CBC Digital Archives CBC butterfly logo

CBC Archives has a new look: Please go to cbc.ca/archives to access the new site.

The page you are looking at will not be updated.

Christopher Plummer, star of stage and screen

The Story

"An actor should be a mystery," says Christopher Plummer. But these days actors must do publicity, he laments -- so the popular film and stage actor has agreed to answer numerous questions in a surprisingly candid, honest manner in this 1967 CBC-TV interview. He opens up about his reluctance to star in The Sound of Music, gives his opinion on why actors tend to drink heavily, criticizes Hollywood's "star system," and explains why he chose acting over a music career.  

Medium: Television
Program: TBA
Broadcast Date: July 31, 1967
Guest(s): Christopher Plummer
Host: Warren Davis
Duration: 32:04

Did You know?

• Christopher Plummer was born in Toronto on Dec. 13, 1929.
• His maternal great-grandfather was Canadian Prime Minister John Abbott.
• Plummer began his acting career in the theatre, making his professional stage debut with Ottawa's Stage Society while still a teenager in 1948. He first worked on Broadway in 1954, and made his debut at Ontario's Stratford Festival in 1956.
• He has won two Tony Awards for his theatre work: for best leading actor in a musical for the title role in Cyrano (1974) and for best performance by a leading actor in a play for his lead role in Barrymore (1997).
 • His first film role was in 1958's Stage Struck. Since then, he's appeared in well over 100 feature films, but he's best known for his role as Captain Von Trapp in 1965's The Sound of Music. Ironically, he's made no secret of the fact that he was never all that thrilled to be part of the film. He reportedly referred to it as "The Sound of Mucus" on several occasions.
• Other notable films Plummer has appeared in include The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964), The Man Who Would be King (1975), Somewhere in Time (1980), Malcolm X (1992), Twelve Monkeys (1995), The Insider (1999) and Syriana (2005). He received his first Academy Award nomination in 2010 for his critically acclaimed performance as Leo Tolstoy in the film The Last Station.
 • Despite his film success, Plummer says he's more passionate about working on stage. In a 2010 Globe and Mail article, he said, "The theatre has given me the most joy professionally, because of the live audience. I think it's desperately important to form a communion with your audience. That's your partner. Though I admire and take pleasure in movies, they can't replace the stage."
• Plummer has been married three times. His first marriage was to actress Tammy Grimes (1956 to 1960). The couple had one child, Amanda Plummer, who grew up to be a successful actress. His second marriage was to journalist Patricia Lewis (1962 to 1967). He married British dancer and actress Elaine Taylor in 1970. As of 2010, the couple is still happily married. In a 2010 London Telegraph article, he credits Elaine with making him stop his excessive drinking: "Elaine did say: if you don't quit this stupid over-drinking I'm outta here. And thank God. She did in a sense save my life."


Other Theatre more