Christopher Plummer is arguably the finest actor of the post-World War II period never to be nominated for an Academy Award, following in the footsteps of John Barrymore, for whose portrayal onBroadway he won a Tony Award. Aside from Barrymore, Plummer is the premier Shakespearean actor to come out of North America in the 20th century. He has also given many fine portrayals on film, particularly as he got older and settled down into a comfortable marriage with his third wife. Though he likely always be remembered as Baron Von Trapp in the atomic bomb-strength blockbuster The Sound of Music (1965), his later film work includes such outstanding performances as the best cinema Sherlock Holmes--other than Basil Rathbone -- in Murder by Decree (1979), the chilling villain in The Silent Partner (1978), his iconoclastic Mike Wallace in The Insider (1999) and the empathetic psychiatrist in A Beautiful Mind (2001). Though many times tipped for a Best Supporting Actor nomination in the last ten years, he has never made it to the post. Aside from the traditional anti-New York bias of the Academy, whether this is because of his Canadian heritage is unknown. Many Canadians have won Ocars, including Mary Pickford, Marie Dressler, Norma Shearer and Walter Huston, but there is something different about Plummer; the fact that his demeanor and talent mark him off as more English than American may put off Academy voters (perhaps it is fitting that there is something "foreign" about Plummer: he is the great-grandson of former Canadian Prime Minister Sir John Abbott).
Aside from his failure to ring the gong at the Academy Awards, Plummer remains one of the most respected and honored actors performing in the English language. He's won two Emmy Awards out of six nominations stretching 46 years from 1959 and 2005, and one Genie Award in five nominations from 1980 to 2004. For his stage work, Plummer has racked up two Tony Awards on six nominations, the first in 1974 as Best Actor (Musical) for the title role in "Cyrano," and the second in 1997, as Best Actor (Play), in "Barrymore." Surprisingly, he did not win (though he was nominated) for his masterful 2004 "King Lear," which he originated at the Stratford Festival in Ontario and brought down toBroadway for a sold-out run. His other Tony nominations show the wide range of his talent, from a 1959 nod for the Elia Kazan-directed production of Archibald Macleish's Pulitzer Prize-winning "J.B." to recognition in 1994 for Harold Pinter's "No Man's Land," with a 1982 Best Actor (Play) nomination for his Iago in William Shakespeare's "Othello." This man can act, and seeing him perform onstage is one of an acting aficionado's great pleasures.
He continues to be a very in-demand character actor in prestigious motion pictures. If he were truly English rather than Canadian-American, he'd have been knighted long ago (in 1968 he was a made a Companion of the Order of Canada, the country's highest civilian honor and one which requires the approval of the sovereign). In 1970, Plummer - a self-confessed 43-year-old "bottle baby" - married his third wife, dancer Elaine Regina Taylor, who helped wean him off his dependency on alcohol. They currently live on a 30-acre estate in Weston, Connecticut, and although he spends the majority of his time in the United States, he remains a Canadian citizen.
After training at London's Central School, I made my professional debut in a 1962 production of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM at the Royal Court Theatre. Following a tour of BILLY LIAR and rep in Dundee, I made my West End debut at the Haymarket, in N.C. Hunter's THE TULIP TREE with Celia Johnson and John Clements. Then came an invitation to join The National Theatre for its inaugural season at the Old Vic, and with it the opportunity to work with such directors as Gaskill, Dexter, Olivier, Zeffirelli and Coward in roles such as Rose in THE RECRUITING OFFICER, Barblin in ANDORRA, Jackie in HAY FEVER, Kattrin in MOTHER COURAGE, Miss Prue in LOVE FOR LOVE, and Margaret in MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING which kept me busy for the next three years.