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Christopher Plummer died peacefully at his Connecticut home on Feb. 5 at age 91. Elaine Taylor, his wife and best friend for 53 years, was by his side.
I was in awe of Chris starting in 1969, when I was just out of film school in London and saw him as the lead in The Royal Hunt of the Sun. I wanted to work with him ever since. He was so gracious, and meeting him for the first time was enthralling.
Later, in editing The Insider, we might have a 60 Minutes broadcast on one monitor and my dailies on another, and we would suffer a momentary perceptual dissonance: Which one was the real Mike Wallace?
One insanely great dinner occurred during the shoot in Louisville, Kentucky. I invited Chris, Al Pacino, Colm Feore and the real Lowell Bergman [played by Pacino in the film]. Al doesn’t drink, I do, Chris very much did, and after some fine bottles of red wine, Al, with great deference to Chris, started talking about Shakespeare. Al had directed his film Looking for Richard, about Shakespeare’s Richard III. Plummer was one of the most brilliant Shakespearean actors around. On the way out through the Seelbach Hotel lobby, Chris stopped at the grand piano and began singing.
There are few people left alive like Chris Plummer. Culture was alive and resonant within him and brought depth to everything he did, whether it was Oedipus or The Sound of Music. If you’d asked me when I first met Chris in 1999 if this man would ever retire, I would have answered of course not. He will work until the last minute.
This story appears in the Feb. 10 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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