock Holmes, Christopher Plummer was first-rate displaying limited emotions and solving crimes at the same time. He would be remembered as one of those actors who helped the character become popular at a time when people were sort of forgetting him – Jeremy Brett, Robert Downey Jr. and Benedict Cumberbatch came later and solidified the good work done by Plummer.
A Beautiful Mind (Dr. Rosen)
The younger audience may remember this film for Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly’s spectacular performances, Ron Howard’s brilliant direction, and later multiple Academy Award wins in 2002, but the impact wouldn’t have been this great had it not featured Christopher Plummer. He played the doctor who was the first to point out that there was something wrong with Dr. Nash (the character played by Russell Crowe) and although the patient doesn’t return to him, and restart his treatment, it was his character who made him realize that what he thought was real, were just hallucinations. This was Christopher Plummer’s second collaboration with Russell Crowe after The Insider and the latter was nominated for Best Actor Oscars on both occasions. No wonder Russell Crowe paid a rich tribute to his two-time co-star after his death a few days back.
Knives Out (Harlan Thrombey)
And then there was the super mysterious flick where the whole mystery revolved around Christopher Plummer’s death. Or was it a suicide? Homicide? Accidental overdose? The actor’s character might have died in the initial frames of the 2019-movie but he stayed alive in flashbacks and was there till the mystery was solved. Not only did Christopher Plummer led the ensemble cast that featured Chris Evans, Daniel Craig, Don Johnson, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon and Ana de Armas, but delivered a power pack performance as usual. Playing a mystery novelist who celebrated his 85th birthday with his family, his character showed his true colors by exposing all in flashbacks, something that gave everyone a motive to see him die quickly, and before he can change his will. But he was always one step ahead of them all, and left it all to the most unlikely person in the house, and had the last laugh!
The Last Full Measure (Frank Pitsenbarger)
In what turned out to be his final film one year before his death, Christopher Plummer played the father of a ‘Medal of Honor’ candidate who was denied the award for bureaucratic reasons. For three decades he and his wife (the wonderful Diane Ladd) tried to get what in their minds was ‘justice’ for their heroic son who saved the lives of many in the Vietnam War, and they finally get justice after a long battle. Christopher Plummer’s performance was first-rate throughout the movie, as he played a dying old man who had no other wish than to see his son get awarded in his lifetime. The pain, the agony, and finally the happiness was all there when he finally received the ‘Medal of Honor’, a scene that moved the whole cinema to tears, and was nothing short of a befitting farewell for an actor who gave his life to the entertainment industry.